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Chen Zhong Hao

No Sheltering Skies - 无庇护天空

What is this world of Zhonghao Chen?

It is a simple and familiar world—a world of land and sea and sky. A world more terrible than any human creation may pretend to be.

That is the diabolical, romantic promise of nature: to give succour through some contrived but wholly felt assertion of its grandness, its scale, its monumental disregard for all our ink and paper, our mathematics, our civic duties. We construct them all, nature tells us, upon its back, on its premises, in its home, yet we fail to take with us at each step, carrying it on every breath, the knowledge buried beneath our lawns and concrete driveways: that it … it does not, it cannot, it will not care—for these are nothing before its enormity, its mammoth inhumanity, the dazzling kinetic potential of its arbitrary vastness.

Whatever evil you can manage, nature tells us, remember how much more than that that I can do.

This reminder brings strange relief to the pessimistic mind that has lost its gods and finds in its bureaucracy and book-learning only burgeoning verbiage tightly woven round irrelevancies and hermetic economies of pomposity—vacuums of endless endeavour that deplete unsuspecting participants of whatever useful energy and rage they once carried in their cold and starving blindness.

The paintings read like a series of stills in some ambiguous, incomplete narrative. A movie trailer maybe, accompanied by a blasting soundtrack of percussive crashes: an epic drama of destruction and transformation.

Or perhaps together they form a deck of divination cards, telling our fortunes through a futuristic morality saga touching on all the tender moments of a doomed humanity’s fatal apprehension of its world.


The stage is set with the peaceful and familiar joyfull trip: the ship is distant upon  tranquil seas (the bare canvas of our imagination) and floats at peace, separated by two horizon lines from the tumult of the closer ocean. In klaxoning muppets members, that innocent progression is applauded by an entourage of pure vacuity—the same innocent pastel skies behind it, danger announced only by the cue all movie-goers know: that such mindless optimism can only be a magnet for disaster.

And in migrating compulsory & people theory and trans-old school goodies the threat becomes known.

It rises before us.

It is us.

It is us.

It is everything that we do, everything that we know.

Boom-boom, clang-clang, says the music.

It is messy: it is violent waters and tilting earth, an enormous swallowing, a being-done-to.


And with an appalling screech of oboes—a micro-climax—daily substance daily announces battle-lines drawn: two torches, one of canvas earth, one of space-junk sky, ring out a warning to the cosmos, to the cheap Hollywood eye of God.


And so the prelude’s denouement—CV love—where earth, sea and sky fall into brief quiescence. The calm before the storm; a gentle settling that simmers and waits, simmers and waits.

Look at take away landscape and you will see there’s something brewing, something lifting the top off the painting itself, creeping towards a chaotic dominion, emancipated from within the frame, demanding an end to careful boundaries and divisions.

Beneath a gentle smoulder, something screams for its release.


These paintings attack, in quite straightforward ways, the principal assumption behind naturalistic depictions of the world: that it conforms to the qualities we ascribe to it.

Environmental degradation—to take a signal example—is not some outrageous wound caused by human beings upon “the natural world”, but is instead a simple suicidal act by which we ultimately realise the autonomy and hardiness of a nature that can surely survive far greater assaults than we can tolerate or deliver.

The drum-roll described above—the way the first half of these paintings seems to announce some gargantuan battle of the ages—brings the essential conflict of the works into focus: in depicting nature, artists seek to capture it, have it conform to their arrogant notions; but nature can only ever be recalcitrant, polymorphous, multi-linear, uncontainable.

And from that understanding, the later paintings respond in two ways.

On the one hand, there’s the space-surrealist response, re-imagining the world as a choice of fantastic ideas cut from comic books, encyclopaedias, arcade games.

In these paintings—adumbra pen papa come(in progress); mum&dad; mid life magi c rug; post supper super guer; and the old mural—the medium is the message. Unpainted, cut-up canvases and alternative realities signal the artist’s control—most heavily symbolised in mid life magi c rug. He is more free to toy with imagined worlds, less bound by horizons and vanishing points, less married to questions of solid, liquid and gas.

On the other hand, the remaining paintings—C.O.P pool and democarcy meter; hanging out; happy hour, goody time, sculpture greens; and the uncharted caravan—retain a troubled commitment to traditional landscape.

This is more interesting because problematic. The land here must be defiant, appalling, unreconstructed and rank. It must insult and mock the artist; must both terrify and weirdly nurture; must seduce us with an unspecific violence.

