Dream Forest continued my exploration of monochromatic paintings consisting of interlocking patterns and shades, some simple, some more intricate. This small gouache painting depicted an imaginary forest at night time, when moon light shimmered over truncated trunks and branches, contrasting starkly with dark surrounding. Also, the image somehow resembled a microscopic view of organism, a tiny sliver of macrocosm.
Identifying myself primarily a representational artist, does not exclude me from time to time being drawn to purely abstract visions, which excite with contrasting or even clashing colors, interplay of of shades, lines, and intricacies of patterns and forms. One of my successful results is a recent gouache painting, Time Frame, which intrigues viewers with ever expanding viewfinders, appealingly complementing secondary colors, and an array of ever shifting lines of different lengths, angles, and hues.
This painting will be exhibited at Berkeley Expression Gallery, September – December 2018, as part of the “Autumn Colors” group exhibition.
One of my attempts to capture fleeting impressions of well-known Greek mythologies resulted in an abstract painting Paris and Three Goddesses, whose pink and golden color blocks in the background signified the dangerous intermingle of the mortal and immortal worlds. Three powerful goddesses, Hera, Athena and Aphrodite, were represented by three richly colored powerful beams, which penetrated the human world below, while circling like sharks of their prey a small globe — the golden apple, to be awarded to the most beautiful one, planted by the spurned goddess of discord.
Poor Paris, represented by the golden color associated with another golden male beauty Apollo, was pinned down by those powerful beams above, and responded with blue sparks, echoing the beam of Aphrodite alone, risking the wrath of Hera and Athena, for the sake of the most beautiful woman on earth, the Queen of Spartan Helen, the promised bribery from goddess of love, and eventually launched thousand ships and unleashed the ten-year Greco-Trojan war, and caused unspeakable misery for many, many more.
Little ones are perennial pitiful playthings of the powerful ones.
Paris and Three Goddesses
Oil on Canvas
14″ x 11″
Completed in 2012
This painting is currently in a Group exhibition Color Speaks (Sep. 23, 2017 – Jan. 20, 2018), in Downtown Berkeley’s vibrant art district.
My recently painting New Century’s Shangri-La is rather visually intriguing — a colorful and orderly semi-abstract landscape/cityscape, serene and paradisal, being menaced by heavy dark storms swirling above, which threaten to crush down at any moment and bring havoc to the orderly world below. The ironic title unfortunately aptly described the state of our world, if not yet today, soon tomorrow.
The inspiration of my 2017 oil painting, Autumns Impression was a photo I chance encountered – a room of eerie green light, resembling electric currents, against a background of a irregular pattern of wavering pink tiles. Besides the striking color palette, I was also intrigued by the shifting spatial relationship between the light and the background, thus moved to commit my appreciation to canvas.
Naturally, I would not ape the photograph; rather, the photo served as a springboard for me to “record” my vision. The painting soon departed from the electric glow, and morphed into an impressionistic abstract landscape, and reached a state that I could stop and consider the project complete, though the painting was not truly satisfying.
With layers of additional paints applied to the canvas, it moved further away from the inspiration and my initial attempt. Now, the colors of painting somewhat recalled what I saw in Yosemite National Park I visited last fall, therefore, a new resolution presented itself and I happily complied.
I managed to find the good balance of recalling the spirit of a slightly unhinged forest or meadow, softened by some darting patches of rather joyous colors, without being slavishly realistic. It’s a recollection of memories and emotions. The spatial relationship of many elements and colors of the painting, though not the same as the photograph, was also similarly intriguing.
The first painting I completed in 2017, Origin, was an abstract gouache painting, with yellow dusts scattered on a very dark background — red and blue streaks intermingled with swirling thin layer of black paint. A striking contrast and beautiful presentation, perhaps depicting the beginning, or end of the time.
The inception of this piece was a strange one. It was inspired by my aged, multiple-layered, and simultaneously muddied and rich-hued palette. A small vision triggered a larger one.
My last oil painting completed in 2016, Remembrance, featured a ghostly profile of a pale and pensive person, occupying lower third of the canvas, head bending down, in deep thoughts, with a barely registered presence. Against this sketchily and thinly painted bust, the strongly accented abstract and dark background, asserted itself strongly, and became obvious the representation of the things to remember, a commentary to his thoughts. Perhaps, the winding road or river in the far background reminded him of the toil in the past; perhaps, the repeating pattern of vertical shapes, reminded his of the hopes raised in the past and perhaps not wholly accomplished, or even lost. An apt conclusion to a quite regrettable year of the turbulent 2016.
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.
The motive behind my oil painting Trot was my wish to explore tonal contrasts and arrive at a certain balance of playfulness and menace.
The subject of this study is a cat, or two. Before I started my oil, I made several preliminary sketches and once I committed my ideas to the canvas, I proceeded with a cat with upright head. Somehow, after the composition had more or less taken shape, I noticed a more dynamic and emotional sketch with a cat whose head was bending down, thus I incorporated that cat into the canvas.
The finished painting more or less achieved my goals, though the subject can be seen as two cats running side by side, or just a cat captured at different time.
My first successful pastel painting, Typhoon, is an abstract piece inspired by devastating typhoons unfortunately have been creating ever-heavier havoc recently, due to the undeniable climate change. Exploring spatial relationships, subtle variations of tones and shifting of patterns, I tried to capture the something unpredictable and the menacing.
This painting is currently being exhibited at Expressions Gallery in Berkeley, in a show aptly titled “Into the Future”.