Artist: Lei Cheng (陈蕾)
Image size: 42 x 42 cm
Paper size: 66.5 x 67 cm
At first glance, this image is a typical traditional Chinese free-hand-style painting. However, upon closer inspection, you can spot the differences against a traditional Chinese painting. The landscape is not realistic but surrealistic: the mountains grow in flowerpots and the flying paper cranes bear newspaper lines. The artist is trying to create a magical space that is inclined to be austere and flat but invites viewers’ imaginations. The images not only have its roots in traditional Chinese aesthetics but also interact with the complex consciousness and subconsciousness in the contemporary social environment.
Lei Chen is not only an artist working with traditional Chinese media in traditional Chinese style, but also a “modern artist”. Although she was professionally trained at one of the top art academies in China and uses traditional Chinese materials such as rice paper, mineral pigment, and ink, she does not consider her work as typical traditional Chinese paintings.
The most significant factors of one’s art which differentiates him or her from other artists are the concept, his or her emotional and philosophical considerations. Lei Chen is trying to express herself in a way to combine the images of the ancient society and modern society to create new and thought-provoking images. The unknown, such as enigmas, miracles, and secrets of the universe, call her interests toward probing the unknown fields in her art.
In terms of skills and techniques, Lei Chen experiments with new methods based on Chinese traditional painting. She calls this new technique ‘peeling off’, which removes the mineral pigment and keeps the remaining colour on rice paper. It was inspired by medieval European murals. She uses both watercolour and collage in her art as well. In this respect, she believes being a “modern artist” means one should have his or her unique perspective of the physical and moral world; including one’s work and life.
Chen dedicates herself in reading, thinking, and discovering new ideas from her inner self and challenges her own creativity. She believes that inspiration and innovative artistic styles are generated through rational thinking and the constant experiments of different media.