Cai Jin's art works is in fact the reflection of herself.I know Cai Jin well and never hear her boasting. Her concise statements and notes mostly tell us her feelings to the withered banana tree, the window lattice of the old house in hometown, the water traces and the bloody red. Such feelings are so weird that they can hardly be captured.
Life itself is weird, for we could not grasp the substance of life from the surface appearances. In other words, the so-called substance is always changing, such as life and death. Cai Jin sees the flow of vital blood from the withered banana. Life is transient and it puts the vital on the surface. Death is inevitable and it hides the eternal into the deep darkness. Water leaves traces after raining. The supreme handling of calligraphy was named Water Traces on the Wall by ancient people.
The artworks of Cai Jin are just like the Water Traces on the Wall. She tries to capture the weirdness, and shows no interest in the colorful attractive reality. She devotes herself to the loneliness subject that makes her excited but calls no attention of others. In the artworks of Cai Jin, decomposition is a carrier of life and bloodiness represents beauty. Success and failure, death and life, large and small are always transformed to and depended on each other.
In my opinion, Cai Jin uses the brush to “Ge Wu” and creates the body, fruit, violin, and banana tree in her artworks. Ge Wu means the equally treating of every things and communicating with them. The “Qi Wu” of Chuang Tse and “Ge Wu” of people in Song Dynasty have the same meaning, that is, if we want to know the things we must treat them equally and incorporate us with them. In modern society, art becomes the symbol of anthropocentrism and human practical theory. To most people, things are only carriers, and they passively express the spirit of human. In other words, things are symbols. Symbolization actually despises things and praises human. But Cai Jin doesn’t think in that way. She pours her feelings of intimate bond with water, tree, house, and flower into her artworks. She is immersed in a state of finishing a school work under the control of nerves.
The significance of Cai Jin’s artworks is in their recognizing the macro through a micro. There is nothing under the canopy of heaven greater than the tip of a bird’s down in autumn, while the Tai Mountain is small. The insignificant subject precisely reflects the profound human nature and the extension of any life. In fact, “Qi Wu” and “Ge Wu” are the ways of artists’ self-cultivating. Cai Jin doesn’t think what she created is not something great. She thinks she creates art just like embroidering or knitting a sweater. There are some reasons that some people regard it as the specific character of Chinese female artists, but I prefer to regard it as ordinary human nature, like what it is in Maximalism, one of the major trends of 1990s' Chinese contemporary art. The process of Cai Jin’s creation starts from the micro, and extends naturally from a detail. She does not design the layout and structure in advance and then fulfills the detail part. The philosophy of recognizing the macro through a micro is just the philosophy of ordinary, which is also called Everything Going with No Obstacle in Buddhism. The philosophy of everything going with no obstacle in language makes the artworks have a meaning beyond the canvas.
However, Cai Jin’s unintended practice in art for more than twenty years provides us rich semantic associations. The horrific red recalls us to the crazy Red Revolutionary Times, the Cultural Revolution. Tangled colors and shapes make us associate psychological self-sadism or sexual struggle. Bloody red flooding on the canvas and the bar-like bulk with the bottom color of rose let us think of the moldy things, which might be a metaphor for the problems in current society and human nature. There are numerous such things in her artworks. All of these explain that the simplicity in her art language can produce infinite meanings. I read various artistic reviews on Cai Jin’s artworks written in the past twenty years. Although each critic has different perspectives and styles, some summarize the artistic course and some make delicate analysis on creation psychology, each review was seriously written, very wonderful and convincing. But Cai Jin herself has little word about her. The words difference between the producer and receiver illustrates the fascination of Cai Jin’s artistic language.
Cai Jin is one of the most outstanding female artists in China. The artistic charm and the inspiration she brings to us transcend the classification of Chinese female art or female arts. More importantly, in the past years, Cai Jin inadvertently integrates herself with art, teaching and life. Cai Jin is an independent and selfless artist with sincerity and low profile. Her enthusiasm in teaching is praised in Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts and Chinese artistic society. Cai Jin is just herself, a sincere artist. It is just the respect of the honesty of herself that makes her artworks sincere and lets her grasp the real spirit of contemporary art.