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Chen Zhong Hao

The Peach Spring Beyond This World - 另一个世界的桃色春天

A bouquet of congealed matter erupts into a poisonous yellow sky, the Earth’s curve rapidly descends toward a steaming inferno and then, just as it materializes, the illusion is shattered like a filmic jump cut; the canvas is cut away revealing the painting’s wooden strainer and the wall it hangs on.

There is nothing seamless in ZhongHao Chen’s paintings. While depicting imaginary worlds his paintings acknowledge contemporary concerns regarding surface, illusion and the absence of narrative. Joins are obvious and deliberate and no attempt is made to create a respectable or pleasant appearance. Pictorial illusionistic space is exposed first as façade via warped and shifting viewpoints and then as charade when the painting’s construction is revealed through untouched raw canvas, exposed wooden supports and paint expressed as paint.

The physicality of the painted surface is one of the first things that you notice in looking at a painting by ZhongHao. Its scrubbed and smeared brushstrokes. Its accumulations, mounds and clots of paint. It is paint’s materiality that guides, establishes and forms the images and the subjects of ZhongHao’s paintings. He fuses his images and the raw material of their making in such a manner that it is often difficult to see where one ends and the other begins. Process is integral and the images ZhongHao coaxes from the paint are dependant upon it. What he seeks with paint cannot be conveyed through any other means but paint. The vacuum-packed feel of digital technologies and its manipulations could never equate the visceral impasto of his painted surfaces.

ZhongHao’s bubbling protoplasm of paint has roots in the paintings of Chaim Soutine. Know for painting the dead, rotting and putrid, Soutine ironically imbued his nature mortes with a seething vitality. Albeit in a different manner, ZhongHao drags a similar pulsing life force from the surface of his own paintings; as conglomerations of paint form into primordial soups of toxic waste and fetid pools of possibility. Like consumerism’s forgotten and polluting trash heaps, ZhongHao’s growing multi-colored compost of paint creeps across the surface or piles up against the sides and corners of his canvases in dormant heaps. It is difficult to tell if they are the source of the images that flow around them or whether they are about to swallow them up. Funnels and drains discharge or suck-up colored garbage, as conveyer belts transport amoebic blobs and polluted clumps become ships that float on rivers of sludge. It is as if Francis Bacon had been employed to re-animate Walt Disney’s Fantasia.

Echoes of Soutine’s convulsing gravity defying depictions are also evident in ZhongHao’s landscapes where interweaving landforms, describing worlds both real and fantastic, collide, swoop over each other or hang in space like interstellar flotsam. Earth, air, fire and water pour into each other like an evolutionary scene from Terence Malick’s Tree of Life but rather than describing beginnings ZhongHao’s visions are more akin to Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End. His lopsided worlds often appear as if viewed by overlords from the deck of a hovering alien spaceship. Like Clarke’s 1953 science-fiction novel, do the overlords preside over the earth’s last generation? Are the worlds that ZhongHao depicts like the Tower of Babel, doomed to collapse under its own weight, or is there a hint of utopian possibilities?

Occasionally in the background or on a distant horizon, a Hansel and Gretel cottage, Native American Tepees or the suggestion of a fairytale castle can be glimpsed as if to indicate an oasis of hope from the maelstroms that surround them. A refuge and relief that is extended in the humor of an oddly suspended apple and banana or when a row of Muppet-like heads stare back at the viewer. Or, when the detritus of paint dissolves into multi-colored mountains of psychedelic confectionary and the saturated colors of children’s toys, while pristine areas of untouched raw canvas perhaps hint at an unknown Eden or Peach Blossom Spring.

The Chinese Literati Painters of the 15th and 16th centuries sought through their painting to express the Taoist principle of that which cannot be named but underlies the nature of all things and which can only be experienced through the observation of nature. Usually in Literati landscapes there is only a vague hint of human presence as it was regarded as secondary to the paintings real subject, nature. In ZhongHao’s paintings a human presence is felt in a very different and disturbing way. Spewing mounds of paint, scattered fragments and detached landforms are stitched together into a Frankenstein’s monster of garbage, fantasies, choking color, delights and dark visions as if searching, perhaps in vain, for Taoist principles of harmony in a nature suffocated by a world gone wrong.

Robin Neat

Lecturer in Painting

University of Canterbury



钟昊的绘画中任何事物都是天衣无缝的。在描述虚幻的图像世界时,他的绘画也在对如绘画表面性(surface),幻象(illusion)和非情节性阐述(the absence of narrative)等当代绘画问题进行认知与探索。画面不同部分的衔接非常明显,没有任何特意去使绘画成为通俗易懂和平易近人的尝试。绘画式幻象空间起初通过移动和扭曲的透视方法作为外表展现出来然后被当作猜字游戏(charade)一般通过毫无遮掩的亚麻布留白,割去画布后显露的画框和直接以罐装亚颜料存在形式而涂抹到画面的颜料将绘画的构建揭露。

颜料所覆盖画面的物理性是钟昊画面中首当其次的因素之一。 擦摩涂抹的笔触。 堆积的颜料。颜料的物质性成为了图像创造的启发,本质引导和画面阅读的切入点。他的图像与原始材料的混合创造出了一种特别的甚至无法分别虚实存在的绘画视觉语言。过程是缺一不可的,他在颜料中所诱导的图像与其是相辅相成的。他在颜料中所寻觅的是只有颜料可以给予的。真空包装般的数码技术与其运用是无法等同于他画面丰富的肌理与物质性的画面表层语言的。


苏丁那震动地心引力般的绘画性叙述的影子也可以在钟昊的风景中看到,相互交错的地形地貌描述着真实同时又是极其虚幻的世界,碰撞着,相互吞袭着或者悬挂在类似星级漂流物似的空间里。  土,气,火和水如同泰伦斯-马利克的电影《生命树》中的场景一样扑向对方,但与其解释描述钟昊的视觉世界,他更像是亚瑟·查理斯·克拉克的童年的终结。他笔下的失重世界的视角似乎是在悬浮于空中的外星飞船甲板上的一瞥。像克拉克1953年的科幻小说,上天是否在地球的至高处掌控着最后的人类?钟昊所描绘的是一个巴贝尔塔般的世界,注定最终要在自我超重的命运中崩塌,还是影藏着一丝乌托邦的可能?

偶尔间在画面的背景或者远处的地平线,会隐约出现一座小屋,印第安人的帐篷或者童话故事中的城堡,就像是在被充满污染的大漩涡灾难所包围的环境中对绿洲般希望的寄托。一些微妙的庇护和舒心也在画面中的幽默延续着,怪异悬挂着的苹果香蕉或者是一列张望着观众鸣笛般叫喊的木偶头像。 也许,当颜料的碎屑转变成了堆积如山般五颜六色的幻觉剂糖果和纯色调的儿童玩具物时,那片片未经触及的纯亚麻布正在暗示着一个未知的伊甸或世外桃源。

15 ,16世纪的中国士大夫画家运用他们的绘画方式来表现道家哲理。他们相信天人合一的道于境界是不能被阐释并且只能通过对自然的观察和描绘才能感悟。通常在文人山水画中,人物的描写是微乎的,次于画面首要的主题—自然。在钟昊的绘画中,人的体现是非常不一样并且令人不安的。像呕吐堆积物般的颜料,散乱的碎片和孤立的风景被缝制在一起成为了一只法兰克斯坦的垃圾怪物,幻想,使人窒息的颜色,欢乐和黑暗的预知好似在搜索,或许隐约的,为了那大道自然之则在一个因出了错的世界而奄奄一息的自然中。

Robin Neate