150 x 110 cm
Today’s China is like an open valley to the influences of Western art where different voices from different sides contradict each other, which easily excites enthusiastic people but makes quiet individuals like this artist feel awkward. In a time filled with constant updates and developments, any introspective choice inevitably seems conservative. What motivates Du Saijin, apart from personal feelings, is strengthening a connection with the earth.
Since meeting him in 1998, I have known Du Saijin to paint portraits of the poor, a population often socially disengaged from general society. His subjects use meager incomes to buy liquor and meat in the dimming light of sunset, much like Semyon Zakharovich Marmeladov in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s CRIME AND PUNISHMENT. Though challenging to examine on a sociological and economic level, this population reveals to the artist the simple greatness and solidarity of the human spirit through the absurdity of predestination displayed by their real lives. This is what attracts the painter, inspiring humility toward his craft and a commitment to remain honest to the canvas. Du Saijin paints vagrants, scavengers and laborers as individuals instead of using them to represent emotional concepts or as boxes to hold ideas. His paintings show that without baring clothes, the artist can extract the essence of people standing firmly on the earth.
Sophie Pan holds a doctorate in Art History from Nanjing Normal University and is now a professor at Nanjing Art College.
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