In Suzhou I also discovered the beauty of classical Chinese furniture: the robustness of the Han and Tang Dynasties, the simple elegance of the Ming and the extravagance of the Qing dynasty all carried over into their furniture. At the time, I was pacing about at the crossroads between eastern and western art, trapped by my hesitancy to decide on a creative direction. Classical objects gave me a true feeling for the enchantment of Chinese culture.
I began the Ming Furniture series in 1988, and was greatly encouraged when the first work won an award in Taiwan. The second work, Table, won an award at the annual National Fine Art Exhibition. Artist Xu Bing was a judge that year, and he still has a strong impression of that artwork today. Later I heard that there was a bit of disagreement about whether or not to give me the award. The more conservative judges felt that my artwork had no connection to ‘life’, that it was an expression of bourgeois liberalization. After Table II, I began to depict ancient chairs, ceramics and the like. The objects themselves were perfect to begin with, and I wanted to use them to hone my skills in water printmaking language, form, composition and expression. In some of the works, the object was magnified to take up the entire canvas, with simple forms and intricate lines coming together to make a tense composition. I was also subconsciously alluding to an internal cultural force through my fixed gaze at these ancient objects.