Beginning during the Jan lockdown in Portugal, I began the From Nothing, 2021 series, 100 A4 paintings on paper, while unable to explore the beautiful country I had moved to. The process of working within a constrained format meant I had to push my creativity with very limited external inspiration. Similarly to painting within a consistent and smaller format, being in confinement meant an adjustment in my ideas of space and daily routines, with unknown consequences. This series began as a challenge to continue my art practice during an altered reality and represents a view into my internal world during a specific, possibly identifying, moment of time.
Isolated from the outside world, I was guided by my thoughts and memories to create a diagrammatic and symbolic language to tell what was a primarily internal story. I drew from previously explored ideas to consider altered perspectives, where ambiguity and duality, memories and reality, and differing interpretations are able to sit harmoniously together as one sequence. When looking at the series in chronological order, the works become a mirror to an inner process over a specific period of time: with some logical progression, side shifts, consistencies and inconsistencies, and change.
Much like in dreams, repetition of visual elements across different paintings indicate some continuity over time, yet the juxtaposition of dissonant styles show that the mind often jumps around in unexpected ways. Although this installation is organised chronologically, one could imagine different interpretations should the individual paintings be arranged based on another system, suggesting that a simple change in the sequence could tell a completely different story.
Thus, upon viewing the installation, the viewer becomes inherent in the interpretation, with their brain focusing on and noticing different elements in a particular sequence. This series then becomes not only a transparent view into one artist’s internal process in its chronological form, but also has the possibility of telling the story of each viewer’s internal process as they interpret and sequence the different images from their own perspective.
*Prints from this series are available as a triptych in my online print shop, please visit https://jenchau.art/product/the-from-nothing-series-custom-triptych.