I went to London to see Qu Leilei and his partner Caroline Deane’s exhibition Calligraphy Forest of Misinformation. It was a moving experience. It was originally shown in Milan and is inspired by a phenomenon of our time
The most blatant example of Truth being called False is Donald Trump’s constant calling facts ‘False News’. This lying is not new (See quote from the Red Mansion) but its impact is felt more because of social media. Leilei and Caroline use calligraphy in ancient styles and highlight distortions of the truth.
This example where I am standing with Leilei is the calligraphy for TRUTH except it is turned upside down.
Caroline and Leilei invited us to write our thoughts. I wrote SAT NAM the Sanskrit word at the heart of Sikhism. It means TRUTH – above all Truth. I quoted Keats ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty, – that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. Conversely, denying the truth is ugly because it involves distortion and destruction.
I met Qu Leilei when I reviewed his exhibition at the Ashmolean. Everyone’s Life is an Epic was to have a life changing effect on me. It led to 5 years of work, interviewing Qu Leilei and other Stars artists, researching visiting China and then writing Brushstrokes in Time. A desire to tell the untold story of the courageous Stars artist led me to become a novelist. I wanted readers to know what it felt like- as well as the facts- a way of living the truth. Here is a short feature by me about the Stars artists and their brief Beijing Spring . It has a trailer to the film and includes Ai Weiwei and Leilei’s voice in English.
Leilei talking about art
In my memoir Food of Love , I have used this picture of Caroline and I in Beijing with Leilei’s mother when I was researching for Brushstrokes in Time.
If you want to know more of Leilei’s inspirational story I describe it as 9 lives in this profile feature. Qu Leilei Castaway