An artist and poet, Yomei’s work reflects her strong Buddhist beliefs, and her deep interest in spiritual and esoteric philosophies, alchemy, myth, symbols and rituals. Along with her great love of music, these have become inextricably linked to her creative process. Her work is inspired by a sense of fragility, by the elusiveness of identity, thoughts, memories and emotions. She says of her work: ‘I am interested in he process of disintegration, which I see as a beginning as well as an end. In painting, my working process reflects this in that I build and strip until layers of dialogue emerge between the materials. I try to reflect the elemental and a sense of the cyclical and impermanent nature of existence.’ The imagery in her poems echoes in her visual work; the two disciplines inform one another and are vital components of her working process.
The Hidden Heart
The works in this exhibition are a meditation on the impermanent nature of being. The Buddhist sutra that explains this most succinctly is the 2,500 year old Prajñaparamita Heart Sutra, which is a short discourse on the nature of reality. It tells us that the true nature of reality is the essence of wisdom and the key to liberation from suffering.
It tells us that, everything that comes together falls apart. As all relative phenomena, including thoughts and perceptions, are composite, they are subject to a host of conditions for their manifestation. When these conditions change, the nature of the phenomenon in question also changes. Nothing is fixed, everything is impermanent, and all things exist interdependently. It tells us that nothing exists that does not exist in the mind.
From this point of view, the nature of existence is really empty - empty of an independent reality. What is material will always disintegrate. Form is never permanent; in form there is always the formless and vice versa.
On Materials & Colours
Yomei’s use of materials is symbolic. In many of her works she incorporates incense ash, dried and crushed seeds, her own hair, feathers, burnt and torn gauze and sand.
The predominant colours used in The Hidden Heart are gold, white and ox blood red. Gold and white are colours associated with the alchemical process. The red used here symbolizes wisdom in Buddhism; it is also the colour of blood. Yomei associates this with wounds and the process of healing.
Born in 1961 to a Chinese-Russian father and Chinese-German mother in Taipei, Taiwan, Yomei studied art and literature at Skidmore College, upstate New York, after a traditional Chinese education in Taiwan. From an early age she studied Chinese landscape painting and calligraphy with masters of both genres. In 1981, after a year of studying in Germany, she moved to the UK and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in the History and Theory of Art and English literature from the University of Kent at Canterbury in 1984. After Kent, Yomei graduated from the Sotheby's Works of Art Course and went on to study the History of Chinese painting and ceramics at SOAS, University of London.
Chiang Yomei is also a published poet in both English and Chinese. She lives and works in London, and her work can be found in public and private collections in Europe and Asia.