La Greca Magazine
Column on Art and Design
Published in magazine "Knokke Actueel by Prestige" 20th edition
“After women, flowers are the most divine creation” (Christian Dior). Only on the famous Miss Dior dress had I seen so many meticulously placed hand-processed and embroidered flowers! An orgasm of imagination surrounded me in Absolute Art Gallery, when...
I decided to explore the frontiers of Zoute on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The hundreds of paper blossoms in multiple designs and sizes were bursting into an explosion of color. The silence helped me observe the artworks of Hong Yi Zhuang in absolute admiration. The calming white color of the walls and the dim yet adequate and carefully shed light provided the perfect framing which drew full attention to the paintings and projected them like precious museum exhibits. I was standing there all by myself smiling as my heart rejoiced and felt blessed to have experienced such happiness and emotion expressed in that detailed handcraft. I admire people who have this remarkable capacity for patience and diligence, who can dedicate their soul to an outstanding and time-consuming creative process.
After digging further into Zhuang’s work, the influences were obvious. If Monet was our contemporary, his water lilies could look something like that:
In Chinese culture flowers carry a special significance and each one symbolizes a different quality.
Zhuang’s paintings depict peonies – the symbol of riches, prosperity and honor. His well-manicured wall carpets of colorful azaleas possibly represent happiness and a warm passion for life. Chrysanthemums and camellias are the final touch to the composition of a spectacular garden. Zhuang’s paintings bloom with passion and love for his roots. Chinese tradition is reflected in his themes and his elaborate craftwork. Contemporary expressionistic elements of the country that gave birth to Van Gogh are also obvious in his splashes of thick paint and wild brushstroke. His work is a mixture of Chinese and Western cultural influences, a true celebration of globalized diversity. Sculpting mixed with painting and collage techniques result into a flow of bright colors and 3-dimensional forms that sometimes manage to playfully escape the canvas in a surprising and unconventional manner. Based in the Netherlands, Zhuang has been using traditional materials and techniques, such as the combination of rice paper with ink, oil and acrylic paint for 21 years in order to create a rich collection of objects and paintings of utter perfection. He has also been drawing inspiration from his studio in Beijing, where he returns a few times on a yearly basis.
As my greedy eyes raced through the busy canvases and hanging flowerbeds, I wondered how many hours the artist had spent and how many cups of green tea had kept him focused throughout his intense creative streak. It is amazing how a simple walk in a gallery can sharpen your mind and elevate your mood. In fact, so much, that it finally got my mind off Nathalie Portman and I stopped secretly dreaming of Dior. At least for a while…
Author: Marianna Lagakou - Van Zandweghe