Strokes of Serenity: An Artist’s Exploration
Follow artist Yang Yi Syuan on his profound journey
No people are within sight in the empty mountains;
Only the echoes of voices can be heard.
Evening sunlight reenters the deep forest
And shines again upon the green moss.
The sublime words of Wang Wei, one of the most respected poets of the Tang Dynasty, come to mind when perusing the incredible details of Taiwanese painter Yang Yi Syuan’s artwork. Yang’s realistic landscape paintings of majestic mountains, lush forests, and serene landscapes in particular, evoke the stunning imagery described in Wang’s poem, The Deer Fence.
Yang’s pieces demonstrate virtuoso technique and artistry, but they are also deeply profound and personal. Every stroke represents a story and a memory, and all the raw emotions that came with them. The artist’s work has become a metaphor for the journey of finding himself and of revisiting his most joyous and painful memories and the sceneries that served as their backdrops.
Most of Yang’s paintings are in black and white. The artist believes that in the absence of colour the relationship between what is present and what isn’t is ever more apparent. His paintings invite viewers into a sense of tranquillity, allowing them to forget about the passage of time. According to Yang, this is a temporary escape, a moment of Zen, from the often chaotic world.
His artistic approach is a combination of Western oil techniques and the inner spirit of Chinese ink-wash painting. While Yang’s medium of choice adheres to Western oil painting, his composition style follows that of the esteemed painters from the Northern Song Dynasty. It suffices to say that it took a great deal of patience, energy, and devotion for him to achieve the distinct and delicate details we find in his brushstrokes.
Drawing inspiration from his recollections of forests, he meticulously paints each tree and leaf to form rich mountain mists, gradually revealing small paths and houses. Despite their seemingly spontaneous appearance, Yang’s images are intricately and methodically arranged.
He applies the art of liubai—a valued traditional Chinese technique that uses white space to create an imaginative atmosphere. The misty white clouds in his paintings, for instance, symbolize the breath of mountains and trees, injecting the flowing vitality of life into the compositions.
The romantic and tranquil landscapes typically found in Western Renaissance paintings are also present in Yang’s works, which, while startlingly realistic, are also very clearly the products of the artist’s idealized creations.
Yang sees painting as a sacred undertaking. He sits in meditation until he reaches his optimal mental state, and only then does he begin to paint. It’s this combination of spirituality and discipline that has allowed him to refine his brushwork day after day, stroke by stroke.
While his paintings embody the essence of the Chinese philosophy of becoming one with nature, they also authentically capture the artist’s emotional state. As such, Yang’s work not only radiates a spiritual energy that captivates viewers and immerses them in the depicted environment, but it also represents the artist’s profoundly spiritual journey through the pursuit of true art.