“Schism” – Staring into the Mirror of Our Time

Though I am mostly comfortable in descriptive paintings, occasional visions have compelled me to explore abstract paintings, such as this Schism.

Schism / 裂縫 / Schisma
Schism
Oil on Canvas Board
16″ x 12″
Completed in 2007

The straightforwardly titled painting is dominated by a large object, glowing red and yellow, sitting on top of an equally glowing red slit – the schism, all of them contrasting strongly against the black background. Smack in the middle of the small canvas, the large object can be seen as an escaping ladder, or a doomed arrow headlong crashing into the schism; or, can even be interpreted as the vary agent who caused the schism, with some tragic results for the environment and perhaps even itself, similar to the reckless behavior of the US on the international stage in the last decade, in particular.

This painting, in stark contrasting bi-tones, together with Flow and Party Night, would be exhibited at Expressions Gallery, Berkeley, in an exhibition titled “Does Color Matter?” (October 24, – January 8, 2016 Opening: October 24, 6-8pm).

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.

Deceptive “Leisurely”

My 2010 oil painting, “Leisurely“, featured a calm body of water in dreamy aqua tint, over which swayed some soft bands, reminiscent of weeds or kelp, intersecting with shorter objects – an array of rowing boats.

At the first glance, all looked orderly – Alles in Ordnung. Yet, upon closer inspection, viewers will discover that the seemingly tidy boats in formation, actually were upside-down and they were sinking to the bottom, however serenely, especially the rower inside the completely capsized ship on the top of the painting.

So much for the idyllic scene – an allegory of our uncertain and oblivious time.

Leisurely / 悠然 / Gemächlich, Oil on Canvas, 22 in. x 28 in., 2010
Leisurely
Oil on Canvas
22″ x 28″
Completed in 2010

This painting was published by Wilde Magazine in Issue 2, 2013.

It has been choose to be part of the curated exhibited at Expressions Gallery in Berkeley (25 July – 16 October 2015: Water, Water! Water?.

“White Dress” – Beginning of an Ongoing Series

My still life oil painting, “White Dress”, was inspired by a vision of a tiny white dress floating in a vast open sky.

While working on the painting, I managed to make the delicate-looking dress full of free-spirit and bravura, as it floated against an intense red backdrop, whose hues shifted and varied mercurially, like raging flames. Small, and delicate, yet the small white dress flew on, nonchalantly, unconcerned with its own vulnerability, however threatened by the menacing environ.

The success of this painting gave me an impetus to continue the probe of the psyche of a personified white dress, and embarked on a journey of making a series of white dresses, objects I judged perfect to reflect or stand in as the bodies they are to clothe, as documented in this article: “White Dress” Series Continues – A New Drawing and a New Painting.

This painting was also part of my Apocalypse Series.

It was selected for juried exhibitions at 4th National Juried Exhibition, Prince Street Gallery, Chelsea, Manhattan, New York, 12 – 30 July 2011, and ViewPoint 2007, 39th Annual National Juried Art Competition, Cincinnati Art Club, Ohio, November 2007.

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.

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.

Bird Painting “Crow”

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.

Crow / 烏鴉 / Krähe, Oil on Canvas, 24" x 18", Completed in 2009
Crow / 烏鴉 / Krähe
Oil on Canvas
24″ x 18″
Completed in 2009

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:

Studio Trilogy, San Francisco _ 3591

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
oil on canvas, 20″x16″, 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 “Upstream”

Last week, I shipped to Seattle my 2008 oil painting, Upstream, which has been selected for the juried show, 2014 Evergreen Association of Fine Arts (EAFA) Open Exhibition, at EAFA Gallery in the Seattle Design Center (5701 Sixth Avenue South, Suite P292, Seattle, WA 98108).

This modest painting, measured 24″ by 18″, semi-abstract in style, clearly influenced by Chinese ink painting, depicts a fish or two struggles to swim upstream, against the current.  It is fitting for the painting to travel to Seattle, because it was in that city when I witnessed an amazing salmon run in Chittenden Locks Fish Ladder several years ago.

Upstream / 逆流 / Gegen den Strom, Oil on Canvas, 24" x 18", Completed in 2008
Upstream
oil on canvas, 24″x18″, 2008

This painting was not a frank documentation of that fish ladder scene; rather, when I painted it, I was trying to capture a free spirit, a spirit to overcome adversaries.  I deliberated chose a black and white color scheme, and a bold, almost abstract outline, as I was mostly interested in something elemental, less representational.

This work surely has a charmed life and earned a fair bit of recognitions – in 2009, it was published in The William and Mary Review by The College of William and Mary, Virginia, Volume 47.