H26 × W22 × D46
1990 (420 days)
All things at the beginning are matter arising from non-being, which is an empty frame of mind. However, if it weren’t from being, from having substance that a comparison was to be drawn, even the most incredible artist would be unable to depict just how empty “empty” is. And where should the reflection we want to elicit by depicting “empty” be heading contemplatively? This very abstract work expresses boring a passage through. What was originally a thick and substantial, solid and heavy boxwood tree trunk with dense with annular rings is completely carved out until its hollow. What is more unbelievable is that the remaining extremely thin and very translucent layer of skin, which connotes “the impossible possible” and “the non-existent existence.” Cut by cut, chisel stroke by chisel stroke, the leaving behind is the creator’s Buddhist practice, in his mind is a state of clear, bright enlightened and empty. His hands readily pare away the unnecessary and preserve the essence while his brain rationally calculates how thin must he work it until it is transparent, until it can express the entire inherent emptiness. This is not the emptiness of a hole devoid of things, it is what Mencius admonishes: “When a great responsibility is to be bestowed by Heaven upon a certain person, he must first hone his determination through adversity, work himself to the bone, go hungry until he becomes a bag of flesh and bones, empty his body, and rid himself of chaotic thoughts, so that he can stimulate his mind, restrain his nature, and increase his capabilities.” That emptiness is the empty oneself of the absorption with ego so as to have the empty mind to learn how to “empty one’s body.” That emptiness is the Zen meditation and enlightenment to “stimulate the mind and restrain one’s nature, increasing one’s capabilities.” Thus, this work has tremendous imagination. One can hollow a tree core until it’s empty, hollow out a brain until it’s empty, and hollow out a heart until it’s empty… This fascinating and imaginatively stimulating work, despite being utterly simple and unadorned, is unforgettable and even elicits an electric connection between creator and observer in which ideas flow back and forth, an artistically excited resonance!
The creator once engaged in Zen meditation for 20 minutes, after which he gain enlightenment about matter arising from nothingness, clarity and a sense of ease, and comfort and joy.
He immediately thought to share with the greater unenlightened public this feeling that the inside is empty, soft, void, unhindered and unburdened. This work is similar in message to his work, “Man or Butterfly?” but is more transparent, thinner and involves a greater degree of difficulty. “Man or Butterfly?” is the weight of two pages of newsprint, which is only 42 grams, but this work, “Empty” used 35 kilos of original wood, which was whittled down to the weight of a single sheet of newsprint. The creator not only spent a year and a half immersing himself in the process of Buddhist cultivation of the mind and body while creating the work and even more, had to maintain a very thin and soft “Empty” body that is still undamaged. The philosophy amidst this is so profound that it is most worthy of deep reflection!
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