Kiss This Absurd and Brutal World
On the evening of November 30, 2022. Confused, panicked, anxious, irritable, frustrated, melancholy, feeling everything but hope in political suppression. The mental state during the pandemic has been swirling around in the past few years; the revolving roulette of life points to nowhere but a hopeless abyss. Finally, I find internal peace in solitude with philosophy, Taoism, and Buddhism, adding a little bit of self-deception…
Stepping on the road of art is an accidental but inevitable journey for me, just like the existence of each of us in this world. Maybe you will come, maybe not, before coming is a superposition, we who come to this world, people who see my words, you collapse here in this moment, and are certain, of course, people who don’t know me and I don’t know, in fact, for our understanding, it is a superposition, when we know that moment, we can be sure, you, I… Maybe my metaphor is inappropriate, but it’s the closest I can think of. On the same day twenty-two years ago, under normal circumstances, I should have been a senior in a private high school in Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan province, preparing for Gao Kao, the college entrance examination test. However, due to my poor academic performance, I was a senior in a junior high school in a satellite town called Shehong, preparing for the high school entrance examination test once again. Being demoted three grade levels at once, I felt like being exiled to a desolate desert. There was no highway back then, so every trip between Chengdu and Shehong meant a torturesome journey: six or seven hours of bus ride, untasty food from the roadside restaurants, and restless night on an odorous intercity coach. During the unbearable suffering, I started to ponder about the purpose of my life for the first time. I used to be carefree and had no concept about thinking. Maybe at the time, the affluent family financial situation made me see no necessity to work for my own future, settled to be a happy “bug” in my own dwelling. Repeating the senior year in junior high was a wake-up call; I realized that four more years of study was the opportunity for me to reroute my life in the right direction. I convinced myself that I was not stupid, and there was no problem with my intellectual capability. I vowed to work my butt off and cherish this opportunity given by my parents. I promised them that I would at least go to Fudan or Nankai University if I could not make it to topnotch Tsinghua or Peking University. It felt like I was a gambler who had lost everything, but a magic power recharged my account and reset everything to its original setting, so I got the opportunity to win again. My hope turned out to be a delusion, and I, turned out to be a complete loser.
Those four years, alas… was utterly embarrassing. Besides being punished for misbehavior, I was expelled once. I concluded that I was a maggot; even if I transformed one day, I could only become a big-headed fly, and my destination would be a dune hill. My poor grades forced me to find another way to self-salvation, so I embarked on the road of art with least amount of expectation. Surprisingly, I gradually fell in love with art, and engraved such a passion into my blood and bone marrow. I felt special the first time–although I did not know what art truly embodied at the moment, I was thrilled that I could grow long hair without others’ judgmental sneer, I could swing by female classmates with a pretentious look, and most importantly, I could show off the talent and skill that others did not have. For someone who had always suffered from the humiliation of poor grades and self-deprecation, I developed an unprecedented confidence that ordinary people like me could succeed too. I worked hard for the first time in my life. Later, when I graduated from college and became one of the masses in the crowd, all of a sudden, I started to question myself, “Who am I? Where am I from? Where am I going?” In a split second, I realized that I was no longer a tiny bug shielded under a human skin. I have never realized about the absurdity of my past life until now. What was next? To start working for a salary? To start living with an anticipated career like my peers and the adults around me? To prove to myself, to my parents, and to my friends that I was finally ready to follow the same lifestyle like everybody else? What was the meaning of life? We came into the world not by chance, or even just accident, indoctrinated with consciousness that we may not like. The ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus once said: “We are born on a stage,Not of our choosing,And the play we perform,Has been written for us.” I wanted to make sense of my life and make choice for myself. I carefully had a conversation with my parents. I explained to them that in the next ten years, I was determined to pursue a path of becoming a professional artist. This was fated to be a bumpy road with lots of unpredictability, but I wanted to follow my heart and give it a try. I asked for their temporary financial support because I was incapable of climbing over the “high wall” in front of me on my own. I never meant to be a parasite exploiting my parents incessantly, but I desperately needed someone to put a ladder on the wall and give me an added impetus to climb up. I was grateful my parents gave me unconditional understanding and support at that time. However, when I just hung my arms on the wall, striving to make the next move, the ladder was pulled away, and I was left there exhausted and helpless. My parents encountered a financial pitfall and lost a significant amount of money in business. Suddenly, not only couldn’t they offer me any financial support for my career, but the family financial situation also fell into a dead end. I was forced to think about my life again and quickly realized that there was no joke—I needed to fight for my dream this time completely on my own.
When a person’s material world is scarce, the spiritual world tends to be enriched, and he or she will finally understand the essence of the reality. Reset to ground zero seems to be the inevitable reality of my destiny, prompting me to unlock new skills one by one, as described below in this poem:
Flipping the address book, back and forth,
Countless avatars floating in front of me.
I am pondering,
What kind of person do I look like to the people behind these avatars?
Am I a trustworthy person in the eyes of others?
Am I a person who can still be remembered for his appearance?
Can I also remember the people behind these avatars?
I’m thinking hard about what they think of me.
