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The Alchemy of Artistry: Creative Works that Inspire Viewers

Artist Sha Ching-Hwa transforms deeply personal experiences and the cosmos’s mysteries into universal narratives on canvas

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Engaging with the art of Taiwanese artist Sha Ching-Hwa is like embarking on a whimsical journey through boundless universes. Within his creative paintings, time becomes frozen, and thoughts can wander freely.

Sha likens beginning a new artwork to setting sail on an uncharted adventure, much like the beloved fictional explorer Sinbad the Sailor, whose voyages often involve encountering mythical creatures and supernatural phenomena. Unconstrained by predetermined outcomes, Sha’s creative process thrives on variables and uncertainties. It’s within these moments—uncertain yet exhilarating—that he finds his greatest inspiration to enter those unexplored imaginative realms.

In Sha’s universe, enigmatic islands float among rainbow-draped clouds and charming cottages nestle among lush greenery. Massive boulders are adorned with countless millennium-worn cavities, each appearing as a portal to a new universe. At times, these myriad cavities undergo a mysterious metamorphosis, turning majestic mountains into a complex network of interconnected fantasy gears, evoking the indelible imprints left by the relentless march of time.

In Sha Ching-Hwa’s painting Mountain and Water, Heart’s Abode, a tranquil rural landscape, resembling both an island and a mountain, hovers in the air. The cascading waterfalls on the high mountains, the blooming flowers, and the warmly lit cottage depict the artist’s fond childhood memories of home in a dreamlike setting.

A lasting tribute

From an early age, Sha’s imagination served as his creative playground. As a child, the water stains he saw on his ceiling became a canvas for envisioning dynamic scenes, setting the stage for a lifelong exploration of art. His discovery of painting later offered him a formal medium to articulate his vivid imagination, filled with dragons and extraterrestrial beings. His fascination eventually prompted him to pursue ink-wash painting as his lifelong career.

While completing his graduate studies, Sha learned that his childhood village had been demolished. Faced with this irreversible loss and flooded with nostalgia and grief, he turned to art for a resolution. He began to explore whether he could express these complex emotions through his work. This creative process inspired Sha to craft a unique brushstroke technique, which later became his signature style for depicting lush mountains and dense foliage.

Sha’s work can be seen as a tribute to his lost homeland. Floating islands swathed in lush foliage and detailed subtropical flora offer a narrative link to the past. Elements like cerulean lakes and playful fauna further augment this idyllic aesthetic. At the centre of these islands stands a cottage; its window bears a hint of yellow, symbolizing the comforting light of home.

For those of us surrounded by concrete landscapes and skyscrapers, Sha’s work becomes a conceptual haven that offers a nurturing embrace—a quiet refuge from the chaos of modern life.

Sha himself says, “I’ve moved from painting physical landscapes to capturing the landscapes of my inner world. Here, I can freely explore and express myself. I can articulate my longing for my lost homeland, create a utopian world, and give life to my boundless imagination. It’s a peaceful, harmonious world where happiness and contentment can be found.”

An exceptional piece among Sha’s creative paintings, Time and Space Lotus Blossom features two circular halos that seem to form a connection between heaven and earth. Two colossal rocks stand suspended in the air, leaning on each other, while a pink lotus blossoms on top. The painting explores ideas about the creation of life, the flourishing of wisdom, and a celestial realm where time and space intertwine.

Stones of time

Sha is known for his unique and provocative depiction of weathered rocks, drawing inspiration from the remarkable geological formations known as “Beehive Rocks.” Sculpted by millennia of weathering and sea erosion, these naturally occurring formations have become a central muse for Sha’s artistic expressions.

Order the Magnifissance print edition to read the full story.

This story is from Magnifissance Issue 122

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Inspired for a Beautiful Life

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