How do Artists Express Love and Companionship? / 關於愛情和陪伴,藝術家是怎樣表達的?

Vincent van Gogh, whose life was defined by solitude and suffering / 孤獨與痛苦伴隨一生的梵高
John Lennon and Yoko Ono / John Lennon 和 Yoko Ono
Audrey Hepburn and Hubert de Givenchy / Audrey Hepburn 和 Hubert de Givenchy
From left: Jin Yuelin, Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin with the family of John Fairbank / 金岳霖(左一)、梁思成(左二)、林徽因(右二),以及費正清的家人

Many people say that love is an art form, and we spend much of our lives passionately learning it. Not everyone, however, can be an artist. What kind of love is felt by true artists? Do their hearts burn hotter than ours?



The general impression is that many great masters live lives of solitude. It is as if one must experience solitude and suffering to reach the depths of the soul. Vincent van Gogh is a great example. He was introverted from a young age, and when he did express his feelings, he was rejected and humiliated. He was chased from home by his father, and when he fought with Paul Gauguin, he cut off his own ear. He eventually ended his own life with a bullet. Physical trauma and spiritual solitude destroyed Van Gogh, but they also produced his greatest works of art.



Vincent van Gogh, whose life was defined by solitude and suffering / 孤獨與痛苦伴隨一生的梵高


Loneliness may better inspire creativity, but some fortunate ones encountered kindred spirits on the lonely path of life and work. They and their friends became muses to each other, and their stories became classic tales of love that burned brighter than others and captured the world’s imagination.



In 1966, when the Beatles were at their hottest, John Lennon met Yoko Ono at her solo exhibition in a London Gallery. He was struck by her artistic character, and ignored the opposition of others. They chose to share their lives together. Lennon was inspired by Ono’s book Grapefruit to write the song Imagine. Under Ono’s influence, Lennon went from being a rock star to being a warrior who called for peace through music, a spokesman for utopia. This love continued until John Lennon was murdered in 1980. Yoko Ono carried out his will by continuing to spread a message of love and peace to the world through her avant-garde art and experimental music.

Beatles最巔峰的1966年,John Lennon在倫敦一間畫廊遇到正在舉辦個展的Yoko Ono,隨後被她的藝術氣質打動,不理會當時其他人反對。他們選擇相伴一生。Lennon以Yoko Ono的《葡萄柚》為靈感創作了經典歌曲Imagine。在洋子的影響下,Lennon從搖滾巨星變成用音樂呼喚和平的戰士,成為烏托邦的代言人。直到1980年Lennon遇刺身亡,這份情感仍在延續,Yoko Ono繼續John Lennon的意志,用她最擅長的先鋒藝術和實驗音樂,向全世界傳達愛與和平。​


John Lennon and Yoko Ono / John Lennon 和 Yoko Ono

In the world of fashion, there has been no more touching a pairing than the friendship between Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn met the French fashion designer while choosing her wardrobe for the film Sabrina. He praised her for her eye for fashion, and marveled at how she brought his clothing designs to life. Every one of Hepburn’s films after this encounter bore the mark of Givenchy’s love.

而在時尚領域,最令我動容的莫過於Givenchy和Audrey Hepburn的曠世友誼。Audrey Hepburn在為《龍鳳配》挑選戲服時與法國時裝設計師Givenchy相遇,Givenchy讚賞Audrey Hepburn的審美眼光,更驚嘆自己上一季的時裝也能在Audrey Hepburn身上,煥發新生。從此,Audrey Hepburn的每部電影都有Givenchy刻的愛之印記。​

Sadly, the two could not be together. The story did not end there, however. Givenchy and Hepburn became great friends, their feelings for each other transcending ideas of love and friendship. At Hepburn’s funeral, Givenchy joined her third husband as a pallbearer, showing just how deep their feelings ran for each other. Their friendship is the stuff of legend.

遺憾的是,兩人最終也沒有走到一起。但故事沒有結束,Givenchy與Audrey Hepburn一家成了至交好友,他們的感情超越友情和愛情。在Audrey Hepburn的葬禮上,Givenchy與她的三任丈夫一起為她抬館送行,可見Givenchy和Audrey Hepburn在彼此心目中的地位非同凡響。這段佳話也成永恆的傳奇。​


Audrey Hepburn and Hubert de Givenchy / Audrey Hepburn 和 Hubert de Givenchy

Moving love stories have happened in China’s intellectual scene as well. One such story is of the enormously talented female architect, poet and writer Lin Huiyin, who refused heated advances from poet Xu Zhimo and famous philosopher Jin Yuelin, and chose fellow architect Liang Sicheng.



Xu Zhimo died in a plane crash while traveling to attend one of Lin’s lectures, while Jin Yuelin chose to be with her in his own way, silently watching over her. He famously wrote a beautiful poetic couplet praising Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin, and kindled a great friendship with both of them. In the world of these masters, deep spiritual companionship outweighs love and friendship.



From left: Jin Yuelin, Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin with the family of John Fairbank / 金岳霖(左一)、梁思成(左二)、林徽因(右二),以及費正清的家人


Masters in every field, from art to design and fashion, tend to be sensitive people. As public figures, their lives are exposed to the camera flash, and are refracted, even distorted. Perhaps all they can offer for companionship is time, and the practice of their choice. Even if they can never obtain it, and must be forever apart, they still carry on, silent and unwavering. What they pursue is a meeting of souls, a clash of spirits.



Around the world and throughout history, we have all yearned for spiritual companionship. Romeo and Juliet, Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, we find these shadows in every culture from East to West. Of course, there are also plenty of stories like the cowherd and weaver girl, soon to meet under the bridge. They have come together, parted and yearned for each other for a thousand years, with fleeting encounters enough to light up the galaxy.





Adrian Cheng is the art pioneer who founded the K11 Art Foundation (“KAF”), a non-profit art foundation in China to incubate young contemporary artists and curators to promote public art education. By providing young emerging artists with a local, regional and international platform to gain greater public awareness, Adrian is the new generation to represent the contemporary Chinese art scene.

Adrian is ranked among the ArtReview Power 100 list in both 2014 and 2015, and also ARTnews’ Top 200 collectors in 2015, as one of the contemporary art world’s most powerful figures. He is also a Board Member of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority and member of the Interim Acquisition and M+ Museum Committee, a Board Member of the Public Art Fund of New York and MoMA PS1, Trustee of Royal Academy of Arts, Board Director of the National Museum of China Foundation, Director of CAFAM Funds of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Visiting Committee of the Department of Asian Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Member of International Circle of Centre Pompidou, Member of TATE’s International Council and Board Member of Asia Art Archive.

To follow Adrian Cheng on Social Media :
IG: @ac_kaf
WeChat : adrian_artdiary
Facebook Page: @K11 Art Foundation



1 Comment

Leave a Reply

One thought on “How do Artists Express Love and Companionship? / 關於愛情和陪伴,藝術家是怎樣表達的?”