Great Painting of Journey to the West
Chen Jianzhou is a diligent and progressive young artist who is full of creativity and imagination. He has a relatively smooth artistic skill learning experience. He liked drawing since he was a kid, and since then, he started learning drawing until he graduated from Beijing Union University in 2012. In recent years, he has been drawing and living as a freelance artist.
Chen Jianzhou first caught my attention with his Fly and Desire series. The little pilot whose aerobat stops working can be regarded as Chen Jianzhou himself at the first sight, or also a part of our minds. For Chen Jianzhou, he has created a world in his mind. The world is about dreams, heroes, frustrations, innocence and growth. On the basis of his solid basic skills and artful techniques, Chen Jianzhou showed us the story of a "Superman" who wanted to fly again with bright colors.
While his Journey to the West series can be taken as one of his dreams since childhood. He couldn't remember how many versions of comic books of Journey to the West he read, nor can he remember for how many times he read them. The story depicting gods and supernatural beings that was first written by Wu Chengen and then portrayed and starred by Zhang Guangyu (art producer of The Monkey King in 1964), Wan Laiming (director of The Monkey King in 1964), Zhang Lingtao (comic book author of Journey to the West, published by Shanghai People's Fine Arts Publishing House in 1980), Stephen Chow (leading actor of A Chinese Odyssey and director of Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons) has great vitality in itself. For Chen Jianzhou, Journey to the West was one of his earliest artistic enlightenments. He has been passionately devoted to folk art forms including Chinese painting, line drawing, claborate-style painting and even woodcuts and New Year pictures, which were all due to the influence of Journey to the West. During his junior high school study, he was entranced to the pictures every time he watched the caricatures of Journey to the West. The desire from the bottom of his heart would never be forgotten by Chen Jianzhou.
After starting independent drawing, Chen Jianzhou tried to personalize and visualize Journey to the West, and he finally completed the series. The classic with top-ranking ideological and artistic contents and the four heroes of Tang Priest, Sun Wukong, Pigsy and Sha Monk who overcame 81 challenges were re-designed by Chen Jianzhou by means of his special cartoon images and humorous and joking plots. In his own interpretation of this series, we get to know that "time flies and things change. Reality has changed us, so try not let the speciosity erode our true self or change our most essential mission - go on a pilgrimage for the scriptures of our mind", "in trance, I dreamt that Sun Wukong was sick and he was having an intravenous drip while lying on bed. The almighty Sun Wukong could be sick! People can be fragile even if they are normally strong", "Although there is a long way to go, heroes will be heroes." This is Chen Jianzhou's understanding of heroes and Journey to the West. They are fresh and alive, capable and imperfect. It is because of the imperfections that we must pursue our dreams, experience more frustrations and hardships. This is the same as why Stephen Chow's Sun Wukong and the snail in Jay Chou's song are oved by so many people. Sometimes we fear that we cannot make it and we afraid of all sorts of things and become too careful; sometimes we are determined and go on our way bravely.
Maybe many friends who like Chen Jianzhou's drawings are just like me. His drawings move us with our own reflections, and our dreams that we always wanted to make them come true.
Chen Jianzhou is a man who does not yield to fate. He has a strong and hardworking heart in his thin yet energetic body. This reminds me of a idiom: "As a man cannot be known by his looks, so can the sea not be measured by a bushel.", which was originated from the 62nd Hui in Journey to the West. Chen Jianzhou is a Superman-to-be in my eyes. I look forward to more of his drawings - let the light of dreams be more dazzling to illuminate more realities.
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