Chung-Ping Cheng Abstraction #8


Abstraction #8 Peony, Photography, ( Chromogenic Darkroom print ), 43″x30″


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Abstraction #8 Peony, Photography, ( Chromogenic Darkroom print ), 43″x30″


My photographic work continues my longstanding interest in the natural world of flowers, plants and trees as a metaphor for the life cycle. Specifically, Peonies and Lotuses are captured as they bloom and eventually wither and die, amplifying the inevitable process of growth and change. I focus on these specific iconic flowers because they have special meaning in the Chinese culture. Peonies have come to symbolize wealth, prosperity, the rebirth of relationships as well as female beauty and reproduction; while the Lotus symbolizes purity, enlightenment, rebirth and resurrection, since it roots in muddy water from which it rises.

I use color film, a medium format camera and develop my large-scale images myself in the darkroom, which enables me to manipulate the color and to experiment. I relish the mysteries of the developing photograph while embracing and using elements of chance that may appear. 

My most recent series encapsulates my process oriented experimental photography. “Refining Fire/Undescribed Variations” is large -scale and has intense, highly saturated colors such as a golden yellow, fiery magenta and a deep, rich Prussian blue. In this body of work, there are mirror image diptychs with the negative and the positive image of the same shot next to each other. Also included are single images of the same composition – almost serial imagery like Monet’s haystacks. The color sensation intentionally overwhelms the specific imagery of the plant and/or flower, rendering the photographs almost completely abstract. Compositionally, the flowers – like in Georgia O’Keefe’s flower painting – are enlarged to take over the whole surface and thus become more powerful, bold and less traditional, still beautiful but no longer fragile or delicate.

I express my inner self through photography, all my trials and tribulations, the cycle of emotions and experiences that I have as an outsider. That is why I am drawn to both the unusual photographs of Diane Arbus and the paintings of Georgia O’Keefe, who are both strong, independent women.


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