My recent Itinerant is a deliberately ambiguous piece, which depicts three almost identical figures spacing out in an empty boulevard. In the background, there are vague outlines of standing or seated figures, and a couple of vehicles, shaded beneath a huge awning or a theater marquee, or in the cast shadow of an imposing steel-glass structure, whose richly patterned façade was somewhat menacing. The strong contrast between the dark and obscure background and the brightly-lit and clearly defined street generates a strong dissonance. The almost identical postures and shapes of these three figures are enigmatic and hard to fathom. They are like roaming ghosts and can either be the same person appearing in three locations in sequence, or a group of persons march in unison. To ground the tableau, a partial figure bent over to reach the ground appears at the lower right of the canvas, adding an extra visual focus.
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.
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.
Crows are fascinating animals – omnipresent, prophetic and somewhat sinister. There were many crows hover around my neighborhood and quite often I was struck by the peculiar complex air they exude when they perched high on telephone poles, which dotted and dominated the bleak urban/suburban landscape of my environ.
I was moved by such vision to create a painting, titled simple Crow, depicting a lone crow in a forlorn urban space, aiming to capture such leaden atmosphere and desolate melancholy.
Now, this Crow has been shipped to San Diego, for a show titled “The Crow Show: An Homage to The Raven” in Studio Door Gallery.
Exhibition Dates: February 2 – 27, 2015 Mission Valley Reception: February 5, 2015 6:00 – 9:00 PM Ray Street Reception: February 6, 2015 6:00 – 9:00 PM.
Prior to that, it was exhibited in the gallery of a legendary recording studio in San Francisco, Studio Trilogy in 2011: