The third natur/Daily pattern-solo exhibition by Hao-Kang KENG

Date /2017/9/9 ~ 2017/10/8
Reception /2017/9/9 PM3:00-5:00
Artist /Hao-Kang KENG

Of the abstract painters in the new generation, Keng Hao-Kang, born in a family of artists, is one of the best who combines the rational constructivism of his father and the lyric style of his mother. When Keng studied abroad in Italy between the late 1990s and the early 2000s, he had gradually revealed his personal unique taste of art creation whose works show strong and young colors of the new generation to express the curiosity towards the world to explore, absorb, reflect, and collage.

Born in 1969, Keng grew up with robot police toys and video games. After he graduated from the department of fine arts in Tunghai University, he left for Milan, an ancient and fashionable city in Europe, and studied in the Art Academy of Brera with is major in painting and installation art. His thesis advisor, Prof. Diego Esposito, is an avant-garde artist, who taught him to observe, understand, explore and record the historical city through his mind because Milan used to be the origin place of the European Renaissance and also the place where Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo lived and created the master pieces.

However, compared to the ancient history of the city, the deployment of store windows, various colorful products, geometric patterns and textures of ancient mosaic walls, and the arrangement pattern of paving stones were more attractive to him. And these visual elements have naturally blended into his art pieces, forming a part of the paintings.

In traditional western landscape paintings, the rolling hills used to the theme for the painting artists in low-lying countries such as the Netherlands, and this is also the reason why the landscape paintings are named as “landscape.” Then, with the rise of impressionism and citizen class, the urban landscape forming in the beginning of the industrial society had become the new topic concerned by the artists. Therefore, the Mother Nature is called “the First Nature,” and the urban landscape is called “the Second Nature.”

When the industrial civilization became mature, the man-made objects, products, printings, digital images…etc. have replaced the streets and buildings of urban landscape, forming “the Third Nature.”

Furthermore, for the new generation like Keng who played robot police toys and video games in their childhood, “the Third Nature” is obviously a closed, familiar, interactive and integrated theme in their lives.

In the beginning, Keng neither fully grasped nor concluded the ways to absorb and use the visual aesthetics of the Third Nature, nor he expressed the entire emotions. It is rather to describe him as a troubadour who presented colors, formats and words with open, flowing and enjoyable minds of their own warmth and personality on the paintings. When he first arrived in Milan during 1998-2000, he made some colorful ink paintings that used simple strokes to capture the ideas or images emerged suddenly, or some repetitive parallel lines, overlapping symbols and strokes, and outlines of human figures… These early manuscripts were served as reference for his creation in a later date but also recorded his ideas; moreover, these also revealed his thinking trace and focus in his early creation stage.

We can see his efforts on his acrylic paintings, where he overlapped colors to create imprinted texture of color lumps. He also painted light bright color on the lower layer, where actually covered multiple layers of dark colors. This articulating-paper effect not only increases the texture of the paintings, but also presents the layers and echo of history and memories.

In addition, colors also bear the mission to express warmth. As in some of his art pieces, such as “Tropical” (2014) and “24 Degrees,” we can see his sensitivity and management on the environment. Of which, sometimes you see the ancient mosaic patters of buildings, colorful square glass windows, and even cartoon figures like Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, Sponge Bob, Superman, and Bat Man, while there are animal furs like zebras and leopards appeared in the geometric patterns in his art pieces in 2013 to fully reflect the nature of an enthusiastic artist who cares a lot of everything.

Obviously, Keng is inspired by various topics from both cities such as walls, shop windows, sign-boards, and paving stones and living objects such as envelopes and papers. Some of the named pieces like “Joyce” (2012-2015), “Stairs” (2014), “Camouflage” (2014) also showed the fragment that the artist’s life.

To be a successful artist, the key is to arrange and deploy these things and objects in a limited frame to present certain meanings or aesthetics, instead of the sentiment and capture of the external world. It is very obvious that the success of Keng is that he detaches the independent fragments and terms from his language context and collages and combines with another context to form new meanings and contexts, creating a space for audience’s viewing and understanding and even different interpretation. This kind of method is very similar to the construction of installation art.

The art piece “Navigation” in 2015 is a new beginning which is very different from the self-explanatory or symbolic half-image construction. The painting is comprised of completely horizontal and vertical images with the two-thirds of the left half painting by lower brightness including pink, greyish yellow, black, blue, blackish green, and purplish blue and with one-third of the right half separating by smaller parallel cutting and some high brightness blocks near the middle including pure white, grey, and citrus red (especially setting by one purplish blue in the middle and a big black block on the left side), serving as the visual focus of the full frame painting. The “Navigation” effect is like a spot light that navigates boats on the black sea.

Since “Navigation,” he further created a series of art pieces named “Moving Forward” in 2016. Although the size of “Moving Forward” is comparatively small compared to “Navigation” (2015), the parallel and slop splits of dark color blocks bring people elegant and introverted feelings.

Through the changes in parallel and slope construction, he developed another series of “Abstract 1,” “Abstract 2,” “Dynamics 1,” “Dynamics 2,” “Dynamics 3,” “Dynamics 4,” “Tangled 1,” “Tangled 2,” “Anchoring,” “Working Day 1,” “Working Day 2,” and “Stairs.” By parallel and slope intertwining, the changes in color field size with different color hue, the genius comparison between colors and achromatic colors produce various visual and spiritual feelings. Of which, the series of “Dynamics” have a strong comparison in brightness with the space sense created by linear and plane slope changes, leaving strong impression for the viewers on the pink lines.

The curved spatial changes constructed in “Dynamics 4” and “Stairs” in 2016 are served as the trailer for the development in 2017, including “Growth,” “The World in the Eyes 1,” “The World in the Eyes 2” and “Reaching the Summit.” These art pieces show a new appearance of the artist and they are also the most mature development of the geometric construction of parallel and slope development as seen from the comparatively complicated changes in color fields and short color lines.

The most challenging geometric challenge is to maintain the thinking characteristics of art creation without trapping by pure designing. The new series by Keng have expressed his ability to manage colors and spatial depth perception. The crossing parallel lines and regular slope changes is the most expressive presentation of buildings under the sun shining; however, the color painted by the artist gave the art pieces more musical and spatial senses.

We can also observed the calligraphy lines that the artist intentionally added into the art pieces from 2015 to 2017, including “Peach Blossoms” (2015), “Lemon Tree” (2015), “Coastline” (2015), “Sunbathing” (2015), “It is Cloud 1” (2016), “It is Cloud 2” (2016), and “Working Day 2.” These art pieces are another possible trial for the artist under his chief focus on parallel and slope.

As the abstract artist of the new generation, Keng uses his strong creativity and diligence to prove his existence and efforts to the art field, which is worthy of recognition and expectation.


Hsiao Chong-Ray, Taiwanese art historical scholar
Professor of the Department of History, NCKU