Hou Shanhu

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1962       Born in Beijing, China.
1983       Graduated from the PLA Art Academy, Fine Arts Department.
1993       live and work in U.S. and China.

Group Exhibitions:

– The 6th China National Art Exhibition, Art Museum of China.

– The 5th China National Youth Art Exhibition, Art Museum of China.

– The 3rd Oil Painting Exhibition, Beijing International Art Museum.

– Group show, Osceola Center of the Arts,Kissimmee, Florida.

– Art Expo New York 2008, Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York.

– The 11th China National Art Exhibition, the Art Museum of China Central Academy of Fine Arts.
– The 8th Annual Florida Watercolor Society Exhibition, the Visual Arts Center, Florida.

– Solo Art Miami, Miami Airport Convention Center.
– Jan & Gary Dario Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida.
– Art Basel / Art Season 2011, Cancio contemporary, Bloomingdale’s Aventura Miami.
– Art Expo Miami 2012, Miami, Florida.
– Jai Gallery, Orlando, Florida.

– “Dynamic Origin”—Shanhu Hou Ink Works Solo Exhibition, Taihe Art Gallery.
– “5+5”Chinese-Spanish Women Artists Contemporary Works On Paper,
Yong He Art Museum, Beijing.
-Setba Art Gallery, Barcelona.
-Lasala Contemporary Art Center, Vilanova.

– “Dynamic”—Shanhu Hou Ink Works Solo Exhibition, Taihe Art Gallery.
– “The 12th China National Art Exhibition” – Mixed Media

– “Art Beijing 2015″, Art Fair, National Agriculture Exhibition Center, Beijing

-“National Mixed Material Painting Biennale”, Ningbo, China

-“Asia Eyes Paper Exhibition”, the 4th Korea Busan Art Expo, Korea

-“Chinese Ink SHUIMO Century Change Road”, Beijing Minsheng Art Museum, Beijing

-“Other Utopia- Abstract Art Series Exhibition · Boundary”, Mingyuan Art Museum, Shanghai

-“Yihang China and the West, Group Exhibition of contemporary arts in China and Spain”, 289 Art Space, Guangzhou, China

-“Red and Green, International Female Art Exhibition”, 117 Art Centre, Ningbo, China

– Ink Asia 2016, Hong Kong, Art Fair

-“Art Taipei 2016″, Art Fair.



-“Dynamic”—Shanhu Hou Ink Works Solo Exhibition,Da Xiang Art Space, Taichung city

-“Art Taipei 2017″, Art Fair. Taipei World Trade Center

-“Ink Asia 2017”, Art Fair. Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center

– “Sight & Field”10th Anniversary Exhibition of Da Xiang Art Space, Da Xiang Art Space, Taichung city

– Art Formosa 2017, Art Fair, Taipei


Shanhu Hou: Breaking boundary, back to the nature of inner self


Ku Art=Ku: Your work, though abstract, always gives rise to some poetic associations, it reminds me of poetry that references lotus ponds, water, and even microorganisms. Perhaps precisely because what is reflected in your paintings do not resort to what we see, but what we feel with our heart? Maybe your work can be called images from the heart?


Hou Shanhu=Hou: My series titled “Dynamic Phenomenon” “态象” (tài xiàng) represents an external manifestation of the inner being. It is not the objective reality of things visible, but an embodiment of elements invisible. Water is the vital source of life, and nothing can be sustained without it. Water and Chinese ink together can create a fluid media. I like to take advantage of the malleable quality of ink and capture its movement on rice paper. Therefore, the series embodies elements of our environment, giving a variety of associations to my audience. I like working with materials suitable for what I want to express.


Ku: Chinese ink possesses a kind of expression that embodies organic expansion. The artist captures and preserves what seems to be unintended effects that are intentional. In the process, is there a kind of mutual discovery between art and self-reflection?


Hou: The relationship between image and being is a mutual discovery. In particular, abstract art, it has no reference, everything is its own form. I experimented a lot on rice paper with Chinese ink and western pigments. As a result, a lot of unexpected things happened. In this process, I gradually found some of the ink’s unique morphological elements. I try to extract them and develop their symbolic representation and language.


Chinese ink is a susceptible medium. It is flexible and sensitive, difficult to control. An artist needs to have patience and perseverance while working with it. An artist must be faithful to the characteristics of the medium itself, conform to the will of the material, and not force the medium to do something unsuitable to its nature. Excessive force on the medium is tantamount to abandoning the material’s expressive power. Only when a tacit relationship formed between the artist and the medium can this medium play a competent role in expressing the artist’s ideas. Each art materials has its limitations, just as people have their inhibitions. The process of discovery and recognition of both restrictions is mutually discoverable.


Ku: Your painting does not belong to abstractionism in the Western context, nor is it traditional Chinese, how do you choose between the two?


Hou: I develop my painting based on its form. Creating a form is like creating a life. From the discovery of an element to the combination of various elements, the internal structure of the components is interrelated and interdependent, and in motion, it continually changes, evolves, and generates.


The building blocks of “Dynamic Phenomenon” is not based on the traditional Eastern way of depiction nor general Western structural concepts. I do not like to have a preset proposition or composition before I paint. I want to be present with my being and not let it affect my free play. My art is an expression developed during my interaction with the materials. The seemingly random forms are born while I seek out and respect the establishment of natural order while encountering various uncertainties.


Ku: You consciously give up part of your control while painting and let the media cultivate naturally. This seems to be a spiritual endeavor, that is, surrender and to recognize the ego. Is this also related to the influence of Lao Zhuang’s thought of “inaction” ideology?


Hou: Taoism is a philosophical tradition of Eastern origin which emphasizes living with “effortless action.” It doesn’t mean to do nothing in a literal sense, but to make a difference by the naturalness within inaction, simplicity, and spontaneity. Abstract art is a creation from scratch. What is the relationship between shapes, structures, and forms in the picture? Everything seems to be a man-made arrangement, but the coordination of such arrangement must conform to the laws of nature. To lay down our “obsession” is to take on no preconceived ideas, to open the heart and experience the infinite possibilities of the unknown, discover the eternal natural order, the law of all life and creation.


Ku: Many of your works have a lot of negative space, and sometimes it seems random and casual. Is it easy to create them?


Hou: The characteristic of rice paper is that once drawn on, the ink becomes permanent. Painting on rice paper requires sophisticated skill. The grasp of simplicity and creation of emptiness involves self-control. The implementation of each brush stroke is an adventure that determines success or failure.


Although my creative method is full of random chances at each step, it is a very rigorous rational procedure overall. When painting, I simultaneously allow myself to be free and in control. The accumulation of experience comes from the thorough understanding of the media and lessons from various failures. Art practice is a personal experience. One must face the specific problems encountered and find solutions.


Ku: From the perspective of Chinese philosophy, the essence of “no internal no external” and “no big no small ” (the concept of everything is one) is the fundamental path to understanding “道” (Taoism or tao). Is this concept also related to your creative process?


Hou: The spirit of ancient Chinese artistry emphasizes Tao and the progression to Tao. To grasp Tao’s meaning, the practice of art must go beyond techniques. We often unconsciously adapt to a habitual pattern. One should dare to challenge by exploring the unknown. The best method is not to be in complete control, but to allow accidents to occur. Realizing the truth of Tao is to achieve new breakthroughs while acknowledging the presence of constant change.


The essence of art is to break through our limitations by returning to the inner being. 态 (tài) is born from the heart. To answer to the spiritual truth and allow our being to be naturally transformed and expressed.