Raw, Red and Ratchet: Liu Zhen Yong and the Deconstruction of Mankind

Written by Rei Yukon | Posted 27 May 2019

Alongside striking visuals, Zheng Yong’s technique betrays his age, in a mastery of deconstructive composition and abstract painting. Instilling expressions into both colour and strokes, the palpable meaning in his works communicates far beyond the façade of poised perfection, unraveling the quagmire that resides within every living, breathing being—the source from where all light must emerge. His works are the equilibrium between polarities, amalgamations of happiness, sadness, life, death, confusion and enlightenment.

With anatomy being the core basis of his creative process, Zheng Yong reveals an expressionist fascination with explorative methods of outpouring emotion onto a canvas. With a strong hand and a brush saturated with oil paint, the artist works to channel the energy of the human spirit he perceives in his subjects, using powerful, almost truncated and rustic strokes to create riveting, abstract images supposedly reminiscent of the very core of our human ‘souls’

These images are the artist’s rendition of the true physical manifestations of our humanity, featuring raw, almost fleshy shades of red, the evocative images of his subjects lie starkly against vacant backgrounds, showcasing them in an inescapable display of life in all its vigour.

Liu focuses on portraiture, with a majority of his work sculptured torsos or busts. They possess a wide range of emotions, from frustration to passion to grief to ecstasy. Sometimes Liu’s subjects are solemn and still, but their featureless faces instead of drawing a blank, reveal a deep, brooding solitude amongst messy highlights and dark shadows.

The blurry contours of the bodies and faces emulate a calm strength and maturity, despite the seemingly haphazard stylization, one that allows others to intensely feel the expressions of the subjects. To obtain sufficient tangible depth of substance, he piously places his inking materials in layers onto of the already wet canvas for his paper works, or works aggressively on a vertical canvas with his oil and impasto works

Liu focuses on breaking us down in his work, until we are but blurs of strokes and colour. His desire lies in unraveling the very core of our humanity and pouring out into a tangible body of work, one that stands to fascinate and invoke brief moments of self-reflection in the audience. In a way, Liu’s abstracted bodies and twisted images of the human form may perhaps be more human that any of us in the artist’s school of thought, as they represent the artist’s truth in the depiction of the deepest, most convoluted inner workings of the human mind and soul.