The Displacement of Past, Present and Future:The Spirit Realm of Lizi

By Du Xiyun

The Spirit of God made me; The breath of the Almighty made me alive.

 -The Book of Job 33.4

Since 2013, Lizi has kept on using her iconic color black on her works, on which specific images fade away, rough texture is made prominent. On the paintings, abundant ready-made articles made in various materials account for higher and higher proportion.And the paintings are evolving into sculptures and installations.The faces and bodies of the gods of ancient Greek and Rome vaguely loom out of the paintings with such color, textures and materials, somewhat like old spirits being set free in archaeological excavationand haunting in the nightmare of a dreamer.   

Lizi’s favour to the tone of black is close to kind of bigotry. Black conveys the unspeakable chaos and inexplicable mystery. It is the terminal of all colors, and a black hole absorbing all colorful clouds. When laid on the dimension of time, black is the ash of the cooled passion of youth, the crude oil of history buried underground. Lizi mixes all the past and the present into the hue of black, and let the invisible hand of time show its mighty power in fading all the colors of lives into black. The present is fleeting away, and the dead greyish cold past may revive anytime. All the things are created, shifted, affected and operated unpredictably in a complicated way.

Another feature of Lizi’s works is her concerns on the creation of the phenomenon, rather than the depiction of details. It’s all because her expectations are pointing to the unseen and invisible wishes, which are penetrated in the darkness, shadows, dusk, or dense fog. It is intangible and flickering...... The construction of phenomenon is often realized through applying painting oils on the two-dimensional surface, and let them evolve into occasionally formed thick textures. The fluid materials flow over the canvas and frames, freeze and form three-dimensional leakages, grains, wrinkles and grooves, which, when combine with other visual elements, loom prominently in your eyes somewhat like a thunder-struck underground chamber.      

Materials like threads, chiffon, light strips are all added onto the surface and the surrounding of the paintings. The messages of the materials and the textures in various shapes are combined together. The whole or incomplete architecture pieces and broken sculptures from ancient Greek and Rome are painted or collaged on the textures, in dark greyish color, and then covered by chiffon or silk. It is like the past civilization to be buried in layers and layers of time. The once vivid completeness has been eroded by time, becomes black or white debris and is now peeling off and waiting for the moment to be discovered.    

In the seemingly normal evolution, Lizi implants into it the abnormal structure, formless materials, as well as the unexpected symbols and abrupt emotions. All these elements construct the displacement of time and space,and overturn her consciousness. This is not to recall the past in a linear time, but to converge all minds together and mingle them all.

Time is proceeding ahead, and leaving memories behind. “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field, swept away by the wind and vanishes. Its place knows it no more.” (Psalm 103:15, 16) Lizi has always been sensitive to the nothingness caused by time. The helpless sorrow has always been the basic tone of her works. Our flesh and body are to irreversibly decay, but in and beyond the vast deep infinite universe, is the matter the only existence? The consciousness of our mind, the transcendent sense of our body, the core of our belief, do they really exist?  When contemplating on the life and death on the timeline, Lizi can’t help but encounter and overcome the boundary, and experience and explore the topic of “spirit”. From this perspective, in the era with “Disenchantment”as cognitive premise, all Lizi’s works are full of the scent of “Disenchantment”, as is so natural.      

Through the dark vague vision,she indicates a sense of time flowing in the still space. The present becomes the past, the alive gets pale, the passion gets cold, and the splashing water of the fountain freezes and consolidates layer over layer. Among the visible ruins, rubble, debris, fragments, dusts, there are seemingly spirits unseen, haunting, drifting and wandering about...... Lizi selects particular ruins and debris, creating a melancholy aesthetic tragedy, as is her way to conserve, save and recall the long dead. She believes that spirits are permanent, and she is waiting for the moment that they come and are reborn and come into life. 

Speaking of “spirits”, we can easily approach to Lizi’s mind and understand her expressions. She mixes the past, the present and the future all into the same space. All kinds of symbols are stripped off their regular context to be pasted on or inlaid in an “enchantment” complex. On the painting, A Bedouin at the Seaside, you can feel the moist sea breeze blowing to your face, though in reality, they live in deserts, wilderness, hills and agricultural edge regions. The Sweet Heart is full of bitterness and emptiness, as well as out-bursting love and passion...... Like an alchemist, Lizi reorganizes the shapes, colors and words in an abnormal way, inherits the expression of “surrealism”, ----the surrealism in the 20th century is a passionate movement to pursue transcendental spiritual experience. 

However, Lizi’s displacement of all the elements is never abnormal. Instead, they are carefully arranged and well-organized. In the pervasive darkness, human desires and feelings are overwhelming, while she tries hard to seek for the secret order that is beyond and in them. Is there a secret order that is in and beyond the miscellaneous and volatile things?  If there is, how could it be perceived, how could it be verified? How could it be cleared out? In which aspect? ......Lizi is taking her effort in feeling and depicting and seeking for her personal definition to the unfolding unknown.    

In the process of feeling, expressing and defining, her spirit realm is getting extended, her sense of judgement and life energy are getting flowing, which drives her to make personalized analysis to the past and the future. The torch thief Prometheus has been the hero of many of her works. Her 160 Decibels echoes those works. ----the volume of 160 decibels equals to the situation that a grenade exploding by your ear. The image of Prometheus has experienced long and complicated evolution in all kinds of fairy tales throughout the history. Looking at them in the broad modern civilization behind ancient Greek and Roman fairy tales, Prometheus is more like a symbol of will and power. Its relationship with destination is very inspiring.Franz Kafka wrote in his essay Prometheus:  

There are four legends concerning Prometheus: According to the first, he was clamped to a rock in the Caucasus for betraying the secrets of the gods to men, and the  gods sent eagles to feed on his liver, which was perpetually renewed. According to the second, Prometheus, goaded by the pain of the tearing beaks, pressed himself deeper and deeper into the rock until became one with it. According the the third, his treachery was forgotten in the course of thousands of years, forgotten by the gods, the eagles, forgotten by himself. According to the fourth, everyone grew weary of the meaningless affair. The gods grew weary, the eagle grew weary, the wound closed wearily. There remains the inexplicable mass of rock. The legend tries to explain the inexplicable. As it comes out of the substratum of truth, it has in turn to end in the inexplicable.

                                         Dec. 15, 2021, Beijing