The journey of an artist is somewhat difficult to track. The many inspirations encountered may be rather impossible to be perceived as a linear pathway, but rather as a series of roads that lead to multiple destinations. Some stray from this passionate path for fear of “not making it” or opt for a safer career choice. But time and time again, those who feel the call passion within them answer to their calling regardless. One afternoon in May, in a cosy, warm lit gallery, sat a wise and prolific artist ready to share his journey of pure devotion.
Singaporean-Chinese artist Zhu Hong has had an intricate and passionate journey with his practice while still staying consistent with what he truly loves to do. The painter from Da Lian felt, from a very young age, that he was drawn to painting buildings since he was able to see the emotion lying beneath the structure. Much like pulling a mask aside, the artist commented that “one can sometimes see through the building into its true essence.” And though his journey has progressed by painting buildings, he insists that he is not held down by this subject matter, rather that this was where it all began.
After feeling conflicted about what to pursue in the future, Zhu Hong turned to architecture as a career choice. Choosing the middle ground between what seemed logical and what spoke to his heart, he attended the Da Lian University of Technology and received his Bachelor’s in Architecture there. He continued his creative pursuits by taking up a job as an event designer in 1997 and relocated to Singapore as a result. In 2011, he quit his job and leaned entirely into his passions and calling, thus becoming a full-time artist.
The very basis of his practice lies in his love of daily scenes, wherein he finds the most immense of beauty. From bustling crowds in Chinatown to the more secluded areas devoid of human activity, these Singapore localities and structures will always be teeming with the personality through the lens of Zhu Hong. At the beginning of his path, Zhu Hong’s work relied heavily on realism and the capturing of details in his subject matters. Over time, he opted for a more abstract style which depends on lighting and colours while invoking an impression of the structure as opposed to a direct viewing experience. He has ascribed this change as an important success factor for an artist – that is to be constantly changing and evolving along with the world.
“Painting to me is much like breathing, it comes naturally. Without it, life is meaningless.”
In keeping up with the exuberance of the artist, Merlin Gallery, from 28th May to 31st July, showcased 25 of Zhu Hong’s pieces. Amidst the duration of the exhibition, an artist dialogue session was conducted along with a unique Art Jam with the Artist segment in partnership with local art education centre, Avant-Garde Art Space. Over two weekends, participants of the workshop were treated to a live demonstration by the artist himself before trying their hands, with guidance, on their own masterpieces.
With so much emotion poured into maintaining the currency of his work, Zhu Hong further believes that the only other constant is the need for luck and sheer hard work, and to know that personal desires do not come in easy. He explains that it is crucial to ensure that there will not be any regrets, especially with regards to passion and concerns of the heart. Ultimately, Zhu Hong expressed that to constantly be true to the self is to dig deep into your heart’s desire and take a plunge into its depths.