Artist Talk - Everything Changes

W.H. Chong
Daruma. 2018
Acrylic and conte on paper
21 cm x 29.7 cm 

Free Artist Talk with W.H.Chong
Join W.H. Chong for a walk and talk of his new exhibtion Everything Changes.

3 - 4pm Saturday June 2 2018
Lone Goat Gallery

The old sages didn’t fool around. Here is a triplet of Buddhist sayings, simple truths with a killer punchline.
1) Everything changes.
2) Anything can happen at any time.
3) No one is exempt.

Shakespeare had Richard II confess: ‘I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.’ David Bowie proposed: ‘Time may change me / But I can’t trace time.’ His title struck the note: ‘Changes’. These ideas of change and inevitability underwrite this exhibition.

We can all draw creatively from ancient roots if we wish: whether farming or writing a song or cooking a meal. Old traditions can be transformed — are always being transformed — and itself be the transformative idea, triggering new iterations.

In these works from several ongoing series I drew from the deep well of Chinese art traditions. Useful concepts: the understanding of art’s intangible qualities — its “spirit” — codified 1500 years ago as the most important part of art. The ancient abstractions of Chinese calligraphy, and the deployment of the void as integral to the image. Mark making that speaks of distinctive individuals.

The themes here are change, exile and perhaps, freedom. Change can be seen in the way words (Chinese characters, English script) are transformed into near illegible marks to become abstract expressions, a different kind of sign with only subjective readings. How ink landscapes become groupings of bright coloured shapes. The way digital technology can marry with analogue processes to create a contemporary Chinese scroll. Exile is the great theme of the last hundred and some years and enough has been said about it. I mention exile only because it is undeniable.

The idea of freedom is more subtle. Bold gestural mark making may suggest freedom — the manifestation of a body and mind unfettered. Another freedom is achieved when we discover the art that comes of personal necessity. When we grasp what we need to make we are released from convention, from fashion, from dogma, from self-consciousness. Then we are free to make the marks drawn from the deep well within.

Melbourne 2018
About W.H. Chong
W. H. Chong is an artist and a book designer. He is one of Australia’s foremost cover designers, winner of multiple awards, and is an inductee in the Book Designers Hall of Fame.

He is well known for his portrait drawings of writers and artists — his near life-size portrait of novelist Michelle de Kretser is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra. The Green Room in the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne is hung with his drawings of visiting authors.

His art is often seen on books, gracing over 100 covers of Australian literature in the Text Classics series.

He has written art reviews and columns on culture for Crikey and Daily Review. He resides in Melbourne.