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Collisions of Colour: a conversation with Ping He

Master of colour and form, Ping He ( 和平 ) combines his personal passions for science and art, transforming ideograms into contemporary graffiti imbued with energy and colour. Michele Tufigno delves deeper into the Shanghai native’s work and inspiration for The NY-ArtNews.

Slowing Down, 2018, Acrylic on Linen 60x50 cm

Ping He’s work is not your average painting: imbued with millennia of history yet simultaneously of the moment, his style has evolved throughout his career, capturing facets of his complex thought process and reflecting our ever-changing world. From stark pencil lines to delicate pastel tones, Ping transforms the ideogram into simple form, freeing himself from the diktats of calligraphy to create something entirely new, albeit harking back to his ever-present Chinese heritage. His personal approach to his metier may seem unorthodox to some: ‘I am obsessed with painting and the reason is very simple: during the painting process, new feelings are constantly produced, with new thoughts and new creative thinking. Some people say that creation is art, but I see it more as an interesting game. Because there is no template, the expression will show different visual effects every day’, he enthusiastically explains. Having approached painting in his youth, Ping discovered his need for personal expression when visiting New York in 1999 to launch a solo exhibition; it was this first personal contact with the works of Western masters and the avant-garde art of Chelsea’s galleries that prompted his revolution of ‘self’.

Kinetic Energy, 2017, Acrylic on Linen 60x50 cm

It is in fact this manifestation of the ‘self’ which is so dominant in his artistic endeavours; his self-professed dissatisfaction with his early works has allowed him to craft his very own aesthetic language, providing a medium for expression that transcends cultural and linguistic barriers. Attracting the attention of the international art community through his subconscious reinvention of the ideogram, Ping employs pencil, felt-tip pen and good old paint and brush to express his creation of new spatial structures on linen or rice paper, harking back to his childhood education in the art of traditional calligraphy.

Deflected Light, 2017, Acrylic on Linen 60x50 cm

It is this very link to the past through an undeniably contemporary lens which has attracted the attention of European and American audiences, allowing Ping to successfully showcase his work for Western audiences keen to embrace the esoteric East and his very personal take on scientific development and Taoist philosophy. He places particular emphasis on the need for balance and of the act of creating as a means of returning to this very same balance: ‘Hawking’s view of the universe touched me especially: the painting process seems to be driven and guided by an invisible force. I feel that through my painting of repeated crossed lines and the yin and yang collision of colors, a new space is created, allowing the soul to inhabit it. Every life exists in the overall energy system because of its molecular form in the movement of the universe, so in the process of creation I feel the magnetic field, gravitation and energy waves are balanced in the collision of brushstrokes and colors.’

Uniform Motion, 2018, Acrylic on Linen 60x50 cm

Having seen his work included in international art publications and featured in important international art exhibitions, including solo exhibitions held at the Chinese Cultural Centers in Germany, Malta and Spain, Ping He summarises his art and drive simply yet effectively: ‘My art is ultimately based upon simple graphics, which are the condensation and refining of drawing form and structured language to show the inner power of life’.

Time Flies, 2017, Acrylic on Linen 60x50 cm

Ping He’s work is slated to be featured in the “Sprung 4 Exhibition" at the ARTHOUSE NYC digital gallery in May 2020, followed by an exhibition within the Gagliardi Gallery at the London Art Biennale in November of 2020, pandemic permitting. Ping He is currently also preparing for his participation in the XIII Florence Biennale Contemporary art exhibition in October 2021.

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