The skies rear above rather than fading into distance. The water looks ready to stab at us with iron fists. The earth tilts and sways and races. In hanging out, God appears to give the thumbs-up while human  figures hang from canvas in dire comical straits and still-life fruit lies surreal and unbitten. The land, sea and sky rush in opposite directions, tearing the painting apart, assaulting its pretensions.

The uncharted caravan is perhaps the most interesting of all—and the most traditional. It looks like a classic Canterbury landscape, with plains meeting the ocean beneath a massive, unbelievable hood of sky. Far-away lands are shrouded in distance and mystery. A settlement of sorts competes with silt or mud, awaits encroachment by the sea, testifies to a mythic human tenacity.

But this image is the opposite of eternal. It has already happened, already passed. The land is in motion beneath the paintbrush, vanishing leftwards while the sky races over your head. This landscape is not captured so much as caught in an endless moment of transition.

And it is only at the last that your eye lands on the broken corner, the cut canvas, where the losing of a world we cannot imagine becomes a crueler joke: the painting itself—a pure form—denies your simple expectations. You are jarred back upon yourself in an unpleasant moment of disgust—which softens only later when you find that the missing corner is the centre of the piece: its key, its most logical necessity, its completion.


Creon Upton

Independent Art Critic



这是个简单而且熟悉的世界- 一个有陆地,海洋和天空的世界。一个比任何人类刻意装扮和创造更可怕的世界。

这是自然毒辣浪漫的承诺:用她给予援助,来通过以某种勉强的但完全为她的盛大,她的尺寸,她对所有我们的墨汁和纸张,我们的数学,我们的公民职责的巨大轻视所感到的主张。我们构建了所有这一切,自然告诉我们,在她的背上,在她的地盘,在她的家中,然而我们却疏忽了让她紧随于我们每一步,每一次呼吸和被埋藏在我们草坪和水泥车位下的知识: 她……她不会,她不可以,她不会去理睬–那些在她的宏伟,庞然大物般的残忍,任意浩瀚的灿烂活跃潜力前显得微不足道的东西。












Boom-boom, clang-clang, 音乐诉说着。





因此迎来前奏的结局-《简历爱情》- 那里大地,海洋和天空停留在暂缓的寂静。暴风雨前的平静;一场文雅的安置在酝酿和等待,酝酿和等待。.

看着《takeaway landscape》,你会看到有东西在酝酿,有些东西在将画面的顶端提起,诡异缓慢地蠕动向一个混乱的疆土,从在框内被解放,要求着一个细致界限和分割的终结




来举个例子,环境的堕落– -并不是人类在自然世界中留下的令人无法容忍的创伤,而仅仅是我们在最终意识到自然的自理和强壮远胜于任何我们可以容忍或传递的破坏后的简单自杀行为。




在这些绘画中- 《adumbra pen papa com;《妈妈&爸爸》;《中年魔法飞布》; 《post supper super guer; 和《老壁画》–媒介是主体传递信息。未绘画的,被剪裁的画布和另类的空间征像着艺术家的控制-特别体现在《中年魔法飞布》一画中。他更自由地玩弄着幻想的世界,更少束缚于地平线和透视灭点,更少被嫁接于固体,液体和气体的问题

在另一方面来讲,其余的绘画-《C.O.P 池&民主计量器》;《hanging out》; 《happy hour, goody time, sculpture greens; 和 《the uncharted caravan保持着对传统风景画的困扰的承诺。


天空悬浮在后方而并不是消失在远处。水体看上去像是准备好了要用钢铁爪牙来刺入我们。脚下的泥土倾斜,动摇和旋转。在《hanging out》一画中,当人类与动物悬挂在悲惨的卡通狭区和未被食用过的超现实般横躺着的水果时,上帝似乎竖起了拇指。大地,海洋和天空在朝相反的方向涌来,将绘画撕个粉碎,侮辱着它的虚饰。

《The uncharted caravan》可能是其中最有意思的一副作品-也是最传统的。她看上去像是一副传统的坎特伯雷风景画,画中地面与巨大的,难以置信的兜帽般天空下的海洋相遇。遥远的陆地被距离和神秘覆盖。某种殖民地般的构成物与淤泥或泥浆相竞争,等待着海洋的入侵,一次神秘的人类固执的证实。




Creon Upton