acrylic on canvas
25 x 25 cm
Contemplation, concentration and continuity are the cornerstone of Du Jie’s unusual painting practice. Each work is titled simply with a colour and a pair of dates. The colour relates to the background surface of acrylic paint applied to the canvas, the dates represent the span of time from when she begins drawing a fine line onto the surface as a continuous loop, and the day that the intricately curling line finally join up with its starting point once more. Each work can take between three and four weeks to complete. Her deliberately chosen small, square format requires viewers to look very closely: when seen from a distance they appear to be a single, monochrome canvas. As one moves in for a closer examination the tiny, fine line comes into focus, recalling the rippling water exquisitely painted by Song Dynasty master Ma Yuan in his ‘Study of the Properties of Water’. Indeed, Du Jie says the reference to water is carefully considered, and one of the reasons she changed from the medium of oil paint to water-based acrylic: ‘Water is ever-changing and can take an infinite number of varied forms. It is both ordinary and mysterious, both kind and gentle.’ Her approach to painting requires a certain stillness, and the same degree of precision of ‘bai miao’ ink painters. Du Jie’s paintings were produced in a quiet and meditative state: the apparently empty space of the canvas is an illusion, and its blank surface is activated by her line. It is suggestive of the push and pull between yin and yang, stillness and movement, emptiness and fullness, freedom and constraint in the Dao.