Zhuang Hong Yi can best be described as a Chinese, contemporary artist who has impressed audiences in different countries by his unique style in his many pieces of modern art. His works represent beauty, sophistication and a high level of perfection with a clear presence of Chinese influence represented in his use of colors, themes, shapes and materials that touch the heart.
He was born in 1962 in Sichuan, China. After he had finished his artistic education at the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute - the oldest and one of the most prestigious art academies in China - in Chongqing, he and his wife (the artist Lu Luo, b. 1971) moved to Groningen, The Netherlands, where they both became apprentices at the Minerva Academy. After finishing his studies in 1997, Zhuang quickly received recognition as an artist. Many exhibitions followed, for instance in the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam (1999) and a solo show in 2001 in the Groninger Museum, which is a preeminent internationally renowned Dutch museum for contemporary art. After this last show, Zhuang received invitations to present his spectacular works in museums and galleries all over the world. In 2007, the Groninger Museum honored him and his wife Lu Luo with a large duo exhibition called ‘Atelier Beijing’.
The flower motif dominates Zhuang’s work. He works patiently and religiously year after year on this subject alone. In Chinese culture the flower is a significant image, which carries countless meanings and emotions. Zhuang’s ‘flowerbeds’ are crafted from delicate pieces of painted rice paper, which the artist has bent and folded into hundreds of tiny buds. Utilizing a traditional Chinese material, the works also represent traditional Chinese aesthetics: they are meditations on color, nature and form.
The canvas paintings bear the influence of Impressionism and other Western artistic practices. Zhuang’s impasto strokes are expressive and unconfined. Colors melt together, and paint drips down the canvas, seeping over a collage of delicately unfolded rice paper flowers. The almost sculptural three-dimensionality makes his work both painting and object. Messiness, variety and chance are all embraced, evidencing Zhuang’s liberation in terms of both aesthetics and technique. Like the flowerbed works, these paintings draw the viewer in, encouraging contemplation as they immerse us in a tapestry of color and form.
Zhuang’s work is built upon his native country’s well-established artistic traditions and boundaries, which he has married with the Netherlands’ encouragement of freedom of style. Embracing his present without losing his past and he is attempting to define a sense of self that exists between the two. This is the personal struggle that Zhuang enacts visually and through his artistic process, which vacillates between phases of controlled planning, emotional gesture, and careful editing. Objects of appealing beauty, mysterious and alluring - at once both foreign and familiar - are the result.
The emphasis on technique and uniformity, and the focus on the artist’s handling of material are all lessons Zhuang adopted at the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, where an academic attitude is predominant, focusing on traditional skills such as printing techniques (wood carvings and lithographies) and figure drawing after models. His work in The Netherlands is characterized by realism and figuration as well, although in a decreasing way. Typical are his ‘Head’-series; portraits, sometimes only the abstracted shape of a head, on large canvases. The rice paper flower finds his introduction towards the end of the 90’s, together with a collage-like technique. The ‘flowerfields’, where Zhuang is still famous for, are to be found in his work around 2005-2006.
Currently the artist, his wife and two children live in Capelle aan den IJssel, The Netherlands, where his large Dutch studio is located. Zhuang has exhibited in China, the U.S. and throughout Europe, including Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Poland, Switzerland and Spain. As of 2014 he has been represented by Salwa Zeidan Gallery throughout the Middle East. He has been the subject of multiple museum exhibitions and his work is held in numerous esteemed public and private collections worldwide.