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exhibition: The Beginner’s Mind – works by AFA founders (AFA’s 10th Anniversary Special)

participating work:  Faith in Fake ix — The shadow said: “…”


Opening: 2017.8.25 18:30
Artists: Bianca Lei,James Chu Cheok Son,Konstantin Bessmertny,Noah Ng Fong Chao,Tong Chong
Curator: Alice Kok

For the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the AFA, we have invited the founders of the AFA to participate in this group exhibition titled “The Beginner’s Mind”. The term in Chinese “初心” comes from a Buddhist classic text of the Avatamsaka Sutra: “The very beginning mind itself is the most accomplished mind of true enlightenment” or “The very moment of raising beginner’s mind is the accomplishment of true awakening itself”

It suggests that the beginner’s mind is void of any pretentious assumptions of an “expert” thus is the most accomplished and pure in terms of attaining enlightenment. The term is also commonly used in the phrase “不忘初心;方得始終”, which means that we should not forget our initial aspiration so that to achieve the final goal.

Here the meaning is twofold. Firstly as the founders of the AFA, the artists are invited to reflect upon the initial intention they had ten years ago when they grouped together to create the association of Art For All. Ten years have gone by, the AFA has been founded with 6 artists members and is now expanded to more than 40 members. It has become one of the most representative and active artists association on the contemporary art scene of Macao. Thinking back, the founder of AFA James Chu said that there have been gains as well as loses during these years but it has been most rewarding for him to see the changes that took place on Macao’s art scene with more and more emergence of promising young artists whose works are being shown through the platform of AFA. This has reminded me ten years ago when I just came back to Macao from abroad. During that time I have started writing about art and exhibitions in Macao for a magazine. For the establishment of AFA, I have come to visit the gallery and the studios of the 6 artists for interviews and photos. I still remember the excitement I felt when I saw their artworks, feeling the many possibilities of Macao’s art scene.

Now that these possibilities have become reality, life is anything but reversible. But James Chu has decided to give it another shot by repainting on his old painting works. What is gone is gone but his forthrightness has never left him. And then taking a look at Tong Chong’s latest paintings, one realises that the best ideas often come from the simplest ideas. The beginner’s mind is the learner’s mind, purest and most difficult to maintain. His paintings are simple but powerful because they come from the heart of a child. Bianca Lei is one of the pioneers in video art in Macao and she has never ceased to explore the nature of moving images. The current exhibition presents her 9th artwork of the on going series of “Faith on Fake” which is based upon her reflection on the unusual phenomenon of city development . Shadow is the other side of light. Darkness is part of our life. The Beginner’s Mind is the best mind but it is the most difficult mind because after years of experience and “expertise”, how can we keep our intentions pure and empty somehow? Sometimes aspiration comes from difficult moments of life. Ng Fong Chao’s latest work consists videos of his father on his dying bed speaking the last words. In front of death the artist has chosen rebirth. The end of life is the beginning of a new phase. As for Konstantin, it is his signature dark humour. “The Future Behind” depicts what could have been Macao’s future of the past. Behind the apparent contradictory and suspicious atmosphere, it is the uncompromising attitude to point out the ridiculous the way it truly is.

So ten years have gone by, I look at the picture that I have taken for them, remembering the moments we have lived together in the association of Art For All. All is but memories now. The places we have been, the people we have met and the friends we have cherished have undergone inevitable changes. But through the artworks we are still able to feel the passion and love that has never left.

What makes the artists to go on through thick and thin, no matter what? To go on pick up again and again their paint brushes, camera or whatever tool they use to tell the truth of their thoughts and feelings?

Upon this Steve Jobs has a famous saying, “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”.

So the eager mind and the open mind, is The Beginner’s Mind.



related links: AFA wedsite;