Nature has been the direct inspiration for my art. I am always interested in the unique textures that natural objects present to me, such as tree barks, leaves, snow, rocks and so on. In my recent paintings, I attempt to reveal a semi-abstract and imaginative world by presenting close-ups and exquisite texture of natural objects. I hope my works can provide viewers with a unique angle of looking at nature and discover beauty beneath the surface which nature creates.
My recent series, Tree Barks, is an example of my philosophies. I believe the physical and external appearance of the tree reflects its internal life and change. The tree bark is like the human skin and its multiple layers keep a tree alive. The tree is also a major material to make Chinese paper including rice paper, therefore, I choose rice paper as the primary medium for my work. First, I dye rice paper with different Chinese pigments made from plants and minerals in a desired color range, then add a variety of textures to the rice paper through wood-block printing and monoprinting techniques, this colored and textured paper will be mounted onto several layers of white rice paper to generate a base of a painting, which also simulates how a tree bark is formed naturally. Finally, a semi-abstract painting is created by arranging and gluing the tore papers on top of each other in a designed composition.
Beyond Snow is my ongoing project inspired by the snowy and icy winter of Chicago. I was fascinated by the salt-melted snow texture on the ground and splashed on the car, the snowflakes frozen on my home windows, and close-up icy snow patches outside my door. Salt, snow, water, and Chinese ink are my main mediums to create this series of mixed-media paintings. Through my experimenting with salt, snow, and ink, some abstract and snowy paintings are produced based on my intuition. In some paintings, the abstract images serve as the background layers, and then Chinese fine-style brush painting technique is applied to add details in certain areas for the final touch. This spontaneous (uncontrolled) and fine-style (controlled) painting processes are used alternatively in order to create detailed and imaginative world within and beyond the existing imagery.
For more information about Chunbo Zhang, please visit her website.