Featured Painting – C Major

A horizontal canvas divided into two zones, upper part is a white space being invaded by dark clouds from top, while the lower half uniformly dark. Connecting and separating these two spaces are five slightly wilting white flowers, caught in the no man’s land between these contrasting zones, with some of these flowers disintegrating and dipping further into the innermost of the dark space, like invading roots grew into hidden soil. This highly contrasting painting, C Major, depicts a world which was both harmonious and polarized, and the little exchange of these two worlds simultaneously terrifies and entices. Additional layers of lines, spots, and scratch marks, give the painting a patina of an aged photograph.

C major, one of the most common key signatures used in western music, was often the key for many Masses and settings of Te Deum in the Classical era, such as works by Haydn and Mozart. Without flats and sharps, C Major perfectly encapsulates the seemingly absolute separation of order and chaos. Though a bit dated and fading, like an old family album, we still yearn for it, for its orderliness and predictability, which seems forever beyond reach; in today’s world, no matter which key dominates, dissonance persists.

C Major / C大調 / C-Dur
C Major
Oil on Canvas
20” x 30”
Completed in 2018

Featured Painting – Congregation

A giant verdant tree, erect on its strong and knobbly roots, full of colorful chairs hanging from its riotously wide-spreading branches, is quite a heartwarming congregation. Warm and deep colors intertwined with shades cool and pale, helps to create modulating and shifting moods.

Despite joyous colors of those chairs, their positions are somewhat precarious, manifested in a lone chair underneath the seemingly carefree gathering, clinging to the roots of the tree — knocked down, a fallen one, or a cast out one? It would be up to viewers to interpret.

Apropos viewer’s perception, I was also somewhat surprised to hear from a friend on how disturbing the painting was. Those swinging chairs, somewhat called more disturbing images to his mind — hanging bodies swinging in high branches, echoing those from war times documented by Goya, or from not so distant periods of concentrated lynching, whose records were fading fast from our collective memory. This linkage to the darkness was so serendipitous, that even I needed such illumination. Apparently, my intention, combining with viewers’ interpretation, could have generated much more interesting dialogue, thus create another form of congregation.

Congregation / 聚會 / Gemeinde

This painting currently is being exhibited at Berkeley Central Arts Passage, as part of the Unity show (June 16th – October 13th, 2018)

Featured Painting – Birches

A vision serendipitously visited me, and my subsequent partially-successful effort to capture it, resulted in a sparse and drawing like oil painting, Birches. The vision I pursued was a field of blurry birch woods, with the outlines of those slender white trunks emerging and disappearing constantly into darker background, as if the constant ripples of a vast waterbody. My final painting looked almost like the negative of that vision – bright serene background, on which floated silhouettes of several birch trunks, branches, and leaves, isolated or in clusters, in panoramic view, or zoomed-in detail.

Birches / 樺樹 / Birken
Birches
22” x 28”
Oil on Canvas
Completed in 2018

Featured Painting – Anselm Kiefer’s Bathtubs

When artists strive to make things new, we can not and should not completely remove ourselves from the past or tradition. Often, the sediments of the past lend more meanings and poignancy to our new endeavors, or our new interpretations.

One of the greatest living artists Anselm Kiefer, is such an example who is steeped in tradition, and I was often moved by the historical resonances he brought forth to his monumental paintings, often through motifs connecting the past to the present, or the future. One of his striking paintings can be seen in SFMOMA, Unternehmen Seelöwe (Operation Sea Lion), placed a tin bathtub in a desolate field, containing several battleships. According to a curator, the manufacturer of those domestic bathtubs, was also manufacturer of weapons used in WWII by the Nazi armies. Such deft reference was a master stroke of Kiefer’s.

