Last week in San Francisco at a great bookstore, Forest Books on 16th Street in the Mission I found a catalog from a show at the Berkeley Art Museum. What I read about Ch'en Hung-shou (1598-1652) and his paintings in Album of Flowers, Birds and Landscape speaks to work completed at my residency at the Vermont Studio Center:
"... conscious, highly sophisticated distortions of form and scale as a manifestation of stylistic virtuosity. The other leaves in the album attest to the same originality, ostensibly following very old traditions but in fact achieving ironic commentary on those traditions through calculated distortions. In these the artist singles out a subject and depicts it with extreme, almost obsessive, concentration on eccentrically refined qualities. In two leaves, for example, one representing a peony and the other a butterfly perching on a flower, delicately drawn lines spread out from the base of each flower petal and disappear at it's outer edge. These lines then continue on, but in different directions, on other petals. Within the form of each flower the delicate, refined, systematic lines flow in each assigned area. The textural movement of each area is associated with that of the neighboring areas, constituting a flat major pattern with decorative sub-patterns and building up a well adorned substantiality, a finished work, in empty space.