How Chung-Chuan Cheng Turned Her Life Into Art

Powen Gallery
Sep 14, 2018 10:49AM

Born in 1931 and is one of the first generation of post-war female Taiwanese artists, after participating in her first art exhibition with The Fifth Moon Group, which is a group of contemporary artists who were at the forefront of the modern art movement founded in 1957, Cheng moved to Tokyo and lived there for over 30 years; however, she was restricted to painting by her husband during that period and it was not until 1989 that she returned to Taiwan and picked up her paintbrush again, tended to devote the rest of her life to art.

"Unceasing Abundance" is the artist’s eighth show with Powen Gallery. At the age of 87, she still faces everything around her with a broad vision and focuses on mind over matter; we speak to Cheng to find out more about her inspiration, optimism, life journey and the often surprising twists and turns of her creative process.  

© Chung-Chuan Cheng and Imposing, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Powen Gallery, Taipei.

1/ The concept of Dr. Joseph Murphy (1898-1981) helped you get through hard times when you couldn't paint. Can you tell us more about it?

"Just follow your heart, and keep going forward," I read many philosophy books during the years I was in Japan. Eventually, "The Power of Your Subconscious Mind" by Joseph Murphy produced a strong effect on me. I started to believe that the faith in heart leads people to the desired future and by listening to the sound in your mind, you can transform your positive thinking into a powerful energy that can change one's fate and even influence people around us.

Until today when I paint, thoughts are still the most important for me; if the heart is empty, the colors are only meaningless strokes. As Murphy once said: "The picture in one's heart is worth a thousand words. As you sow in your subconscious mind, so shall you reap in your body and environment." Only when the soul is rich, can one sway out their own spiritual images with the paintbrush.

2/ There are often strong feelings and layers of emotional depth in your work, can you tell us about how your beliefs influence your work?

My art does not have a clear image. I embody a stronger momentum with accumulated emotions swaying on the canvas, either by dropping or throwing paint, causing a visual dynamic spread and upward curved strokes that seem to be climbing. People may feel a steady stream of vitality, and under the bold colors, I tend to reveal the soft thoughts of women by using swirls that never disappear in my paintings.

I think my art passions are close to the lyrics of a Taiwanese folk song, "If I open the door of mind, I can see my sweet hometown; if open the window of mind, I can see my young memories..."

3/ Can you tell us more about the idea behind your recent works?

My recent works explore the "inner landscape" by means of Western abstract automatism techniques and with the spirit of Eastern splashing skills in order to convey the power of nature as vividly as possible.

The infinite deep universe, the correlation of Yin and Yang, vitality of the earth and enthusiasm of blooming flowers are all themes of my focus. I try to echo all things to my own understanding of the philosophy of life, going beyond the mortal system and out of secular values. Life is small and short, and with a wider heart, I tend to provide the world with a stronger sense of visionary imagination.

4/ What do you want people to think when they see your artworks?

I value the meaning of life after experiencing ups and downs in my life. I try to share my inspiration of life and bring the positive energy to the public, through the interaction with the paintings, I hope viewers can feel my cares and enthusiasm in my arts and dreams. However, viewers are free to think what they want. No matter what they interpret it, it’s okay. I just do my best.

Powen Gallery