Hues appear as a cloud that billows and escapes from an open space. Psychedelic colours, absurd settings, lunar landscapes, paintings overflowing with imagination. This is the world of Shang Chengxiang, whose work digs deep into the psyche of human beings, revealing the anxiety, fear and fantasy of unconsciousness.
Shang is inspired and intrigued by his dreams; his paintings are often a mixture of memories of his dreams and pondering of his reality and things that are in between. “Sometimes dreaming can be a good way to perceive subconscious. In dreams, there are always unstable vague emotions that you can’t tell for sure. And those emotions are exactly what I am looking for. I believe that some of the most important things hide in our subconscious.”
Shang Chengxiang was born and raised in Shenyang, in northeast China. He has lived there his whole life. Shenyang is famous for its heavy industry, the theme of his early works a metaphor consisting of bare machines and landscape combinations, mirroring the abandoned factories and huge machines from his time growing up in the 1980s.
His compositions have a realistic foundation in which he inserts surreal, thick coloured clouds, leaving the viewer to interpret the limit among consciousness and unconsciousness. “The inspiration from my dreams continues in the series Journey in the Clouds, which is considered as one of my successful and mature works. It wasn’t until 2015 that I started to study the subconscious on purpose. Gradually I realized that the subconscious can be an inspiration to me. Then I started to purposely seek for the connections between the subconscious and the real world,” says Shang.
Without doubt, dreams play a crucial role in Shang’s works. But the messages he wants to convey transcends into reality. “I love to set up the suspense in my work which enables people to think. When thinking, you explore your potential. I hope people can always find themselves in my work no matter what kind of painting it is.” His message here is unequivocal.
Shang Chengxiang’s technicolour, surreal worlds are a labour of love, each piece taking from six months to two years to be conceived, thought over and then actually painted. Starting with a concept the artist will look for related information, before finally painting his vision. “Of course there are also ideas that pop up in my mind, and all of a sudden I start the creation. In those circumstances, it takes about two weeks to finish the whole creative process,” he counteracts.
The artworks that Shang makes leaves his audience with an elusive and temporal feeling. “My job is to extract information from our daily life and to present it by means like painting. It appears to me that making art is the product of self-discovery. Different emotions in the creative process turn out to be the catalyst which leads my works to different results.” The beautiful creations that Shang Chengxiang inspires will always lead his audiences to a world of the unexpected.