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.
My monochromatic painting Procession is a visually engaging and topically challenging work, which depicts a group of fantastic birds, treading despondently in a nondescript and barren landscape, carrying a dead companion in the middle of their solemn funeral procession. The overwhelming sadness was manifested in the starkly contrasted white and black color scheme, and the bend and stretched postures of those dejected birds, from gigantic to tiny. The loose brushstrokes and the lack of the last measure of definition, also contributed to the unreal and dreamy atmosphere.
Despite some success of my 2015 painting Waft, which was recently published by Pomona Valley Review (Volume 11, Summer 2017), I clearly saw rooms for improvement, and recently I made a new version of the painting, titled Wafting — much darker and more dramatic, with additional whimsicality and humor, lent by the black flakes, resembling playful butterflies, darting above the little girl, who was, as in the 2015 version, running away from the viewer, holding strings tied to floating human balloons, all in the shape of young women dressed in pure white, against much darker and more ominous background, as if in the process of awakening or drowning. I believe that the latter effort was psychologically more penetrating and indeed a big improvement.
My 2015 painting Waft features, against an empty and nondescript landscape, a very small girl in the lower right corner of the vertical canvas, running away from the viewers, while holding strings tied to floating human balloons, all in the shape of young women dressed in pure white, in postures of awakening or drowning. Was it a hopeful dream, or a potentially nightmare? It is up to the viewers to decide. Perhaps, what I captured was the the hope and trepidation of a very young person at that cusp of growing into herself, while facing a future unknown.
This painting was chosen as cover art and as a featured piece on page 19 by Pomona Valley Review (Volume 11), published by California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, in July 2017.
My first oil painting completed in 2017, The Wash, continued to explore and express spatial relationship and (ir)regular patterns. This landscape was inspired by some haunting though dimming images crossed path with me a long while ago, of some laundered white sheets, blown wildly by strong wind, struggling to remain on the laundry lines. The rhythmic movements of those flapping sheets generated an atmosphere of both orderly and unruly, and such sense of drama was heightened by the stark contrasts between the blindingly bright sheets and the dark soil and sky, which foretold a menacing storm, poising to ruin the pristine cleanness of those vulnerable sheets.
Inspired by the lush fall colors in the valleys, and rushing cascades in the mountains of Yosemite, which I recently visited, I made a gouache painting, titled Cascade, trying to capture the spirits and impression of the marvel, instead of literal shapes and shades.
A simple and heart-warming souvenir.
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.
As if I had anticipated a gloomy election season to conclude this year, back in late January, I worked on and finished a painting titled Apprehend, featuring a lonely bird, enclosed in a disorienting and confused space, sketchily defined by indistinct horizontal and vertical stripes of various thickness and shades of blue, black and yellow.
The bird, in cautions pose, peers into the uncertain distance, seemingly full of expectation and comprehension, an apt metaphor of people in this traumatic post-election time.
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.