DSCN2046 - Unternehmen Seelöwe (Operation Sea Lion), Anselm Kiefer, SFMOMA Re-opening Preview 7May2016 DSCN2095 - Unternehmen Seelöwe (Operation Sea Lion) (detail), Anselm Kiefer, SFMOMA Re-opening Preview 7May2016

That painting, particularly its intriguing bathtub, left a strong impression on me, and it compelled me to record my understanding and imagination grew out of Kiefer’s motif, and led to a painting which I simply named as Anselm Kiefer’s Bathtubs, which was populated with several of such bathtubs in various planes and angles, as if floating on an open sea or in the space. Inside the central tub, a lonely-looking naked man hunched over and hugged his knees. The occupied bathtub, though surrounded by its “peers”, who were obviously in disagreement with one another, and rendered its lone occupier quite isolated and vulnerable.

Anselm Kiefer's Bathtubs / 安塞尔姆 · 基弗的浴缸 / Anselm Kiefer's Badewannen
Anselm Kiefer’s Bathtubs
22” x 28”
Oil on Canvas
Completed in 2018

Such painting is also my tribute to a leading artist of our time.

Featured Painting – The Wash

My first oil painting completed in 2017, The Wash, continued to explore and express spatial relationship and (ir)regular patterns. This landscape was inspired by some haunting though dimming images crossed path with me a long while ago, of some laundered white sheets, blown wildly by strong wind, struggling to remain on the laundry lines. The rhythmic movements of those flapping sheets generated an atmosphere of both orderly and unruly, and such sense of drama was heightened by the stark contrasts between the blindingly bright sheets and the dark soil and sky, which foretold a menacing storm, poising to ruin the pristine cleanness of those vulnerable sheets.

The Wash / 晒衣物 / Die Wasch
The Wash
Oil on Canvas
22”x28”
Completed in 2017

Featured Installation – Wilting Flowers

Recently I created an installation Wilting Flowers and fully documented the creation and installation processes.

This new effort was spurred by my continued fascination with paper material – delicate, malleable, and transitory, characteristics well suited for hinting at, versus representing, a world full of fragility and vulnerability, constantly under the threat of total destruction.

My local newspaper, “The San Francisco Chronicle”, served as the foundation: a segment of our time, distilled and encapsulated. Inky strokes and splashes were added to the newspaper sheets, which were folded and tied up to form large flowers, with aluminum wires wrapped with dyed twine as stems.

For the background, I chose five sheets of plain white paper, streaked with similar black strokes of ink diluted with various amount of water.

To install, I attached these background paper to a wall in an uneven row, then affixed those flowers, 13 total, to those sheets. There were no strict rules about how to lay out the background sheets and flowers, as long as the finished installation looked balanced, and the flowers largely faced outwards.

I have installed these sheets and flowers on different surfaces – a colorful graffitied plywood wall, or somber looking wooden fences, at different times of the day. The differences between the surfaces, the different light cast on the wall or fence, background sheets and paper flowers, all contributed to a murmuring polyphony.

Wilted Lowers Installation _ DSCN4040 - modified - 800px
Wilting Flowers
Ink on paper and newspaper, aluminum wire, cotton string
40″ x 140″ x 5″
Completed in 2016

Wilting Flowers / 凋萎的花卉 / Wilting Blumen

Featured Painting: “Net” – A Gloomy Urban Snapshot

My 2003 oil painting Net, currently exhibiting at the McGuire Real Estate gallery in Berkeley as part of the “Crowded by Beauty” exhibit, is a study of alienation and anxiety of our time. The vertical canvas is split unevenly into three narrow stripes – a bright and somewhat richly patterned center “panel”, flanked by two darker and simpler outer “panels”; with the slanting perspectives of the outer panels, the whole image resembles an opened-up triptych. Furthermore, the center panel was covered by repeating yet subtly varied outlines of small windows and some interlocking ladders, which tilt in various degrees; the joyless left panel is a simple building façade, immobile, and featureless, except for some blank windows; the right panel features one large window, and behind the casually divided glass panes, there is a broadly sketched sad-looking man, looking out, tentatively raises his hands, as if attempting to make gestures of hesitant acknowledgement.

