Site specific installation of mix media visual poetry paintings, 10 x 8 inches each
Tagore’s Stray Birds is a poetry collection of over 300 short verses contemplating some of the most universal concepts, such as life and death, joy and sorrow, infant curiosity and elderly wisdom, through nature, love and spirituality. It is one of the most influential works in modern Chinese poetry but is far less well-known among western countries than his Nobel Prize-winning Gitanjali. As my first English book and first modern poetry book, Stray Birds introduced me, at the age of 13, to a new territory of free expression and the simple beauty of the English language. It completely changed my perspective toward life, the world and everything.
My “Stray” series is a collection of small “visual poetry” paintings, each referencing one of the short verses from Tagore’s Stray Birds. The title “Stray” indicates both a state of lostness and a sense of freedom, which are the two major concepts of this project. The entire installation maps out a world, immense and diverse, to explore freely and get lost in. When examined closer, each individual painting becomes a portal to a fragment of thought, intimate and personal for each viewer.
Selection from URECA Exhibition
In this project, the selected verses are first reduced to concepts and then interpreted as visual reflections of my mental state and reactions to the verses at the moment of creation, evident with the various marks, colors, materials and processes. While maintaining an instantaneous and unmediated approach, which is the central idea of my practice, I explore unconventional visual / sensuous / conceptual relations and experiment with novel material interactions. Before creating each piece, a verse is selected and meditated upon until a vision appears, and then the creation begins – plans are made, processes are devised, colors are mixed, substrates are chosen and prepared accordingly. As I follow through with my plans, I observe with wonder and awe a small world materializing under my hands. In the end, each piece becomes a physical object representing an idea about the world around us, both minuscule and cosmical.
A Desolation Song
A Desolation Song (凄凄之歌), 2020-21
Acrylic, white ink, pearlescent pigments, iridescent watercolor medium, graphite pencil and tea on raw canvas
Approx. 42 x 70 inches each set
A Desolation Song is an ode to my hometown Jinan where I spent my entire childhood and teen years, particularly dedicated to the time around Chinese New Year when the clamoring impetuousness of a modern city slows down. The old city seems to be dreaming of its bygone days, of ancient brick walls and flagstone roads, springs and willow trees, reflections of the pale sunlight, thin mists hovering the rivers… Serenity. I used to love taking long walks by myself at wintertime, especially during or after a light snowfall. I always experience this agreeable melancholy; the beauty is so delicate that I fear my disturbance may destroy it. I still cherish that feeling after not living in Jinan for over eight years.
Miroirs #1-3, 2020
Site-specific installation of india ink and white ink on paper, pen and ink on tracing paper mounted on clear plastic sheet, acrylic and pearlescent pigments on clear plastic sheet
Installation Approx. 20 x 280 x 12 inches
Miroirs explores the temporal and experiential aspects of music, using Ravel’s Miroirs suite as reference and inspiration. Part 1 of this project is based on the first three movements, “Noctuelles,” “Oiseaux tristes,” and “Une barque sur l'océan,” which I titled “Night Fairies,” “A Lone Wanderer,” and “Reflections of the Early Summer Sun” respectively. Interpretation of the basic form with shifted emphasis and focus results in three visually distinctive layers, which, combined with the separation and reconfiguration of the music’s mood and motion, blurs the linearity and directionality of time.
Finite Yet Unbounded
Finite Yet Unbounded, A Journal, 2019-20
Site-specific installation of watercolor and various inks on paper and paper lantern
Dimension variable, approx. 50 x 96 x 48 inches
Alternative installation view
Emotions are well defined yet have no distinctive boundaries. They are, much like our universe, finite yet unbounded. Growing up with a mood disorder, I always feel an ocean of emotions. It took me a long time to accept, and eventually embrace, my overly intense and often inappropriate emotions, since they do make life less monotonous and dull, but at times they become overwhelmingly strong and require certain coping mechanism such as journaling. After becoming an artist, I begin exploring this alternative journaling method which enables me to record my emotions as they happen in an expressive manner.
The Witch's Garden
The Witch's Garden, 2019
Site-specific installation of 80 acrylic skin paintings, approx. 7.5 x 11.5 inches each
Dimensions variable, approx. 45 x 214 inches
Exhibition / Installation view
Plants are a curious life form familiar yet alien to human comprehension. They are essential to all life on earth but often neglected, so vastly abundant yet almost invisible. Most humans, even many biologists, tend to have what I call “plant blindness.” As a stray naturalist who has an odd interest in plants, I created The Witch’s Garden as a sanctuary to all plants, ordinary or exotic. Inspired by real plant species, each painting represents a magical plant with a common name, a Latin name, and a special power based on its nicknames, folklores, historical usages, or physiological properties.
Color x Light
Color x Light (Landscape Impression), 2018
From left to right: The Violet Hour, When the First Evening Lights Are Lit, The Hills Where Tiger Lilies Bloom, After the Spring Rain, Ember, Shattered Sky (Among the Waterweeds)
Acrylic, alcohol ink and pearlescent pigments on clear plastic sheet, plexiglass, stretched tracing paper, and Yupo paper, with LED lights
Approx. 65 x 66 inches
This landscape-inspired series features my impressions and memories of six important scenes in life, focusing on delicate sentiments induced by various color schemes. Each “strip” offers a gateway to a perfect moment imprinted in my brain, where I experience an ineffable sense of tranquility and wonderment.
After Life Another Life
After Life Another Life, 2018
Mix media installation
Approx. 30 x 72 x 64 inches
After interrogating my principles and beliefs as an artist for the majority of the year, I found myself stuck in the mud of self-doubt which obscured my vision. After Life Another Life was conceived during that period and was completed at the end of 2018 as a metaphorical funeral where I would “kill” myself and be reborn to a new beginning. The installation consists of three parts: the backdrop (past), the black box (present), and the poster (future), each tells a story with recycled artworks, found objects, images, quotes and symbols.
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