I'm perenially surprised at how so little inspires me at these fests. So much of it seems not worth a first glance let alone a second which I attribute in good part to my being, primarily, into music and books and not art. Most pieces seem cloying, either in their Rockwellesque earnestness or post-modern self-consciousness or meaningless strangeness. But every once in awhile I find a jewel, a little tent holding filling paintings, such as I did today with the work of John Cheng.
Cheng, from a marketing standpoint, seems at a loss. He looks down, is always fiddling, has no website, posts no bills listing his resume or awards. He's quite unlike the other artists who stand or sit with eyes boring, unaware of the laser impact of an artists' eyes on the public: Don't they know I know they can see right through me! I think to myself.
Instead Cheng seemed a quiet, humble sort with mixed media offerings of carp and birds and Japanese women and mermaids, sometimes depicting nakedness but with a purity that is a subject of interest to me. I seek to disarm the flesh with a pure flesh, as in the way an inoculation works. Always I think, when I see a Bouguereau or a Cheng depicting female nudity and innocence that here, at last, is the secret. Cheng's portraits of mermaids curled like nautilus's on distant banks hits some nerve within me, lighting up the part of me that so likes borders (such as that of between purity and impurity) and danger (that of shipwreck by mariners smitten).
Not Cheng's work, but a nautical theme