How and Why?

Liang Quan, born in 1948, paints with torn strips of rice paper stained with tea or ink, creating pale empty collaged spaces, filled with detail.  His materials clearly reflect his Chinese origins, his Zen Buddhism is evident in the calmness of his work and the meditative nature of his process.  His work is the embodiment of who he is and where he comes from.

‘tranquil sea’ ink and rice paper collaged on linen, 125 × 95 cm, 2010

Born in Korea in 1961, trained in Australia, lectured and practicing in America, Hyunmee Lee explores her cultural journey through her work, seeking to understand who she is.  Influenced by  Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism, her meditative practice of repetition, and contemplative gestural mark making, fuse her East/West influences, a balance between spontaneity and restraint.

Bill Lowe Gallery:


Her process includes several hundred preparatory drawings before beginning a series of work.  She painted with yellow for three years, before moving to blue.

There is an excellent video called Gesture & Flow by Shawn Rossiter on YouTube.

At the other end of the spectrum is New York based American Jose Parla, born in 1973, whose work at the World Trade Centre is the result of a journey that started as a graffiti artist.


From graffiti to gallery and back to outside space, his journey has always been about walls, the passing of time, the layers of history, of memories, of mark making.  Colour and the written word are fundamental to his work, which is meditative and gestural, recreating reality in art.  Mark making is full bodied, energetic and includes jumping off ladders with a loaded brush to create bold, gestural sweeps.

Youtube In the Studio with Jose Parla gives a real insight into the philosophy that drives his work and his process.

Three very different artists each working in a meditative way, spiritual way.  Lee and Parla employ bold gestural, almost calligraphic marks, in response to inner emotions (Lee) and to replicate history and memories (Parla), whilst Quan’s delicate marks also reflect his inner being.  Each clearly reflecting their cultural journey in their work.

What attracts me specifically to their work?  Colour?  Mark making?  Meditative quality?  Calmness?  Order in chaos?  Focus?

They appear to be speaking to me, reflecting aspects of my work that may or may not already exist.  They are challenging me to look and work more deeply, to be honest and authentic.

So what of my cultural journey?  Limited to the South of England, and whilst I have lived through extensive western cultural change, I have never been at the centre of that change, always an outsider.

An interesting word, particularly in the context of art!  Is that really where I feel I sit now?  My work lacks cohesion.  Is that my definition of outsider?  Someone called it random, and I can understand that.

I keep returning to Lee’s immersion process, to Hashiro Kanno’s tea ceremony, to releasing the spirituality within.

Will I have enough time?  This a slow process, there are no short cuts.

Author: susanmilleruk

Watercolour painter living, working and loving Hastings and St Leonards on Sea. MA in Fine Art.

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