ASPIRATION TO THE SUBLIME
Lecture Outline by Lampo Leong, PhD, Professor of Art

EARLY TRAINING & INFLUENCE
  • Early Childhood
        Cultural Revolution—self-study
  • BFA—Guangzhou Fine Arts Institute
        Classical European figure painting and drawing (observation-based realism)
        Chinese brush painting & calligraphy (expression of line & rhythm)
        Classical Western & Chinese philosophies (Daoism)
        Classical European & Chinese aesthetics, criticism, & literature
        Extensive travel in China to visit museums & historical sites
        Extensive travel in China to paint from mountains & rivers
  • MFA—California College of Arts & Crafts
        Modern Western abstract painting and drawing
        Modern & postmodern Western philosophies & criticism
        Extensive travel in US & Europe to visit museums & architectures

THE ARTISTIC VISION & RESPONSE
   • Abstract Vision: From Microscopic to Macroscopic World
        Human eye’s vision (standard 35mm camera lens, 50-60mm)
        Technologically enhanced vision of scale or depth
              * Wide-angle lens (28mm), fisheye lens (8mm), & microscope
              * Telephoto lens (100-500mm), & Hubble space telescope
        Artistic vision & response
              * Individual angle & judgment
  • Vision Inspired by Computer
        Most traditional art: lighting from exterior
        Computer Art: light emanates from within
              * More contrast and luminosity; more mysterious quality
              * Analogous to Daoist enlightenment
  • Image Appropriation
        Traditional methods: juxtaposition, photomontage & collage
        Computer methods: blending of images
              * Scanner: transfer images from traditional media to digital format
              * Photoshop filters: fusion of images; possibility of
                    overlay, opacity, mask, gradation, etc. …
  • Examples of Artistic Dialogues between Cultural Traditions
        Post-impressionism and the Japanese print
        American Abstract Expressionism and Chinese calligraphy

MY ASPIRATION IN THE CONTEMPLATION • FORCES SERIES
  • Spiritual Content: Expression of the Sublime
        Evidence in art history: universal aspirations to express grandeur & heroism:
              * Greek sculptures & Peter Voulkos’ ceramic
              * Anselm Kiefer’s painting & Song dynasty’s monumental landscape
              * Michelangelo & Picasso
        Daoism: reverence and wonder before Nature’s awesome majesty
        Possibility of a universal language that transcends cultures & time
  • Conceptual Theme & Subject Matter
        Fascination with the processes of creation in primordial world
        Celebration of dynamic energies that give birth to new life, planets & stars
        Revelation of the elemental forces and unseen power
        Expression of powerful emotions recollected in moments of serenity
        Expression in metaphor of invisible dramas: cosmic or spiritual crises
   • Formation of An Individual Approach
        Rhythmic cursive calligraphic strokes provide structures for paintings
        Symphonic effects achieved by intensive color layers
        Painterly quality — strokes & texture
        Combination of media that is more synthetic fusion than composite mixture
        Contrast and fusion of printed and painted surfaces
        Ambiguity of space and two dimensional quality
        Synthesis of the Eastern, Western & other aesthetic traditions

THE FORMATION OF AN ARTIST
  • Artistic Achievement: Develop Individual Value & Expression
         Independent thinking & unique viewpoint
         Connection of the artist to the world
         Dedication of the artist to art
         Optimal placement on graph below
  • X axis: Practical Foundation
         Techniques
         Develop a feel for & understanding of the media
  • Y axis: Theoretical Knowledge
         Classical & contemporary philosophies
         Art history, aesthetics, literature & criticism