In modern China, the rapid and drastic development of economy and technology has led to urbanization. The cityscape has been transformed by skyscrapers and highways into something that had been surreal in earlier days. Nevertheless, traditional Kazan-Seki statues still stand in gardens amid the transformed cityscape.
Kazan-Seki/ Taihu stone is a figurative art made of the characteristic natural stone, a type of limestone. It has been made and valued in the history of Chinese gardenings and is considered as a means to fulfill the desire of people to return to nature. The utilization of deformities and irregularities on the surface of the rock symbolizes the organic formation of the metaphysical (philosophical) world. ZENG Chao sets this Kazan-Seki as his motif and explores its various expressions in his works.
The subtitle "place of 'Ki-In'" is based on philosophy such as Ki-theory. ZENG Chao attempts to embody various philosophical themes with his artistic expressions. He drew on themes such as “Kazan-Seki and places”, “co-dependent spatial and temporal relations of all things”, and “harmony and duality.” Drawing the "place of 'Ki-In'” is a challenge from him to the world and is also a challenge to himself and his works.
ZENG’s paintings are mainly divided into three series.
The first series is called the "dry brush - wrinkle method." He paints on repeatedly to show the texture of the brush that is dry and scratchy. In particular, to recreate the texture of the surface of the Kazan-Seki, its rough deformities and irregularities in thickness, is a crucial point of the series.
The second series is called the "wet brush - wrinkle method" that is based on the lively brushstrokes of traditional ink painting. The key to this method is to maintain consistency of brush touch.
The third series is called the “portrait of a Kazan-Seki-bodied person”. It depicts the loss of the identity of modern intellectuals who are influenced by Tao-ism. Therefore, his study of expressions with Kazan-Seki has become the most prioritized motif as he explores and presents the new perspective of paintings based on this motif.
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