acrylic on canvas
Gallery of Spirit Houses
paintings of houses is not new for me. I learned with watercolor, during
my youth in China. But coming to study art in America, not long after
I discovered abstraction, I suddenly found myself painting houses on
fire, over and over. These burning scenes of destruction profoundly
disturbed me. Then in my further work the buildings totally fell apart.
They were unrecognizable: only overlapping black lines suggested part
of a structure. Although I didn’t understand what was happening
to me at the time, I was terrified by the clash of East and West, tradition
and freedom. The tumultuous, onrushing world overwhelmed me.
Since then, the birth of my children and having a loving family have
shifted my view of life. Restless feelings of fear, anxiety and sorrow
toward the ongoing nature of life, have given way to gratefulness and
joy. Although we are constantly caught up in life’s motion, I
deeply appreciate the moments of tranquillity we create between us in
this river of life. The appearance now of these Spirit Houses is not
an accident. They are houses rebuilt from the burnt ruins, memorials
of self, milestones of a spiritual journey.
Although these houses are different than before, one pattern emerges
from my earlier work: I instinctively avoid the sophisticated and artificial.
These buildings are not made by modern techniques, but by humans living
in nature, using primitive tools, building with their bare hands. This
drive—the need to survive and to create—is full of power
and spontaneity and has nothing to do with civilization. It is buried
deeply within the human soul—mysterious and stubborn, manifesting
itself over the generations. In this technological age I find myself
always returning to primitive art, especially cave art and Stonehenge,
seeking inspiration. Using the paintbrush as a chisel, imitating their
eagerness, overcoming imperfections, I commune with those ancient builders
and sense this raw and intimate creative power on the canvas.
The relics that are these houses are symbols of the ongoing human tragedy,
lonely and decaying. But the bones that remain standing represent the
eternal creative power. These houses are not dead: they are still alive
with spirits, silently manifesting their dignity, breathing with the