I’m looking at me in front of my avatar fiercely,
Life is full of paradox. It seems as if the financial constraints in life have become a key to a heaven of inspiration, unlocking my soul through continuous creation of artwork. Facing the canvas, I can touch my heart and forget a lot of unpleasantness; looking back at the past self, I can laugh off any absurdity and unrealistic fantasy. Afterall, the generation of the 1980s has not experienced the previous turmoil and unrest. We grow up with a more open culture, watching Japanese comic shows, playing video games, and eating individually packaged snacks. We are the thriving flowers in the green house.Most people’s faces are full of yearning for hope, never worrying about the fragility of the happiness. Older folks call us the Beat Generation, claiming that we lick honey in the jar and know nothing about suffering, unlike our predecessors who have never bathed in the spring breeze, but deprived of material satisfaction and advanced technology. They call us the happiest generation. Yet, we are the generation who wave good-bye to guaranteed stability of planned economy and stumble with the drastic change to market economy. We must pay mortgage, car loan, and all kinds of other loans, and finally, the generation of 1980s has become the most reminiscent and responsible generation. We have experienced the last innocence of that era but are also caught up with the superfluous materialism of this era. And right now, we are agonizing over the human disaster resulted from a natural disaster. It is the tumor that has been hidden for a long time, eroding our willingness to think for ourselves and making people feel powerless to fight back. I am asking myself repeatedly: is it worth it to be an obedient dog and do what I am told to do, or be a hero to act with independent thinking? I can only pick up a pen and record what I think on the canvas and face this absurd and brutal world with a gentle kiss.
Writing so much, I slowly lit a cigarette, ready to watch the World Cup with Chinese soccer team excluded. Argentina vs Poland. I put some bet on the game, not caring to win or lose. But this is not good—it costs money to bet on a short-term gambling on a game, but it costs life on a long-term gambling on one’s destiny. We never know who the final winner is.
I still remember the excitement I felt when participating in an exhibition for the first time more than ten years ago.Standing outside of Sichuan Art Gallery, seeing the oil painting I made used for the background of the exhibit poster, my heart was fully filled. Unfortunately, the feeling faded away as time passed by, until the birth of my daughter.
I had never planned to settle down – getting married and having children seemed a huge responsibility and a frightening commitment to me. Parenthood was never a question that requires answers for my parents’ generation. It is constructed as an inevitable and passive decision among married adults and it is deeply embedded into sociocultural structures. In the past, people rarely thought about the potential risks and problems of raising a child in a not ‘child-friendly’ society. When the welfare and education system cannot support a family successfully, what can I do as a father?
I became an educator.
By nourishing a child’s soul, providing a credible guide for a child’s advancement, imparting knowledge, good values and traditions within my students, my hope is that my students can continue building up a better world when they grow up – a world of genuineness, kindness and hope, and a world my beloved daughter lives in.
Born in Chengdu in May 1983, Lin Peng spent his first three years in Xinjiang due to his mother’s response to the government’s call for educated youth to go to the countryside and his father’s service in the military. He returned to Chengdu with his family after his father left the military. Since then, the imprint of Chengdu has been deeply engraved on him.
From primary school in 1989 to senior high school in 2000, like most people born in the 1980s in China, Lin followed a normal path. An unexpected encounter and baptism allowed him to participate in the art college entrance examination in 2004 and subsequently spend four years at the Chengdu Academy of Fine Arts until his graduation in 2008.
If it weren’t for his mentor Tang Tao, perhaps Lin would have given up on the path of art a long time ago. In 2009, he participated in his first exhibition at the Sichuan Provincial Art Museum, which was very exciting. Later, he participated in various exhibitions throughout the country and the excitement faded. As an artist, one needs to survive first. In a fit of passion, Lin invested in a hot pot restaurant in 2014, hoping to have a stable source of income and not have to cater to others’ tastes in his art. However, the investment was a complete failure, and Lin realized how naive he had been.
In 2016, to make a living, I started a small art training institution with my friends, the Silly Art Life Hall. We were very responsible and did not teach children simple strokes. I often tell parents that this is not a place to learn how to draw. Why is it called Silly Art? Because each of us is born into this world with confusion and cluelessness, but we absolutely cannot die in confusion and cluelessness. Therefore, drawing is just a language, and the most important thing is to use this language to express oneself. Our emotions need to be expressed, our thoughts need to be expressed, we are human…
In 2018, the most important person in my life arrived, my daughter.
Painting, the Silly Art Life Hall, raising my daughter. Everything seemed to be moving in a good direction, but not long after, I went through a strange and tumultuous three years, constantly closing and closing, and still closing. Finally, like a plucked chicken that has been severely injured, I continue to strive towards the sun and crow, and we still persist to this day.
I have participated in fewer exhibitions in the past two years, but I have always been painting because painting itself is a part of life, with great significance, and also without meaning.
This short video can be considered as a monologue on life, and I wanted to use this music by Mr. Ryuichi Sakamoto, which was actually decided with Brother Jiacheng in mid-March. It’s just that I didn’t expect…remembrance, because “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence” was created in 1983 and appeared in this world with the movie in May, which happens to be the same month that I came to this world that year… Actually, whether we work in an art-related field or not, we all strive to live, and many things are not as glamorous as they seem on the surface. As someone who has reached middle age, I believe that this is just choosing a way of living for oneself and having faith in it.