2017 May | venews – The Southern Cross / Cen Long, his World of Art

The southern cross is a star that shines eternally in Cen Long’s heart. It is small, but nonetheless a bright and magical star; it brings him luck and illuminates his soul in a way that it becomes his muse and guides him on the path of art.

Cen Long’s art is the hybrid of a solemn classicism and a restrained expressionism; He often uses minority groups, fishermen, and farmers and even personified animals to project the utopia of his imagination; he hopes that his artwork can become the southern cross for people in one’s modern world of sound and fury; to betoken hope and courage and sooth the weary hearts.

Cen Long considers painting as his way to experience life and to demonstrate emotions, he has said, “The characters I paint are all people in a trial, like the vast mortals in Dante’s Purgatory that are working to cleanse their soul.” Yet, Cen Long’s paintings are not portraits of sinners that struggle to elevate from the sufferings, they are pictures of ordinary people working their normal lives. Thus, the subject ‘purgatory’ is gifted with a living quality of the present, and this religious topic becomes relatable and approachable.

‘A Calf’ depicts the interrelationship and dependence between animals and humanity. This is a mundane moment when a villager fastens the rope on the newly born calf in fear of losing it. Although her face is not seen in the paintings, one can infer the mutual dependence from her body language. This moment of the heart is elevated by its brown tone to appear noble and dignified: and this elevation is the essence of Cen Long’s artworks. Art critic Huang Zhuan once commented, ‘ He often takes the mundane and ordinary northern farmers or sailing fishermen, and the nomads of Xinjiang as his subject, and blends successfully his imaginative faculty with naturalistic portrayals; such is how he creates his many self-sustaining and symbolic ideal worlds. This is why his effort to create a personal utopia almost equals the height of religion.

‘The Lost Lamb’, on the other hand, portrays something beyond his consistent style and content; it is a metaphor for the relation between humanity and its religion. The picture shows a peasant woman guiding the playful lamb back home. It implies the holy power of god to the heart of men. The details on the light and shadows sublime the ordinary into the extraordinary, into the touching and divine.

“The Southern Cross”exhibits seven impressive artworks that convey the artist’s humanistic concern and reverence to the world and its creations; they demonstrate that true love is borderless, and when touching the heart with emotion, it presents the spiritual power paintings ought to provide.

                               Curator/ Metra Lin