Chen Hao is an established American painter born in China, whose works have been featured in exhibitions, publications, prizes and public collections worldwide. Hao has created his own style which he has dubbed Postmodern-Narrationism. This term describes his original visual system in which each composition contains its own story executed through postmodern techniques. Hao’s artistic success is built upon the narrative basis of his work which consistently provides emotional thrills and visual joys. We spoke with the artist to learn more about his practice, theory, and inspirations.
Hello Chen! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a California-based American painter, art theorist, and bilingual writer born in Shanghai, China. I received a Master’s degree in Studio Art from the University of South Carolina and I’m the founder of Postmodern-Narrationism theory. Art is my air- I’ve been attached to visual arts since my childhood.
Why do you make art?
Art is my life; it keeps me having a childlike heart. I have to create art in order to release and express my inner emotions and feelings. These expressions are also my way to interact and speak with the world. Life without making art is something I can’t imagine.
When working on a new project, what are the first steps you take?
I always pray first and “paint” my fresh idea in my heart before beginning a new project on the canvas. As a painter, I think the most important thing is to use “heart” to create artworks, not just tools. In addition, I often quickly view at least ten-thousand paintings around the world online before starting. I delete my original idea without hesitation if I find any similar works. I want my artworks to be unique.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I appreciate combining visual arts and literature. These two forms are unified but also independent. Therefore, the combination of painting and storytelling lets my artwork have more vitality of emotion and connotation.
Has your approach and process changed throughout your artistic career?
Art evolves with the advancement of mankind. So my artistic career has changed with its development. I created a brand new English word “Narrationism” and a unique fine art style called Postmodern-Narrationism. A painting with long-lasting value must contain a story. Therefore, my painting is combined with literature. Also, under the theory of Postmodern-Narrationism, I have strengthened the depth of connection between natural beauty with an organic unity of ideological contents, artistic skills, and visual joys in the past creative practice.
Storytelling and art are intertwined in your practice. Why do you think this connection is so important?
In all the classic masterpieces of fine art from ancient cave art up to now, there are wonderful stories running through the paintings. Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is like this, Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas is like this too, and Rembrandt H. van Rijn’s Night Watch is even more so. It’s very important to have an image story in your painting if you want future generations to understand and keep your artwork many years later.
When you envision the trajectory of your career, what kind of impression or impact would you like to make on the world?
Although born in the East, I have received art education in both the East and the West. If Western art is likened to a pretty garden, then the Postmodern-Narrationism is a new fresh flower in this garden. I’m very honored to have cultivated this beautiful flower for the prolonging of this ancient Western art and created a new art theory for the world.
Introducing the literary elements makes the Postmodern-Narrationism artwork contain ideological connotations and emotional energy. This also adds to the enrichment and dynamism of cultures. Therefore, Postmodern-Narrationism will have a profound impact on the world. I think that this theory can influence people’s artistic creation, visual appreciation, and aesthetic judgment, because our human life is inseparable from stories and art. Let art marry literature!