Featured Painting – One Fine Day

My 2007 oil painting One Fine Day soon will conclude its five-month long exhibition at at McGuire Real Estate Gallery in Elmwood District, Berkeley. This painting, in somewhat sickly moon light tone (pale Prussian blue), depicted a school of agitated and thrashing fish, tightly packed in confining space, bulging eyes telegraphing anguish, straining to escape of a deadly trap they had unfortunately fallen into.

The ironic title I chose, perhaps ought to be ascribed to some lucky fishermen. And that spoke the volume of the relationship of mankind and the unfortunate nature.

One Fine Day / 美好的一天 / Ein schöner Tag
One Fine Day
Oil on Canvas
22″ x 28″
Completed in 2007

Featured Painting – Birches

Nurtured by many Russian novels while growing up, I developed a special feeling towards the omnipresent birches, which not only aptly set the scenes and evoke the particular melancholy especially associated with Russia and Russian people, and finally, I made effort in 2006 to try to capture such feelings with a painting titled Birches, which is currently showing at the McGuire Real Estate gallery in Berkeley as part of the “Crowded by Beauty” exhibit.

I love the slender shapes of the trees, the softness of the finely-layered birch barks and their eerie silver color, and above all, the eye-shaped knobs imprinted on the trunks from bottom to top, as if birches were meant to be the chosen observers from silent world, so as to judge humankind.

Birches / 樺樹 / Birken
Birches
Oil on Canvas
22″ x 28″
Completed in 2006

That painting is also a play of optical illusion – amongst the eyes on the trunks, there was a singular eye floating in the space, unattached, between two indifferent birches. Inundated by so many eyes, this oddity was not immediately obvious; once detected, one might ask, if this is a most determined birch eye, the eye of an invisible human, or just a wandering independent eye belong to nothing and no one.

“Shadow” Over the Land – Featured Painting

My landscape/allegorical oil painting, Shadow, depicts a fantastic world – a vast furrowed dark brown field, whose parallel ridges converge towards the distant horizon, which was dotted with a cluster of very insignificant white buildings, centering on a little church spire, which was barely visible. The contrast between the enormous dark fields and the tiny white village is highly dramatic, yet that is topped by several huge leaden and apparently weighty clouds, which curiously cast no shadows; instead, adds mysterious and menacing atmosphere, gliding over the entire field, s a huge shadow of an invisible bird, very much the personification of foreboding.

Shadow / 影子 / Schatten
Shadow / 影子 / Schatten
Oil on Canvas
30″ x 40″
Completed in 2008

Interestingly, this painting just joined a group show, titled “In to the Future“. Perhaps, this ominous world is the vision of the future?

Terrifying “Devils’ Dance”

My oil painting, “Devils’ Dance”, created in 2004, was inspired by passages from the novel by the late Nobel Laureate Günter Grass, “The Tin Drum” (Die Blechtrommel).

As described in “Arabesque” and Other Paintings Inspired by Literature, Grass’s “The Tin Drum” moved me to create the painting mirroring his nightmarish depiction of book burning by the Nazis. The archaic scroll with the proclamation of “Faith, Hope, and Love” on the top portion of the painting, I hope, echoed the perverse scene in that passage from the novel.

The painting was created during the dark period when George W. Bush recklessly invaded Iraq, arguably for religious reasons. I found the book burning ritual aptly reflected the paranoid and xenophobic mood of GWB’s America.

Devils' Dance / 魔鬼的舞蹈 / Teufels Tanz, Oil on Canvas, 30 in. x 48 in., 2004
Devils’ Dance
Oil on Canvas
30″ x 48″
Completed in 2004

This painting was published by Synchronized Chaos, an interdisciplinary art, poetry, literary, science, nature, cultural issues, and travel writing webzine in October 2009 and by Howard University’s review magazine The Amistad in Spring 2007.

It is currently being exhibited at Expressions Gallery in Berkeley (18 April – 17 July 2015: Hop, Skid & Jump.

