Mountain is a symbol of sublime in various cultures. In Eastern culture, the mountain is closely associated cultural beliefs and becomes the symbol of: the mysteries of the universe, the domain of gods, and the site of spiritual practice. In Western culture, the mountain is the symbol of: nationalism, territory, religious spiritualism, God’s power, conflict of man (man vs. nature) or human psyche. The mountain is held with such importance, thus it is often personified by often naming after gods or saints to illustrate its status and divine qualities that are respected and feared by the man.
During my travels, I like to watch mountain during the night time, as I am fascinate by its colossal scale and mystery. The scale of the mountain also makes its surroundings insignificant in comparison, as if the mountain is expressing its personal ego, isolation and pride. This makes me to rethink the concept of “sublime”. The term, sublime, often refers to infinite power or state that cannot be measured or compared by the power of man. In this case, if sublime is a state that no man can reach, thus sublime is merely an ideal that is self-serving for sublime itself. Hence, if mountain is a symbol of sublime, than it alienates itself from the state of man, thus making the mountain a loner. In this case, the mountain as representation of sublime, what was ought to be magnificent and divine becomes meaningless, shallow and inadequate, while left its bare state shown as depiction of itself.
The title of the show “the mountains” makes reference to Zen philosophy of: mountains are mountains; mountains are no longer mountains; mountains are once again mountain. These passages express man’s perceptions of mountain, however what was the man really perceive is his own state of mind and level of his understanding. In this series of works I take inspirations from my feeling toward mountain and it sublime quality. However this series of works are neither the representation of Eastern and Western thinking of mountain nor are they aim to depict any philosophical depth. Rather, the works are merely about the feeling and discourse between the mountain and I.
It is ironic that the mountain as a sublime created separation from man, but at the same time my empathy perceives mountain as a loner creates bond between mountain and I. In my creation, I tried to portrait mountain in metaphysical sense by transforming the immeasurable scale and distant site of the mountain into the subject in front of me. This allows me to treat mountain as a portraiture model. As result, the mountain is personified that enable me to establish connection, discourse and familiarity, thus allowing me to illustrate its traits and personality. Ironically, my paintings of mountains are not depiction of “the other”; rather it is another form of self-portrait. The mountain as a spiritual symbol is established though ones’ connection with it. Hence, the logic of sublime no longer expresses the differences between the mountain and I; rather the sublime can be the unity that links one to other emotionally to be alike to one another. Thus, the mountain I see is the reflection of myself, as it can be both the distant site of the outside world I face as well as the loner who lives in my inside world.