Tang Contemporary Art is pleased to announce the opening of the solo exhibition by Hao Zecheng, titled “Grand Tour Through the Stars and the Moon”, at our Hong Kong Central Space on September 1.
Hao Zecheng's recent paintings continue his usual focus on "photographic landscapes", with the viewpoint shifting from a broader lens of the grand wilderness to a closer focal point on the flickering glimpses of his surroundings. By setting aside the sense of epic-ness in the landscape and the symbolisms in its imagery, the picture then becomes fragmentary as if captured simultaneously on a camera and on a canvas, as if a “landscape moment” that can be infinitely extended.
The light in “the Stars and the Moon”, as of the exhibition’s title, is read literally in Chinese as “Mu Guang”, which shares the same pronunciation as the Chinese word for “vision” – directly resonating with Hao Zecheng’s previous solo exhibition in 2022 “The Visions in My Mind”, while also acting as an expansion and an addition from “vision” to “light” in Hao’s artistic practice. It is also a reference to the artist's life, constantly bathing in times in front of monitors and phone screens. Precisely because of the parallelly dislocating and analogous nature between artificial light and natural light in this current era of "electronic colonization", the coexistence of street lights and pixelated light (through lens flares and highlighted exposure) in Hao’s works transforms these light sources into an ineludible part of the landscapes. Painting can, therefore, capture, mimic, and represent photographic imagery sensibly.
“Grand Tour”, as of another part of the title, was popular in Europe in the 17th to 19th centuries. Young men of noble birth often set off from England, crossed the sea and climbed the mountains, travelling to European cultural hubs like Italy and France, and at times even to the Far East. The duration of these tours range from months to years, during which they visited ancient monuments and famous temples, and brought back famous paintings and art collections. The “grand” in grand tours vividly depicts how ambitious is this journey in exploring the arts, as if a mitzvah that educates those young men. “Tour”, then, emphasizes the extensive exploration and subsequent practices, complementing what is learnt from books. During the Enlightenment period when science and discernment were prized, grand tours help set aside temporarily the worldly pragmatism, and with a mythic nature like in the Exodus and a sense of Romanticism, restore the self-identity in the journey goers. Returning to the exhibition, Hao Zecheng is exactly one of the young men, as a young artist, to be progressing through this “Grand Tour”, learning about tolerance, contemplation, and self-evolution. This also explains Hao’s determination in moving forward this artistic journey as if he is destined to do so.
"Painting photographs is a faithful and sentimental endeavour. It directly confronts lost time; but it also rejects the notion of passing" - Hao Zecheng
Painting a "lost eternity" is both a method and a theme in Hao’s paintings. In the new works of this exhibition, Hao Zecheng still represents photographs in the style of painting (rather than painting in the style of writing), aestheticizing and poeticizing private moments and historical moments, and projecting them unto the "dense syndrome" of the post-modern social life. For example, in the new painting where the sky crosses over the branches of the trees (counter-white and luminance masking), and where the light wraps around obstacle s further impressionize the already-defined moment. This methodology, which blocks "deconstruction", defies logic, and may even be counter-intuitive, is not only to emphasize "man-made imagery" or the "symbolism of landscapes", but it reinforces "the traces or pictoriality within photography itself".
In other words, photography also encodes and poeticizes the landscape on its own. The definition of a good image or a bad image is thus suspended and even subverted. This somewhat negates the traditional "evidence" in the rhetoric of photography and the "landscaping" in the rhetoric of painting. And it suggests a vague and possible pleasure: like a long walk with expected return but without any destinations; like the points of overexposure or out-of-focus when a camera is focusing on one other point; and like the indistinguishable stars and moonlight intertwined together among the haze of clouds.
Under the surface of photographic images and paintings, we may find an unobservable, yet real and hidden beauty that we desire.
Image of Unknown Mountain Fire In The Night Oil on linen 200 x 480 cm 2022
Become Banian Tree Oil on linen 200 x 160 cm 2023
Christmas Tree in July Oil on linen 200 x 160 cm 2023
Twins City Oil on linen 160 x 200 cm 2023
Room with Margaret Oil on linen 160 x 200 cm 2023
An Art Dealer Oil on linen 200 x 320 cm 2023
A Golden Shadow Oil on linen 120 x 90 cm 2023
Wild Lily Oil on board 40 x 30 cm 2023
Night Grasses Oil on board 40 x 30 cm 2023
Night Tree Oil on board 40 x 30 cm 2023
Two Moons Oil on board 40 x 30 cm 2023
Island Oil on linen 250 x 200 cm 2023
Little Pond Oil on linen 100 x 80 cm 2023
Star In City Oil on linen 100 x 80 cm 2023
Night Shade Oil on linen 100 x 80 cm 2023
Light Scratch Oil on linen 100 x 80 cm 2023
Second Two Oil on board 50 x 40 cm 2023
Second One Oil on board 50 x 40 cm 2023
b. 1993, Beijing, China
Hao Zecheng uses photographs and memories as references to depict the neglected scenes of daily life. Through the detailed depiction of noise and light spots in the images, he creates an image of overlapping time, space and events. The themes of his contemporary landscapes are fluid, such as "the landscape being a delight", "the landscape being a pleasant fear", "uncertainty and the sublime", "utopia and escapism", and so on. The memory remaining in the snapshots transforms as the structure of the painting expands and the point of interest moves, and the image escapes into a poetic space through memory and noise. The artist's purpose and deeper meaning are suspended. Instead, what are emphasised is the body and its traces, which all hints at Hao Zecheng's trance and dissonance when placed in the contemporary artistic discourse and the gap between Eastern and Western cultures. He chooses to use slightly melancholic brushstrokes to write the photographs, aestheticizing and poeticizing private moments and historical moments, and projecting them unto the whole post-modern life. Facing the dilemma of alienation, he seems to find a moment where memories, reality and imagination are intertwined, a way back to spiritual stability and eternity.