The strong contrast of the three panels, with the vivid and colorful middle, and somber and austere at the sides, plus the alien-looking ghostly person locked inside his flat, captures a sense of dislocation and disjointedness quite well.

Net / 網 / Netz
Net
Oil on Canvas
30″ x 24″
Completed in 2003

Not a surprise for a painting created at a sad moment of history – it was done in the year when George W. Bush poised to invade Iraq in spite of the fierce and sound oppositions from virtually every corner of the globe. My painting managed to capture the Zeitgeist then; unfortunately, the overall mood still fits today’s gloomy atmosphere.

Atmospheric “Stairwell

My 2000 oil painting, Stairwell, is a monochromatic and atmospheric piece, which captures when early morning light, through side window, penetrates the darkness in a narrow stairwell, casting bright light into the confined, darkness permeated space. Though means of chiaroscuro, together with more subtle interplay of light and dark, I managed not only to have created an overall dramatic atmosphere, also given a clear definition to the tricky space through receding orders, and added depth and accenting details to the sparse and otherwise flat and dreary confinement.

Stairwell

This painting has been snatched away as soon as the paint dried, and last week I received this notification from Owen Wister Review of University of Wyoming:

The OWR would really like to publish your art pieces “Ink and Watercolor Lilies,” “Stairwell,” and “Rafting” in this year’s issue. The colors in your pieces spark emotion in the composition and the texturized strokes are memorable in your work. Attached is a consent form; if you agree please print the form, sign it and scan it back, then email it to us or send it in by mail. Again we really liked your work.

I am quite thrilled and grateful for the recognition.

“White Dress” – Beginning of an Ongoing Series

My still life oil painting, “White Dress”, was inspired by a vision of a tiny white dress floating in a vast open sky.

While working on the painting, I managed to make the delicate-looking dress full of free-spirit and bravura, as it floated against an intense red backdrop, whose hues shifted and varied mercurially, like raging flames. Small, and delicate, yet the small white dress flew on, nonchalantly, unconcerned with its own vulnerability, however threatened by the menacing environ.

The success of this painting gave me an impetus to continue the probe of the psyche of a personified white dress, and embarked on a journey of making a series of white dresses, objects I judged perfect to reflect or stand in as the bodies they are to clothe, as documented in this article: “White Dress” Series Continues – A New Drawing and a New Painting.

This painting was also part of my Apocalypse Series.

It was selected for juried exhibitions at 4th National Juried Exhibition, Prince Street Gallery, Chelsea, Manhattan, New York, 12 – 30 July 2011, and ViewPoint 2007, 39th Annual National Juried Art Competition, Cincinnati Art Club, Ohio, November 2007.

Oil Painting “Mackerel”

I am very proud of my 2007 oil painting “Mackerel”, in which I managed to capture both beautiful and sinister elements of a daily object, fulfilling a most tantalizing pursuit of mine.

With its intense colors and bold strokes, this painting economically presents a sleekly fish, intently staring upwards, as if ready to confront its captor; at the meanwhile, its eye also betrayed the fish’s sad resignation to its imminent demise. The background of the painting was plain drop cloth, hatched lightly, and dominated by sickly greenish-yellow from the left and graduated to an intense blue to the right. The intense vertical blue patch also represents the deep water being turned upright, in a disorientated world.

Mackerel / 鯖魚 / Makrele, Oil on Canvas, 28" x 22", Completed in 2007
Mackerel
Oil on Canvas
28″ x 22″
Completed in 2007

This painting was just awarded of 1st 2015 ArtSlant Showcase Winner.

It was also selected for exhibition at ViewPoint 2009, 41st Annual National Juried Art Competition, Cincinnati Art Club, Ohio, November 2009.

This painting was included in two-person show at Trilogy Studio, San Francisco, 2011, and it was exhibited at Artist-Xchange Gallery, San Francisco, in 2009.