Some painters choose to paint because they love it. The 24-year-old artist Hao Shuaiqi paints because he has to. Hao has relied on painting to escape loneliness since the age of two. His paintings depict a surreal universe.

“I have to act differently on different occasions. But it’s all me. It’s like there are many versions of myself that coexist in one space. We cannot reach each other, but somehow art unites us,” Hao says.

Hao graduated from Studio 8 under the School of Design at China Central Academy of Fine Arts. He entered school to study design, but the atmosphere of Studio 8 gave him another option to pursue his dreams. The school confirmed his love of art and its teachers helped him hone his ability to express his innwer world.

Looking back on his work, Hao says it took many family members, friends and professors to make his pursuits possible. Those closest to him can decode the hidden messages in his surreal act.

Influenced heavily by Spanish artist Salvador Dali, Hao said the elements in his drawings are completely the product of his intuition.

“I saw several Dali exhibitions when I traveled to Europe. I liked his works so much that I visited the exhibitions again and again. His art resonates with me in a very delicate way,” Hao says.

He is attracted to art concepts like Dali’s maximized thoughts and radiation rays, which see echoes in Hao’s own painting The Cage of Art. The picture shows a red-haired stone statue standing in stillness, a symbol of beauty amid desperation.

Apart from scraping fleeting mental images together, Hao also loves to communicate via analogy. In Metaphor, the artist creates two figures that resemble Professor Calculus, a character from the Tintin comics. One represents himself and the other is the original figure. Hao said the painting was inspired by the craziness and focus of original character.

Most of his ideas begin as crazy notions scratched out on a small pad while he travels about the city. A few come from more painful experiences that leave him with a deep impression.

“When I painted Insomnia, I was having a serious bout of OCD that kept me awake whole night. I didn’t have insomnia, but somehow I still couldn’t sleep. Eventually I started becoming sensitive to sounds, and everything started to grate on my ears,” Hao said. “When I finished the painting, my OCD went away.”

Hao said he expects that one day he will run out of inspiration and stop painting. But that’s not because he’s an independent artist who only paints for himself. Hao sees himself as a sort of recorder of a message that may not persist forever.

“Sometimes I feel that I am only a container. Thoughts came in and have a chemical reaction in my head, and then I’m inspired to turn them into reality. My best work is always my next,” Hao said.


Karena Hu

About Karena Hu

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Karena was born with the English name Karen but decided to add an “a.” She dreamed of a career in astronomy, but bad scores in physics kept her out of the science department. She seeks other worlds in reading and writing and is a super fan of the Hunger Games trilogy.

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