Featured Oil Painting “Father and Son”

Father and Son / 父與子 / Vater und Sohn, Oil on Canvas, 20" x 16", Completed in 2013

Father and Son / 父與子 / Vater und Sohn
Oil on Canvas
20″ x 16″
Completed in 2013

Often, when I started to drift into sleep at night, my restless mind would conjure up some images more imaginative than I could think of when I was wide awake.  Sometimes, during those dreamy moments, my mind kept its presence and I was able to rouse my in order to make a quick sketch or to, attempting to capture those fleeting impressions.

A recent such instance presented me an entangled group of tight embracing muscular bodies, in agony or ecstasy.  In the end, my decipher of the image drew the conclusion that it presented the embrace and reconciliation of estranged persons who ought to be close to each other, father and son.

Base on that quick sketch, I made a monochromatic and muted yet quite evocative and powerful painting, on the theme of Prodigal Son.

The strength of this piece lies in its universal touching theme, the heartbreaking posture of those once broken men, the strong outlines of the figures and the high relief of the bodies.

The painting is small in format but big in the feelings it emotes.

Featured Oil Painting “July Meteors”

July Meteors / 七月流火 / Juli Meteoren, Oil on Canvas, 20" x 16", Completed in 2014

The title of this painting, July Meteors, originates from a Chinese phrase, 七月流火, which means that in July, when stars move westbound, cooler weather arrives soon; I have always been drawn to the mystic and somewhat fatalistic image of this concise yet profound phrase, without much understanding.

Right before the Fourth of July this year, suddenly there was some unexpected disturbances took place in my life and I was mostly assailed by shock and dismay, out of all things, and soon I was enveloped in a chill, much colder than the already too cool San Francisco summer.

It was the realization of abrupt and decisive change caused me much alarm and disquietness and then I suddenly understand the meaning of that phrase, and the helplessness sedimented through thousands years of valiant and often futile struggle, and composed this rather evocative abstract piece, to channel my compound feelings.

I entered this piece for a juried exhibition and silent auction at Berkeley Art Center and it was accepted for the event.

Exhibition: October 18-25, 2014
Gallery hours: Wednesday – Sunday 11:00am – 5:00pm

Silent Auction Fundraiser:
Saturday, October 25, 5-9 pm
– VIP Reception 5-6 pm $70 VIP Ticket
– Auction Main Event: 6-9 pm $40 Auction Ticket

Oil Painting “Interaction” – A Group Portraits

Painting portraits can be very challenging and rewarding – how to capture the spirits of the sitters, how to render the physiognomies and the postures faithfully yet with artists’s personal touches, how to connect the sitters to the viewers, and most importantly, to ensure the relevancy of painted portraits in the era of digital cameras and smartphones.

One of my best portraits was a group of young men, me in the middle and two college friends at the two sides of the canvas. We sat on stone benches, looking serious and somewhat despondent, and aimed our eyes away from another, into different directions. It was a moment of uncertainty, a private consultation in a group setting, a dialogue with oneself, and a congregation without exchanges. I titled it “Interaction”. My relatively broad brushstrokes rendered the bushes in the background a hallucinatory backdrop, and the deliberately bland facial features were economically outlined – a kind of abstraction.

Interaction / 交流 / Interaktion, Oil on Canvas, 30" x 48", Completed in 2002

Interaction / 交流 / Interaktion
Oil on Canvas
30″ x 48″
Completed in 2002

10 Paintings Completed in 2002 (part 1 of 2)

I am quite proud of this work, as it captured the spirit of then Chinese collage students, who were facing very uncertain futures, in the age of political corruption and crackdown around the time of 1989 Tian’anmen (Tiananmen) Massacre and a very harsh economic future. I just posted a blog on my trip to Beijing during the time the martial law was about to be declared in Beijing and the ordeals my fellow students and I endured during the sit-in on Tian’anmen Square, which will explain more of the background story to this painting, a souvenir of my youth: 25 Years Later, Smell of Exhausted Tian’anmen “Warriors” Lingered.

This painting was selected for 23rd Annual National Juried Exhibition, Berkeley Art Center, July 23 – August 26, 2006.