Art to me is something that moves me, makes me feel and dream, explore my own imagination. Art can take many different forms and shapes, mediums, be framed or painted on the side of a wall, stand tall on its own, can be listened to or watched. Art is something that was created with passion and carries a message.
So on a beautiful sunny day, strolling through narrow streets of Venice, completely unexpectedly, I came across a small gallery tucked away in the corner – The Bel Air Fine Art Gallery. Naturally curious, I walked in. To my surprise they had an amazing contemporary modern selection including some of my favorite artists like Mr. Brainwash (the French-born LA based street artist) and Damien Hirst (multi-media modern UK artist), Randy Cooper (who mastered wire mesh as his signature medium and developed ‘shadow sculpture’ technique) and of course Bansky (the anonymous UK based graffiti artist). I was genuinely stunned to see such carefully selected pieces from such trending and front running pop modern art/street artists in a small gallery in the middle of Venice.
Large and bright painting by Zhuang Hong Yi blew me away. Beautiful and rich yellow, orange, green colors, the incredible 3D canvas took me away to Hudson New York during the foliage season. Warm, open, it was simply incredible. I have never before seen painted rice paper on canvas. It looks remarkable, giving an effect of coral texture. The other works by Zhuang are also different from what I have seen and worthy of noting. Zhuang applies a very unique technique and application of colored rolled rice paper leafs onto a canvas, which is very impressive and fascinating. His works move and breathe, and illuminate life.
After observing my admiration for these pieces, one of the curators who later educated me on the artist and his work, took me into her office to show me his smaller creation. It was much smaller in size but just as impactful. The craftsmanship and beauty of this piece inspired and haunted me for hours, unable to sustain the temptation and separation, the next day I was a proud owner of it, and it continues to enthuse everyday.
Zhuang’s 004 (above) 3-dimensional painting in mixed media makes me feel warm and relaxed, as if I am on vacation. The blue colored backdrop with bright petals-like pieces almost make you smell the flowers and sea salt of the Caribbean air. This incredible canvas represents to me the refreshing water and breeze of an ocean. And bright colors of exotic flowers under the sun! And the crashing waves at your feet. It is family, beach and peace of mind. I love how every time I look at it, it takes me to a different island: from Puerto Rico to Barbados, then off to Jamaica and back to Bahamas, or maybe it's Bermuda … the Contemporary style leaves one with freedom to imagine and see new things from different angles.
Zhuang Hong Yi was born in Sichuan, China in 1962. He is best described as a Chinese, contemporary artist with unique and innovative style. His work includes paintings with ink, mixed traditional Chinese materials like acrylic, oil paint and rice paper. Zhuang's paintings are very often characterized by a daring and surprising mix of bright colors, and some are considered 3-dimensional. Zhuang has been creating beautiful art for the past 21 years and has impressed audiences all over the World.
But let’s go back a minute and let me tell you what drew my attention and made me walk into the gallery to begin with, it was not Zhuang’s work but the daring and flirty Dancing Noun by Cecile Plaisance, another discovery I would like to share with you.
This French photographer captures beautiful photographs of Barbies in various characters and scenes, then applies a technique of lenticular developing that gives effect of a changing image when in front of the photo to deliver a message. Everyone with a good sense of humor, appreciation to art and craftsmanship of a very well taken photograph will love her work. I sure do. Reasonably priced and soon to be exhibited in New York, Cecile will be an overnight sensation. Clever and fun, yet sophisticated, Cecile’s images are charming. With some wit, Cecile delivers a message to both men and women that is above all cultural or religious differences, but that women desire and live multi-faced lives abundantly with passion.