In the first paintings in the series “The Realm of the Heart” by Zhu Yiyong, a puffy, omnipresent cloud ironically seems to bear a great weight. It hovers over polluted cityscapes and their vacant subjects—and, in a slight trompe l’oeil effect, the picture plane itself—almost as a witness. By “No. 18” in the series, the cloud is embedded deep in the composition behind a boy, both of them subdued by the layer of smog in the atmosphere. The characteristic haze that mediates Zhu’s paintings is created by applying thin layers of pigment to the finished composition, a prolonged process that mirrors the accumulative effects of pollution itself. His motivation for this series stems from firsthand experience with the deleterious effects of what he calls China’s greatest “social problem”; he reportedly still suffers from migraines and sinus infections in the wake of exposure to toxic fumes during a visit to a rubbish facility in the outskirts of Chongqing. Pollution, he seems to suggest, will be a future symbol of collective Chinese history. The pure cloud of water vapor, however, may be a beacon of hope.
About Zhu Yiyong
Chinese, b. 1957, Chongqing, Sichuan Province, China, based in Chongqing, Sichuan, China