Reflection of life and tradition in the transcultural context – Review of Hong Liu-Sertti´s painting by Art Critic Hu Bing

by HLS No Comments September 21, 2016

Reflection of life and tradition in the transcultural context

Review of Hong Liu-Sertti´s painting

Hu Bin

-Deputy Director of the Art Museum of the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts (GAFA), Associate Professor of the Art Management Department

With the intensified globalization artists with Chinese and international background have become a prominent phenomena in the art society. Thus we can sort out and follow a long thread. Hong Liu-Sertti is undoubtedly in this context. What I am interested is, from the observation of her, we could survey the characteristics of artists with transcultural background.

Hong Liu-Sertti graduated from the Art Education Department in GAFA where she received a comprehensive art education, which has given her a  solid foundation for her art. After moving to Finland she has got new nourishment from the art and humanities as well as the nature of the new country. Her art works in recent years mainly focus on the theme of flower, bird and landscape. Her art language is pithy and fresh, the shades of color bleeding is exquisite– very distinctive oriental artistic charm. But when observed more carefully you will notice that her stroke and color are not the traditional Chinese style of ink painting. The strokes are either lightly brushed, or sharply scratched, not of the calligraphic method. The colors demonstrate an exceptional purity with the dreamlike innocence. Additionally the stamps, the very traditional symbols of Chinese painting and calligraphy, are used in her painting composition. She does not simply follow the so-called traditional Chinese painting practice , but rather creates the oriental expression with an open mind. The different kind of materials like rice paper, canvas, pigment, mica, acrylic, foil etc make the painting colourful and luminous. Still in a general view, the deep-rooted Chinese cultural is strongly imprinted in her work. Her stamps are not of the conventional Chinese style. They are in Chinese, English or Finnish with different shapes and colors and the meaning of the words heighten the theme. These ”stamps” , dotting the painting in picturesque disorder, turn into music melody in her works. Similar to using stamps as part of style and composition, she creates in her work random light-reflecting holes, which increase the mottled dimensional depth and enriches the gradation. She herself summaries the nutrition behind her creation: mutualism of blankness and fullness of Chinese traditional painting technique and the Finnish concise, rational and straight-forward art style increase the richness of the work. The beautiful nature of Finland gives the fertile soil of the flourishment of my art. ” Yes, her creation has been benefited from this transcultural context.

Continue to follow the transcultural thinking, it is not difficult to feel the action in her painting. The pursuit of aesthetical perfection of painting is not her only target. She emphasizes on the rhythm and tempo in the process of creation . It is like the mentally controlled energy(Qi) flow and spontaneous action in the traditional Chinese calligraphy and painting, combined with the improvisation and dynamics of the western art tradition. In her work one can sense movement and stillness, conflict and harmony, freedom and limitation…her creation is like walking with dancing steps. The process demonstrates the path and the final completion.

”Love” and “Freedom” are the eternal themes of Hong Liu-Sertti’s art. There are always birds in her paintings. Some birds are brilliantly colourful and emphasised, some are just simplified like dancing symbols. From her point of view, they represent freedom and harmony with nature. The reflection of “love” can be seen from the held or stretched hands as well as the innocent child. Surely we have no need to find meaning of the symbols in such simple manner. The spirit of positivity, warmth and softness, lightness and freedom fills her work. This is a motif of universal value. Historically there are numerous excellent works under this theme, being noble, or romantic, or inspiring,or profound. As a female artist migrating between east and west, she expresses the motif with individual viewpoint from her heart, which resonates with every viewer.

Through the phenomena of Hong Liu-Sertti we realize that artists who are in the transcultural context between China and the West, are more open in breaking the bonds of old convention and in applying innovative techniques. At the same time they are more consciously returning to the traditional form and spirit. They often choose  the motif of universal value, but the path of expression is inseparable from the eastern background. This seemingly contradictory phenomena appears however in many overseas Chinese artists. Their way of cultural expression renders us another viewpoint towards the Chinese tradition, and their way of creation can not be neglected when we are looking at the world of contemporary art.