The spirit of art
This story was featured in the April 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Order the Southwest Art April 2013 print issue, or get the Southwest Art April 2013 digital download now…Or better yet, just subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
Paul Cheng believes that great art should reflect a certain passion and not just deliver strong technical skills. Components such as lighting, composition, and values are the form, but don’t reflect the spirit, of art. As Cheng puts it, they are merely the vehicle, not the final destination. “More importantly, artists must convey their personal passions, feelings, thoughts, and what they want to tell the viewer,” Cheng says.
Cheng was born and grew up in Guangzhou, China, and studied at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, where he received his degree in fine arts before leaving for positions in the entertainment industries in Australia and the United States. Today he makes his home in Southern California and splits his time between his position as a visual development artist in the film industry and his fine-art career, which is flourishing. Last year Cheng was invited to show his work in the Oil Painters of America’s National Juried Exhibition and its Western Regional Juried Exhibition, both of which were held in the Denver area. In 2011 he was honored with two top awards in OPA’s online exhibitions.
Although he paints in all genres, Cheng favors figurative work characterized by a bold sense of color and a loose style, which he sometimes accomplishes with a palette knife. “Since the beginning, I’ve had an unending fascination with figurative work and the ability to bend it to one’s own vision, and in turn, one’s own interpretation,” he says.
His subject matter includes cowboys, Native Americans, and a subject closer to his adopted home—surfers. “The beach isn’t far from my home, so many of my paintings find their subjects at the beach,” Cheng says. “I love the movement of people, ocean, and waves there, and all under that big, gleaming sun. Surfers display such intense movement and tenacity. To capture such characteristics on a canvas is engaging and fun.” When asked about his proudest accomplishment, Cheng replies, “that more and more people enjoy my art.” —Bonnie Gangelhoff
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