--- "Jim Chen Solo Art Exhibition"
(held at Chrissie Cotter Gallery, Sydney, 8/9 - 18/9 2016)
This is a retrospective exhibition of Jim Chen's career as an artist. His early sketches of the Great Northern Wilderness were influenced by Russian style. His printmaking pieces were romantic and lyrical with "White Clouds" and "New Field" as the representatives.
In the 1980s, Jim switched to oil painting. His lyrical styles were replaced by more thoughtful themes. In "At Buddha's Country", cheerful excited young travellers and elderly devout pilgrims together created a diverse atmosphere. "A Sunshine Spring" employed certain design elements, colours were two-dimensionally arranged while body shapes seemed to be formed by geometry blocks and with an increasing significance on the constitution of a picture. "Water Festival" was a breakthrough in both decorative style and formation sense, demonstrating an outburst and aggregation of artistic capacities.
In the 1990s in Australia, he focused on creating vigorous and interesting strokes in addition to the rhythms of human bodies in his drawings and sketches. In recent years his oil paintings have become either more realistic and figurative, or more impressionistic and powerful, or more classically attractive. His landscapes have turned semi-abstract, colours purer, and brightness contrast diminished. "Tree Series" is a symbol of vitality, employing an overflowing power of tension.
Jim seems to keep exploring something new, something unknown and something of his own and will never stop. People may feel confused about what he is doing but he just goes straight on. They wonder if Jim is involved in too many types and styles of art he may not be able to develop his own style much further. However, courageous and challenging, Jim is never satisfied with the present. His endless pursuit of art demonstrates the philosophical concepts of life quality as well as life experience.
In the early stages of my art exercise, from the use of lines and shadings to colours, from object depiction to subject painting, I have many modes and art forms, such as printmaking, paintings, comics, illustrations, figures and landscapes. How well a painting or image can be established depends on many factors: the expression of shapes and lines, the employ of colours and strokes and so on. Recently, I am most interested in the combination of different factors in a picture -- the "Picture Constitution", which does not only refer to the composition, but also displays the trends of light & shade, blocks, lines, and the implicated rhythm from all these.
Whether a picture in monochrome or multicolour, people may overlook the overall “hint” from the combination of those factors. They may wish to produce a true reflection of a scene out of their routine habit. He or she may give up their subjective consciousness, and as a result, the artistic significance is weakened. They may put themselves in a passive position when facing natural objects or confront living figures. I even believe that the picture structure, obvious or hidden, at someone’s painting or drawing, is the main difference between artworks and non-artworks, an art world or a real world.
Once we focus on composing the picture, the figurative or abstract levels becomes less important because they all have the same meaning as a constituent element of the picture.
I gave a brief description of my understanding of the “Picture Constitution” when I wrote the book "The Beauty of the Art of Landscape Photography" for China Photo Press three years ago. I also gave a lecture on the same topic at China Academy of Fine Arts in 2013. Fragments of the book are as follows:
"'Momentum' is divided into two: tangible and intangible. Contour and shading of the object will form a certain shape. If the centre-of-gravity of that shape is in the middle, there is no transverse momentum. If the centre- of -gravity shifts outwards, momentum will come into being. Moving objects with a positive dynamic can form strong dynamic lines."
"Light would 'irradiate' and the wind would 'blow.' They all have a positive dynamic, a kinetic energy and force, which can be visible or even touchable on the picture. The facing direction of a human body or face represents the travelling direction of attention, and one's eyesight is able to 'irradiate' to form a 'direction' or 'trend' just like light."
"From the upward movements of the trees and the upward postures of the figures, we can find the overall upper-left momentum, which can be compared to rising air streams or fireworks."
"When the static protagonist is surrounded by other dynamic characters, he or she would become more distinct as a focal point."
I painted my pictures, from unconsciously to consciously, paying attention to aspects of thought as well as skill levels. My consciousness has become stronger from time to time. "The Song of Spring" is lyrical while "In Buddhist Country", "A Sunshine Spring", "Water Festival" and "Lucy" demonstrate the certain meaningful exploration of painting techniques. My recent "Tree Series" is a new experiment of my own. My exploration is in present continuous tense and will never have a stop. This is the nature of creation that I am very fond of.
It is possible that I may return to some kind of unconscious state of being in the future, which is a new kind of freedom.
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