Zhuang Hong Yi draws influence from both his upbringing and education in China, as well as from his experience living in the Netherlands, where he is now settled with his wife. After completing his studies at the Sichuan Fine Art Institute, Zhuang felt himself strongly attracted by the western world.
In Zhuang’s post Mao China strong signs of change could be felt, but society continued to be torn between fear and hope, tradition and modernity, and artistic training could not deviate much from the traditional rules of the academy. He thus turned to Europe, and the Minerva Academy of Visual Arts, to pursue an independent artistic career, and on in which he felt he could express himself more freely. Zhuan felt that the European art of the time trended in more diverse, imaginative, and less commercial ways, as compared to the popular traditional styles prevalent in China.
What he sought in the Netherlands was not a new ideology but rather the mental freedom to produce works according to his pure expressive energy and to build a career based on the traditions of his native country. His work, now shaped by the meanings of colors and materials, analyses the space separating form from content. As a visual artist, Zhuang believes that the aesthetic is the most powerful element he can employ, basing this philosophy on the belief that the expressiveness of images begins with their appeal.
After many years living in Europe, Zhuang has not weakened his ties with China. In fact he still has a studio in Beijing, where he travels regularly to work, immersed in his culture of origin. Chinese folk art, its materials and how they are used, provide him with an inexhaustible source of inspiration from which to gather new ideas.
Zhuang’s paintings are often characterised by a bold and surprising mix of bright colours and are made of mysterious layers of images. His work, both attractive and seductive, is almost sculptural, given its three dimensional nature, and reflects his desire to evoke in the viewer a magnetism between the tactile and the delicate floral forms. Handmade one by one from rice paper through vibrant colours that are mixed dynamically between texture and brightness, his paintings provide an environment where renewal and tradition may go hand in hand, creating a dialogue between traditional canons and contemporary conceptualism.
BLOSSOM: The Art of Zhuang Hongyi’ will open on March 19th. The exhibition will run until May 30th, 2014, at the Hua Gallery, London.