Friendship is not limited to people sharing collective memories or emotions. It transcends space and time. This painting reinterprets a drawing in Feng Zikai’s (1898–1975) New Interpretation of Old Verses. Xue Song shows his appreciation towards Feng by following the original piece closely, and employs new media to supplement his own understanding of friendship. He uses a collage of traditional masterpieces in the background to embody the transcendence of friendship, regardless of space and time. Instead of ink, Xue uses ashes to outline the landscape and figures to symbolize rebirth. He successfully creates a dialogue and constructs a friendship with Feng and other artists.
The couplet on the upper right corner expresses the gratification of having like-minded people regardless of the distance from them. Li Bai’s poem presents the insignificance of the external world when one is surrounded by friends. In contrast with the insurmountable physical distance between friends in Xue’s painting, Li visualizes both the physical and psychological closeness between friends. Xue and Li achieve a consensus on the meaning of friendship: “We finished our songs as the stars went down” because together we forget time; “The four seas hold our friendship” wherever we are, because together “we forget the world.”
Poem selection and label by Gloria Cheng ’18