Dichotomic “In Distant Country”

One of my paintings selected in a recent exhibition at Berkeley Central Arts Passage, Today’s Artists Interact with Major Art Movements from the Renaissance to the Present, is a painting of part cityscape and part animal figure study.

In Distant Country / 在遙遠的国度 / In fernem Land
In Distant Country / 在遙遠的国度 / In fernem Land
Oil on Canvas
22″ x 28″
Completed in 2011

The left side of the painting, in shades of washed-out gray, depicts the Old St. John’s Hospital, an 11th-century hospital in Bruges, Belgium while the right side zooms in one of the omnipresent swans and the symbol of that ancient city, painted in intensely saturated rich hues. I conceived this painting while visiting Bruges, when I was quite intrigued and even moved by the stark contrast of immobile and somewhat faded history and threadbare nobility, and the living creatures full of grace, energy and slight menace.

Furthermore, I named this title to ensure that the German title In fernem Land is the first line of the most celebrated aria by the title character in Wagner’s opera Lohengrin, a mysterious knight arrived in a boat drawn by a swan, narrating his mythical original and his frustrated hope by lacking of faith he demanded from a woman he loved and rescued, whose child-ruler brother was turned into that swan and his disappearance had triggered a chain of events.

The medieval building and the medieval story interwoven, the purity and menace of this lofty bird, along with the historical baggage of Wagner, conspire to add extra meanings to this rather deceptively simply painting.

Featured Painting “Siege”

My painting, “Siege”, currently on view at Berkeley’s Arts Passage, in an exhibition titled “Today’s Artists Interact with Major Art Movements from the Renaissance to the Present”, is an almost terrifying work, depicting a wounded seabird being swamped by relentless, aggressive crabs. The painting was inspired by literature, which has played important role in my art making process, as documented in this guest blog on Superstition Review: “Literature Inspired Paintings”.

Siege / 圍攻 / Belagerung
Siege
Oil on Canvas
18″ x 24″
Completed in 2010

While reading the novel Europe Central by William T. Vollman, I responded strongly to a passage (page 497): “Have you ever seen an injured bird at the seashore? Here come crabs from nowhere – they wait under the sand – and ring it round, cautiously at first, before you know it, the first crab has leapt onto the broken wing and pinched off a morsel. The bird struggles, but here come other crabs in a rush.”

That passage, to me, summarized the helplessness of the Europe during World War II, which, viewed through historical magnifier, constitutes the distilled essence of human suffering.

The image conjured up by Vollman was translated onto canvas by my paint brush has made fairly strong impression on viewers.

“Progression” – A History

My 2009 oil painting Progression, conceived and executed after our nation and the world had suffered the dark era of George W. Bush, and entered an epoch ought have ushered in some changes in the U.S. following the ascendency of President Obama. Alas. It was not to be. Many people’s feverish hope proved constructed from thin air, and the changes were ever elusive, and the human rights abuses we collectively permitted largely remain in place. The long list of human sufferings continue.

My painting attempted to catalog such sufferings in a collage of iconography images, from Jesus carrying the cross to Calvary, Michelangelo’s slave sculpture, David’s Liberty Leads People, and the hooded abused prisoner in Abu Ghraib. The focal point of the painting is the sad face of an earnest man, personification of the sorrows and compassion of humankind.

Progression / 進展 / Entwicklung, Oil on Canvas, 30"x24", Completed in 2009
Progression
Oil on Canvas
30″ x 24″
Completed in 2009

Here is a video presentation of this painting:

This painting has been choose to be part of a group exhibition, Today’s Artists Interact with Major Art Movements from the Renaissance to the Present, at Arts Passages in Berkeley (22 August – 11 November 2015), curated by Expressions Gallery in Berkeley.

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.

Oil Painting “The Triumph of Saint George”

Just when the ill-conceived and ill-fated Iraq-invasion led by US president George W. Bush keeps and the prime minister of UK, Tony Blair, finally started to fade from our collective consciousness, it sprang back with vengeance in the tides of horrible stories and images.

Now, confronted with the terrifying aftermath of their reckless joint-decision, George W. Bush keeps mum, while Tony Blair tries desperately to white-wash his hands, yet however often he screamed “Out, damned spot! out, I say!”, his hands, together with those of GWB’s and Dick Cheney’s, would forever be stained with blood, gushed from the mangled bodies of US soldiers and Iraqi people.

During his horrible and incompetent presidency, George W. Bush (GWB) was often criticized as an imbecile ninny occupying a high office due to his fabulous family connection – his father Georg Bush was the president of the US from 1989 to 1993.  To me, that argument was incorrect and way too benevolent.  GWB did many horrible things not due to his stupidity, but his fundamental believe in those horrible things.

To me, this painting of mine below, The Triumph of Saint George, created during the time he was drumming up the invasion of Iraq in 2003, reflects what he was; the painting also jump-started my ongoing Apocalypse Series, to commemorate the miseries of humankind.

The Triumph of Saint George / 聖喬治的勝利 / Der Triumph des Heilige George, Oil on Canvas, 48" x 30", Completed in 2003

11 Paintings Completed in 2003 (part 2 of 2)

I had hoped that what I depicted in that painting would be simply a warning sign, rather than, unfortunately, a most awful prophecy as it turned out.

History will remember George W. Bush and Tony Blair, not kindly.  As an artist, it was my duty to record and reflect the time I live in.