After having worked on a somber series, After Fire, I made a few more cheerful pieces, and I grabbed striking colors. It was great fun to make these vibrant pieces.
A quote from Karl Marx “All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned” perfectly capture our sad epoch and this monochromatic painting of a disintegrating city/landscape reflects such pessimistic sentiment.
On December 2 and 3, fourteen artists and artisans presented paintings, drawings, ceramics, mosaics, and jewelry at Makers Workspace Studio during the East Bay Open Studios (EBOS). It was a successful communal space. I am particularly pleased that my friend Edith Ng presented her beautiful ceramics to the public for the first time, as our guest artist. Her debut brought tremendous energy and many guests to our studio and all of us benefit from her presence.
During the EBOS event, I was able to sell more than a dozen gouache and ink paintings. Here a some of these works:
I am so grateful for all the support I received. Thank you!
My 2022 oil painting, Disperse, captures a hallucinatory moment of a nighttime landscape — between the silhouettes of two monumental and interlocking trees, a group of tiny figures scurrying by, running away from their familiar ground, their fates, their tormentors or captors. The specificities are intentionally omitted, so as to leave the viewers to interpret freely and to fill in the missing details, though the title does hint at diaspora stories in the headlines of late.
Disperse, oil on canvas, 20″x30″, 2022
This piece will be part of the juried exhibition “Within Sight or From Imagination” at GearBox Gallery, 770 West Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94612 (August 10 – September 9, 2023). Juror: Jeremy Morgan.
Opening Reception: August 12, Sat., 1 to 4 pm | Juror’s talk: September 2, Sat., 2 pm
An open, terraced, and desiccated field, dominated by a truss tower of industrial scale, dwarfed by the vault of leaden clouds, served as the backdrop of a small-scaled human drama, which centered on a lone figure looking toward the city silhouette in the distance, as if contemplating his or her future, in the region unknown. All these formed the subject of my landscape painting, Prospect, which suggested some inner turmoil without resorting to gestural embellishments – understated but impactful. I am pleased with the contrast between the vast landscape and the insignificant figure who got lost amid the cold and uninviting surroundings.
Several years ago, while traveling to Seattle, I encountered an unusual man-made lake, whose smooth surface was dotted with numerous bleached tree stumps, scattering across large swatches of the water surface. These turned out not to be tree stumps, rather relics or ruins of former workers’ dormitory sheds, which were abandoned and flooded with the change of the industries. The moving and melancholic image of the disappeared past haunted me ever since, and later the stumps-dotted lake and the ghost town underneath became the subject of my landscape oil painting Still Water, aiming to capture the poignancy of the sight.
Starting this horizontal group portrait in a somewhat more upbeat time, employing a colorful palette, I aimed to create a group of people engaged in dialogues and interactions. However, during the painting process, those figures took more and more an air of despondency, and the vibrant colors started to become untruthful and had to fade. A couple of months later, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the piece was finally completed, it had morphed into a monochromatic nightmarish hallucination, featuring some sketchily painted heads, shrouded in white gauze, turning into different directions, strikingly silhouetted against pitch dark background, and emoting resignation, sadness, and anger. Though compressed in space, they seemed hardly related to one another, and remained in utter isolation; a party without conversation. To their left, a jumble of cantilevered structures protruded from the distance, adding an atmosphere of foreboding and disintegration. This painting ended with a sad wailing note, aptly echoing the signs reverberating in our daunting time.
Missing making art in a community and the interaction with fellow artists, I decided to participate in a painting workshop, and one of the assignments was a small diptych, with one of them to have more and the other less paint. I did my best to capture the fear and resilience of people under threat from Coronavirus. This diptych is aptly titled “19”.
I hope that this small diptych, double portraits of a mask-wearing man and a woman, alert, vigilant, a tad fearful, yet resolute, titled 19, would give viewers a sense of fellowship, and fortify our resilience.
14”x11” & 14”x11”
Oil on Canvas
Completed in 2020
At first glance, Emergence is a calm sliver of routine life due to the simplicity of its composition and color scheme; upon closer inspection, what emerged from this picture was not so simple, rather it revealed something indecipherable and with a hint of sinisterness: against a sparse backdrop, a few curious looking, semi-translucent figures floated like ghosts from behind thin vertical bars, which made the whole landscape reminisce of a jail cell, despite the openness of those bars. What was emerging? Inner strength? Outside menace? Guilty conscience? Or stoical indifference to anyone’s fate?
In recent decades, the economic inequality in the world, propelled by the ever-greedy corporations and individuals, and aided or even championed by purchased colluding governments of various dominance and ideologies, has widened drastically, and the divide between the haves and have-nots has become such an insurmountable gulf that the people behind are increasingly unable to sustain themselves, let alone catching up with those sitting on top of the socioeconomic pyramid. My The Desolates Souls of Main Street attempts to give a tiny protesting voice to the voiceless and faceless downtrodden, whose dire situation, in contrast to the mind-boggling glitzy world of the gilded, is as heart-wrecking as it is damning.