BACKA Track Record of Painting  | Qiu Zhijie

He Sen uses his newest series of painting to attest to a sort of enlightenment: since 1992, critics have

always brought his works into the discourse of sociological determinism, from scar-art narrative to

the culture of images, from social change to the phrase used in fashion magazines – “the cruelty of

youth”. Being low key, He Sen has not denied anything, however he has also never forgotten about


What is art? Art is the relationship between traces and illusions, it is a relationship between traces

and emotions. When these traces lean toward illusion, then the form appears in art, when art leans

toward emotions, the form must be locked under the shield of brushstrokes and colors, which form

a “composition”. The one who leaves traces is the body of the creator, the emotions left behind

comprise the creator’s spirit. To create form and environment, to use a Chinese discourse to speak,

is fundamentally to express feelings, that is, the sentiment of the self, as well as the sentiment of the

object, emotion or characteristic. The work of composition is thus the dialectic of form and spirit.

What He Sen, as a figurative artist, has always dealt with is the relationship between the body and

the spirit of the painted subjects; this relationship in different periods can either be close or distant,

intense or bleak. That is the sentiment of objects, the sentiment of the guest body, He Sen himself,

passing his days with the business of painting, maintaining a distance between painting and the

world, using painting to avoid sinking into the world. This is the nature of art, it is also He Sen’s


How should one define these paintings? Are they photo-realist oil paintings with original forms of

ink-wash? The ancient traces become evidence of an ancient mood, and today these traces became

today’s form, composed of He Sen’s own traces, and among He Sen’s traces is his own mood. These

are paintings of overdrawn form, traces of the uncertainty of painting.