Do not color the wall 不要给墙壁上色

Scotland_edited_edited.jpg

2022

80cms (W) x 60cms (H)

Oil on Canvas

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I got the idea for this picture while I was feeling really frustrated about something that had happened (not so important what it was) and watched a documentary about the Dutch Master Hieronymous Bosch's famous altar triptych, "The garden of earthly delights". The painting has 3 panels; a large panel in the centre which displays people engaging in all manner of 'earthly delights', and on the outside are two smaller panels; one showing the Garden of Eden, the other showing Hell. Please check it out if you're unfamiliar.


Previously I did not actually know that the two outer panels were actually painted on the interior of a kind of door, and on the outside is a dull grey painting of the earth midway through the story of creation. The idea being that you approach this lifeless dull image of a planet; open out the two doors and show this incredibly chaotic and colorful world on the inside.


I liked the idea of using panels to just show a contrasting image. The picture is basically split into 4 sections; the middle two relate to the inner the outer two are the outside. 


This is really a self portrait, but the hooded painter isn't me. I recently bought a sculpture by the chinese artist Huang Yulong whose subjects are usually hollow/faceless hooded figures inspired by religious and hip/hop graffiti culture.


The main themes i've tried to capture without going into too much detail are:

  • Forbidden forms of expression; and rebellion.

  • The cosmetic vs the genuine; and the layers in between

  • The relationship between a piece of art and the surface it exists on.

There's a lot in here that touches on my other work. In Shanghai there's very little graffiti (as oppose to the street art that does exist in specific areas), usually the only wording seen on walls are advertisments for cleaning or instructions that a place has been closed up.


The second image from the left is based on a traditional chinese painting of the 8 immortals, but including my chinese zodiac sign (Pig) and zodiac sign (Pisces). The colors are based on stained glass windows in British churches, linking back to the altar theme.


The third image is based on my other artwork, usually involving old towns, bridges and umbrellas. I'm interested in showing the worn, stained walls that you see in an old city; so the watercolor painting image tries to blend in with that. It's decoration to an extent but it's capturing the same thing it's trying to cover. I also wanted to show that there are several layers of paint covering different types of expression or messaging; painted directly on top, sometimes showing through.


The image on the left represents the expression of passion.

The image on the right represents face. They're half out of the image to reinforce the triptych doors idea.


I've included a number of other references to wall art that is permitted, and not permitted; including from the Monty Python Movie Life of Brian.


At the top there is also a charachter (the stick man) from an old language I saw on a visit to Yunnan. Modern Chinese characters have a lot of visual meaning, so different parts of a characther can hold lots of references. On the trip to Yunnan i saw a display of ancient characters of a largely lost local dialect. All of the charachters were stick figures doing various activities. I wanted to make reference to that lost language. That particular character is 洁 jie, which means clean.