10 Minutes With…Renowned Chinese Landscape Painter Hong Ling

Hong One Of China’s Most Revered Contemporary Landscape Painters

Hong Ling (Image: Alessa Beatriz)

On show through November 9 at Soka Art at Asia House in London, “Hong Ling: Contemporary Chinese Landscape” showcases the work of Hong Ling (洪凌), a painter who has dedicated over three decades to the arts. Based in the secluded and magnificent Yellow Mountain in southern China, Hong captures traditional Chinese landscapes throughout the seasons. His first London exhibition presents a selection of contemporary art that fuses the atmosphere of the East with Western oil painting techniques on canvas.

Recently, Asia House and Soka Art invited Alessa Beatriz to view Hong Ling’s first exhibition in Europe, and interview the man himself, in London for Jing Daily.

Jing Daily (JD): Congratulations and welcome to the UK. How does it feel to be representing your work here and in Europe for the first time?

Hong Ling (HL): Incredible. I almost made it here ten years ago but had to cancel at the last minute. But this time I made it and brought my work with me. The UK is perfect to showcase my work, [which is] a fusion of two distinctive styles, the Western oil painting medium and traditional Chinese landscapes.

Hong Ling

JD: Why is it so important to combine the styles? Why not keep them separate?

HL: Oil painting craftsmanship is a new technique in China that’s only been around for the past 100 or 200 years. As an artist it’s important to challenge yourself and learn these new techniques. I think of it like being a musician who learns an instrument, takes the violin and then masters all of Chopin’s work, but then people want to hear music they can relate to and enjoy.

JD: Combining the two, is this a creative outlet or a business platform? Does it just make business sense to fuse the two?

HL: Nothing to do with business, it’s a purely creative creation. (Pauses) As a modern person you want to keep up to date with new techniques, especially with the Internet and facing the world with international access. But I see my own culture has evolved, accessing the two together. I reflect a lot on what happened in the past, history, reflecting on the two traditions. Traditional Chinese art and the Western oil painting medium has led me to this exhibition. The creative outlet is a pure spiritual and psychological process that satisfies me in every aspect.

I have nothing against the commercial process. Artists team with galleries to deal with the financial and business aspects of art, then I can focus on producing high-quality work.

JD: Talk to us about the inspiration behind the work, from concept to piece.

HL: It’s a complicated process, but I’ve been painting for 30 years. You can’t just use the technique without understanding the history, the standards, the knowledge of how people judge the work, why people use the technique and so on. Landscape in China is not just a portrait of scenery in front of you, it’s about the history and philosophy behind it, representing the image on the canvas.

The reason I moved to Yellow Mountain is because I wanted to completely immerse myself in the world and its environment. The four seasons we observe have dramatic distinct changes, but since [moving to] Yellow Mountain what truly captured me and inspired me were the subtle changes, the fleeting moments that define the change of seasons.

Hong Ling

JD: My favorite piece is “Snow Winter” — give us some background on that piece.

HL: It is so strange that is your favorite piece. That is interesting — most of the work presented in the gallery was created very recently, in the past year or so. But the piece you singled out as your favorite is actually something I painted 20 years ago in 1991. It was a statement piece. That artwork represented the time I changed my style completely, got a solid foundation for oil painting and ability to compose work.

Snow Winter is almost like a person who is full of emotion, who is ready to explode, but you haven’t found the right way to express yourself. So technically, it can be improved, but it’s so full of emotion, all the excitement is included in that piece. My later work is more natural and technical, how I feel and how nature changes ever so delicately, the recent artwork fully represents that.

JD: Final question: how do you juggle your life with such artistic passion? Most artists have to sacrifice an area of their life.

HL: You can view things in that way, but one of the reasons I moved my studio and chose to live in Yellow Mountain is to have a pure sense of inspiration and understanding as a painter. Then I decided to teach at the Academy of Fine Art in Beijing, so during certain terms I travel to the city.

As an educator you are still connected to art, and it’s an organic natural flow of the love of passion I have. The geographical separation means when I go to the city to teach and be an educator, I have a sense of a normal life, and I am able to leave all the ideas to create later on in my studio when I return. I enjoy this alternative life.

Hong Ling (Image: Alessa Beatriz)

Hong Ling (Image: Alessa Beatriz)

Hong Ling (Image: Alessa Beatriz)

Hong Ling (Image: Alessa Beatriz)

Hong Ling (Image: Alessa Beatriz)

Hong Ling (Image: Alessa Beatriz)

Alexa Beatriz is a London-based Economics graduate and independent journalist from Spain. In addition to being the UK correspondent for AnyWearStyle.com, Beatriz is the blogger behind www.thebeatrizpotter.com.


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