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Effortlessness and spontaneity in art and culture.

Nova by Li Poon

My uncle Li is an artist. You can see a selection of his work here. While his style is very modern and abstract, he actually paints according to Chinese tradition, he says of  his work:

I love to paint forms that are seemingly spontaneous and protean, rich and luminous, freely floating and unfettered by gravity, all  unified and rendered coherent through this powerful Life Rhythm.

When I asked him about it many years ago, he said he wanted to paint like a child, to create art that felt spontaneous, innocent and effortless. That’s why when my youngest daughter sent him some paintings she had done as a four year old…


Unnamed by Jade

He wrote to my mum:

Really when I look at them I ask myself what’s the point of my paintings.

I spoke to him about it afterwards and he said that he longed for the innocence and naivety that comes so naturally to Jade and other children. In his opinion, it’s the hardest thing to recapture as an adult.  You can’t get there through skill and technique alone – you also have to have a free spirit.

I think this is something others have spoken about in art, but I have been struck by its applicability to culture – and in particular digital culture. I think the ideas, memes, executions, that many of us find the most appealing today are equally spontaneous and effortless. They convey a deep sophistication and multi-layered meaning but in form they are fresh, free and naive.

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