Hua Nian Art Studio


















Hua Nian
Spirit Houses
26" x 30"
acrylic on canvas

Enter Gallery of Spirit Houses




Making paintings of houses is not new for me. I learned with watercolor, during my youth in China. But coming to study art in America, not long after I discovered abstraction, I suddenly found myself painting houses on fire, over and over. These burning scenes of destruction profoundly disturbed me. Then in my further work the buildings totally fell apart. They were unrecognizable: only overlapping black lines suggested part of a structure. Although I didn’t understand what was happening to me at the time, I was terrified by the clash of East and West, tradition and freedom. The tumultuous, onrushing world overwhelmed me.

Since then, the birth of my children and having a loving family have shifted my view of life. Restless feelings of fear, anxiety and sorrow toward the ongoing nature of life, have given way to gratefulness and joy. Although we are constantly caught up in life’s motion, I deeply appreciate the moments of tranquillity we create between us in this river of life. The appearance now of these Spirit Houses is not an accident. They are houses rebuilt from the burnt ruins, memorials of self, milestones of a spiritual journey.

Although these houses are different than before, one pattern emerges from my earlier work: I instinctively avoid the sophisticated and artificial. These buildings are not made by modern techniques, but by humans living in nature, using primitive tools, building with their bare hands. This drive—the need to survive and to create—is full of power and spontaneity and has nothing to do with civilization. It is buried deeply within the human soul—mysterious and stubborn, manifesting itself over the generations. In this technological age I find myself always returning to primitive art, especially cave art and Stonehenge, seeking inspiration. Using the paintbrush as a chisel, imitating their eagerness, overcoming imperfections, I commune with those ancient builders and sense this raw and intimate creative power on the canvas.

The relics that are these houses are symbols of the ongoing human tragedy, lonely and decaying. But the bones that remain standing represent the eternal creative power. These houses are not dead: they are still alive with spirits, silently manifesting their dignity, breathing with the Universe.

- Hua Nian



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