Deng Xiangwei decided to commit to a career in art from an early age. His path to the profession began in high school after years of self-study. He came to Beijing to study classical oil painting during his sophomore year, and since then has seen his work appear in 15 exhibitions.

Deng’s works explore the absurd and describe dreams. His inspiration comes mostly from movies, books and deep thoughts. Night is a recurring element, favored for the spirit of mystery and uncertainty it conveys. In 2015, Deng created a series of plants in darkness, dubbed his “Night Series.”

Even now, as Deng begins to explore other themes, his affinity for the dark remains. “It imbues each work with another tone, like a void,” Deng said.

Currently, Deng is developing a new series with blurry figures and vague scenes. He calls the series “Before,” and the latest works incorporate repeating British elements, soldiers and other figures seen from behind. The objects are all pale, stale and hollow.

Deng said he chose to draw figures facing away from the viewer to create a deja-vu strangeness. “You can instantly start to imagine it is a shade of your family or friends,” Deng said.

The inspiration for the mistiness comes from an experience when Deng was photographing his friend. Somehow, the lens was miscalibrated and many of the images he shot that day were fuzzy. The strange figures caught Deng’s interest and inspired a series of blurry portraits.

“We usually recall things as a flurry of fuzzy shapes. I’m trying to mix reality and imagination in to send a message: clearer things are not always true,” Deng said.

Deng also attempted to record emptiness in his work Nothing. An obsession with Zen forms the piece’s soul. Crafted in red and brown hues with a giant slogan in the middle. It inspires deep thoughts on how to manage the past, present and future.

Let the Bullets Fly and Cradle are the two works Deng considers his best. “Let the Bullets Fly has great power while Cradle inherits the absurd,” Deng said.

Deng said he hopes his works will lead people to recall the past and explore wild drama. The most important thing he has learned from art is to fight for what he wants ¬¬– to be recognized as a professional artist.

“Making a little progress each day brings us closer to our dreams. It is unnecessary to hesitate before turning ambitions into reality,” Deng said. “It’s like my painting I Love Chasing Dream in Youth. I was the boy in the work, facing the sun and against the darkness with my dream in the distance. I feel like I’m getting stronger.”

The next goal for Deng is host his first solo exhibition. He also wants to gain experience in wood-board oil painting.

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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