He and I were so comfortable in one another’s company. Sitting with him was like an afternoon spring rain; a quiet intensity.
I did not know it at the time, but for the rest of my life, alone while painting, I would return to that cognitive oasis I first experienced with him.
I have lately come to believe that what I felt in Kawabata’s company was “the effect of his beautiful character filled with benevolence,” as articulated by John Young. (From the introduction to Kawabata’s ”The Existence and Discovery of Beauty.” )
How fortunate for me, directly after my enriching experience in Asia, with the Cultural Living Treasures in Japan and Chinese intellectuals and artists - that I had Senator Jacob Javits as a friend and mentor. I joked with him how great it was for my budding intellect to move from the finest minds in the East to the best in the West.
He was a man of exceptional intellect, character, conscience and compassion. He was also very thoughtful and nurturing, full of life and the very best company a young widow could have.
In the late 80’s I made my first visit since advanced stages of Lou Gehrig’s had confined him to a wheel chair. He entered the room in the chair, a handsome silk ascot at his neck and one of his best ever beaming smiles. His first words were ‘The great thing about this disease is that it does not affect my mind.”
Will Barnet throughout his long, sturdy career, has been as dedicated as a mentor as he is an artist. Since my first critiques with him as my teacher at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, he has been there for me. Thank you, Will.
Lui shou-kwan, besides providing the pleasure of the company of a kind, brave, talented man, influenced my own art by coming to share his belief in the importance of sincerity as critical factor in creation of all art.
Clichéd but true, art requires knowing your discipline, methods, so well you can forget technique while in process of creating. This ensures a sincere reflection of another human being, “ the tip of brush catches and conveys every nuance of thought and feeling of the artist during process of creating and cannot help but reveal the man.”
Lui received an M.B. E. from Queen Elizabeth the II for his contribution to insuring unbroken continuation of the longest tradition of art in world civilization, Chinese Ink Painting. In his signature Zen Paintings, many scholars cite him as first contemporary Chinese artist to bring this painting tradition into pure abstraction when the Mainland strictly adhered to Socialist view of art.
The cult of “sincerity” lead I believe to artistic range both in subject matter and technique that critics and collectors find a distinguishing feature of my work. This impressed me in Lui’s work - one day painting his highly philosophical, historically important Zen paintings and without skipping beat next day a dozen on life of a silly chicken in the backyard because his granddaughter visiting that day.