The East and West Intersect, Provoking the Imagination | Demos Chiang: “Shin-ga”
January 12 , 2023 Tokyo
Animals silently gaze from within the whirling pools of colors; aligned with one another, blending into a world that draws viewers in at Demos Chiang’s solo exhibition, "Shin-ga" (神畫). The term "Shin-ga" translates in Chinese, the study of “Fantastic Beasts” coined from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books. Demos, who has painted previously real animals, presents for the first time at Whitestone Ginza New Gallery paintings of imaginary beasts. The artist expresses his love of Eastern philosophy and respect for Western science through his “Shin-ga” exhibition.
From Designer to Artist
The exhibition view
ー You wear many hats: as a multi-creator, digital art curator, and designer. What inspired you to become an artist?
Demos: I love to create. Bringing something to life out of nothing. That was the reason why I went into design. But throughout my years in the design field, I realized that I am still creating objects, space, brand…under a strict business rule. And it limited one’s ability to be free.
Hence, after 18 years in design, I decided to go back to the purest form of creation, and that is art. By doing so, I started to heal myself. In art, all it mattered is honesty. Taste, authenticity, technique…are just components of the art, but honesty is the soul of art.
Therefore, I can’t find a reason not to be an artist.
The exhibition view
ー How do you decide on the themes and motifs for your work?
Demos: I only paint animals. Because I believe animals are the purest form of humans. They only show violence when their survival is threatened. That simplicity, is what human lacks.
As for the themes, it’s all about my daily life. A chat with my children, coffee with friends, even disagreements are all translated into my pieces. One can say that painting is how I write my diary.
From the exhibition view、Demos Chiang《CHEERS, FAMILY》2022, 90.0 × 140.0cm, Canvas, Mixed Media
Crossover of The East and West
From the exhibition view、Main visual 《CROSS》 2022 on the middle work.
ー Please tell us more about the theme of this exhibition, “Shin-ga”.
Demos: This is the first time I painted animals I had never seen before. Specifically, dragons and unicorn.
Right now, we are at the beginning of the post-Covid era, at this time, hope and to dare to dream is very important. Hence, I use unicorn and his friends and dragon and his friends to represent utopia. At the end of the day, regardless of the race, we all strive for the same happy ending.
Some may say this is too naive, but this simplicity is how we can move forward.
From the exhibition view、Close-up of Demos Chiang《WAITING FOR SPRING》2022
ー The motifs and style of your previous works are very different from the primary visual "CROSS" this time. What were the circumstances surrounding this?
Demos: I choose Cross to be the main visual is because that was my impression of the Whitestone gallery. Someone from the east yet quite western. So, I created a dragon in the tradition eastern form, yet with six wings. Because in the east, we focus on philosophy, which is imagination. But in the west, they focus on science. That’s why the dragon will need wings so it can fly.
This is also how I view my position in the world: an eastern essence with a western approach.
Demos Chiang, "CROSS" work in progress
ー As a multidisciplinary artist, how do you approach and make the distinction when working in different art fields?
Demos: Design is a service. You charge clients based on the expected return. Basically, you work for someone. And they are buying your “market value”. An Artist, on the other hand, you are your own client. And why collectors collect your work, they are purchasing a piece of you, which is your “soul value”. And as a curator, you become a bridge, linking the creation with the business intentions. People hire you to exercise coordination skill.
As long as you can clearly define your role, it’s actually quite beneficial to experience both sides of the table.
From the exhibition view、Demos Chiang《PHOENIX DANCE》2023, 27.5 x 53.5 x 60cm, 316 Stainless Steel
“To paint at least 10000 hours”
ー Do you have any rules or routines in your creative process?
Demos: The only rule I set for myself is that I need to paint at least 10000 hours. So, I paint everyday. I know I am not a genius, so I feel more comfortable when I put in the hard works.
ー Do you have a particular approach to your work?
Demos: I try to use medium and tools that is more related to interior construction to create my work. Through combining different paint, and their own chemical reactions, I created my version of the traditional Chinese ink landscape.
ー Your grandfather was an influential figure in politics. Did this have any influence on your work?
Demos: I am from a political family. And my life had been condensed and interesting. When I was young, I was troubled. But now, I know my experiences are unique and it is this uniqueness that gave my art its depth. So, my family are always in my art.
Demos Chiang painting a poem inside the exhibition room
ー What are your future endeavors?
Demos: I never plan big. So, I will first try to become an iconic Asian artist. Then I will think about the next step.
ー Finally, do you have any words for the audience?
Demos: My relationship with my creation ends the day they are catered. After that, they have their own lives. So, the viewer can view my work whichever way they like.
From a collaboration with jewelry designer SHEE
Demos began as a designer, then an artist and curator involved in the art world for some time. The artist's philosophy and reflections quietly reflect through the pure force and instinct of animals as opposed to human civilization and rationality. In this exhibition, the artist shows works that go beyond painting, such as sculpture works and a collaboration with jewelry designer SHEE. Demos has been scrutinized for his installations and NFT works in recent years and we invite you to experience the intensity and vivid metamorphosis portrayed by the artist.