Every river has its banks,Constant expansion is not possible. Everything reaches its limits, and the wise always try to identify these limits. In the environment, they do not willfully expand civilization at the expense of natural wilderness. In economics, they do not spend beyond the market. In personal relationships, they do not demand more than others can fairly give. In exercise, they do not strain beyond their capacities. In health, they do not go beyond the limits of their age. With such attitudes, the wise can even exploit what others think to be barriers.
Every ocean has its shores.
When one senses that one has come to the limits of the time and situation, one should conserve one’s energy. Often, this will be in preparation for a challenge to the limits, or a changing over to a new set of constraints. Whenever one comes upon the circumference, it is best to consider carefully and marshal one’s resources before crossing the line. There is always uncertainty, and we must be wary.
We can also utilize limits for our own purposes. We can trap someone because we know of the limits ahead. Defense is possible by utilizing given limits, as a wall protects our backs in a fight. Work is easier when we know that we will be working for a limited time. We can take advantage of opportunities because we know that they are only there for the moment. Limitations should not always be seen as negative constraints. They are the geography of our situation, and it is only right to take advantage of this.
Oil on canvas
24" x 20"
Source: The Hefner Collection
Ai Xuan was born in 1947 in Hebei province, Ai Xuan credits his father, Ai Qing, one of China's most famous poets, for his early interest in art. Xuan graduated from the Central Academy of fine Arts Preparatory School in 1967. His further education was interrupted by the Cultural Revolution and between 1969 and 1973, he was sent to hard labor on a military farm in Tibet. He has however, stated that this experience provided him with subject matter for most of his best paintings. He won the Silver medal at the Second National Exhibition of Young Artists in China in 1981 and since then has gone on to become one of the most recognized painters of the post-Cultural Revolution period. His work regularly sets record prices at auctions in Beijing and Hong Kong. A member of the Chinese Artists' Association, he is also a full professor at the Beijing Painting Institute.
Xuan believes his style formed naturally over the years and represents a combination of many influences; American, Russian, European and Chinese. He admires Andrew Wyeth and they met once and talked about their art. Xuan felt they shared common emotions about loneliness and isolation and agreed there were similarities in their use of light. In his work, Xuan attempts to express contradictory feelings about life and nature. He depicts people who have no control over their lives or where they live. They feel lonely and isolated. There was a time when Xuan could identify with them and he has never forgotten it.
© The Hefner Collection
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