Renewed is an unlikely integration of two media: photography and Chinese painting. It is also a union of two contrasting subject matters: electrical power generation and classical Chinese landscapes. The two collaborating artists are a mother-son pair: Shiao-Nan Chen and myself, Mark Chen.
My earliest artistic influence came from my mother, when she held me in her left arm and painted Chinese watercolor with her right arm. For the most part of my life, this influence seems to have been dormant at best, when it was not rebelled against. My modern view on arts which emphasizes experiments and originality have been conflicting with Chinese paintings’ spiritual and traditional foundation.
Only recently, in the process of writing a book on the subject of photographic composition, had I realized that her influence clearly has resided in my subconscious level. This became evident when I repetitively referenced her paintings for compositional elements.
My personal, an “east meets west” journey is also playing out by a much larger entity, China, when it makes a transition into prosperity. The economic boom led to much higher power consumption. To provide electricity to the vast 1.35 billion population with fossil fuel, the emission has rendered the air unbreathable. In a desperate attempt to remove Beijing’s persisting, impenetrable smog, China has built wind farms in Inner Mongolia in such a tremendous pace, in four years its total capacity has rivaled Texas’, United States’ capital of wind power.
These two journeys will now cross their paths, as Shian-Nan Chen and I address China’s energy predicament artistically, in a collaboration of photography and Chinese painting. While working on this project, Shiao-Nan Chen will be facing experimental challenges and I will be embracing traditional practices, both at unprecedented levels.