The Rake’s Progress: Luping in Australia (2010)
Posted by Luping (Bruce) Zeng
| tags: modern figurative abstract
A) Description of the proposed my project
I am an immigrant from China and a figurative painter. I have gained most of my art knowledge and conceptual understanding from the perspective of Chinese culture. Currently I am living in Australia and I wish to learn more about Western culture, art concepts and customs. I am very interested in many aspects of life in Australia as everything here is new to me and I am conscious of numerous interesting subjects for my work.
At present, my studio area for individual project is fine arts in the MAVA.
My individual project is titled “The Rake’s Progress: Luping in Australia”.
The type is series paintings, 6 works.
The medium is oil on canvas, Size: 750 x 600 mm.
My project plan is based on the depiction of immigrants in their new surroundings, from an immigrant’s perspective. The paintings produced will show people orientating themselves to fresh physical environments but they will also reflect the unavoidable clash of cultural values intrinsic to immigration.
Cross cultural elements: It would be my wish to construct works that highlighted the rules applied in Chinese modes of painting and the differences between cultural and social perspectives in China and Australia. Expressed as a hypothesis, the project would be “Figurative painting is an appropriate contemporary means of investigating immigration and cultural differences”.
As a structural model for my enquiry I propose to appropriate some aspects of “The Rake’s Progress” series by the 18th Century artist William Hogarth, the 20th Century artist David Hockney and contemporary artist Zhang Xiaogang. These series were episodic, showing the experiences of a person in new geographical and social circumstances.
B) A critical visual analysis of images that
relevant to my individual project
The English engraver and painter William Hogarth (1697-1764) played an important role in the development of narrative visual art and one of his important cycles of work was “A Rake’s Progress” (paintings 1732-33, engravings published 1735). In this series Hogarth was able to dramatically present the tragic decline of a young man in London, using comic elements to deliver moral observations. This cycle of work was a great success for Hogarth and since his time the theme and simple sequential structure has attracted the attention of other visual artists. The Russian composer Igor Stravinsky (1882 -1971) used the theme for an opera in 3 acts first performed in 1951.
David Hockney (born 1937) completed a “Rake’s Progress” cycle of etchings between 1961 and 1963, inspired by Hogarth, in which he made himself the principal character and setting the story in contemporary New York City. Although he originally intended to produce 8 plates in imitation of Hogarth he eventually produced 16 and these were commercially published. I found it interesting to see how Hockney, not at all limited by the details of Hogarth’s work, was able to use to the model to tell his own humorous story.
As I thought about the potential of this themes and structure I was also influenced by the work of the Chinese artist Zhang Xiaogang (born 1958) who himself had been influenced by Hockney in his “Bloodline” family series set in Beijing. For Hogarth, the rake’s progress was essentially one of dissolution, for Hockney it was a matter of adventure. For Zhang Xiaogamg, the bloodline series of family was a reminiscence of the 1960s.
In my own works I wish to pursue a first-person perspective, to make the location Queensland (city and country), to use humour in a positive way and to restructure Hogarth’s model for my own purposes.
The analysis and explanation of my work how my work can be understood complex and meaningful as a result of its following Hogarth's model.
William Hogarth’s “Rake’s Progress” was an important achievement and when we look at his paintings and prints we must be aware of many issues: -We can see a summary of Christian moral perspectives. -The use of humor to achieve the artist’s goals. -An exploration of serial images and messages. It would have been possible for Hogarth to employ a different approach. For example, he could have produced a written story accompanied by art works that were simpler illustrations or he could have concentrated on one major painting that combined many aspects of the Rake’s Progress story. An example of the later option would be Gustave Courbet’s very large and grand painting “The Artist’s Studio” of 1855 in which the artist tried to represent significant features of a seven year long period in his life. Hogarth’s use of serial paintings was so strong a model that it has influenced other artists over the centuries who wished to represent a sequence of narrative pictures. It also influenced cartoonists, composers and film-makers. Hogarth’s approach provided intimacy with the pictures and laid out a progressive story which prompted the viewer to meditate on the contents of each frame.
In assuming the Rake’s Progress structure for his own use David Hockney made the story into an autobiography and set it in his own times but he did use humor as a way of delivering his messages. In Hockney’s vision the final descent into hell of the main character is a process of being absorbed into a boring, uniform society. The overall sense of Hockney’s work is that of a contemporary comedy. As I thought about using the Rake’s Progress structure and theme I thought that there were things that I could use from both Hogarth and Hockney. From Hogarth: -The basic serial, pictorial structure. -An attention to moral issues in the contemporary world. -The use of a central character to deliver the story. -The sense of farce. From Hockney: -Autobiography. -The idea of migration (England to America). -A sense of contemporary informal humor. -A focus on contemporary issues. -The possibility of more open picture making strategies. In my own series of paintings I wish to address aspects of migration in a more substantial way than Hockney did, using my own self as the central character exploring life in a new country. In Australia there is much discussion of refugees and various aspects of immigration. I felt that as a migrant myself I could put light on aspects of this and that humor would help me to achieve that. I am also interested in the idea of conflicting moralities in our modern world. In China there is much attention paid to aspects of public morality, and large paintings are often commissioned to illustrate these points to people in society. If a person is too much focused on his or her own self this is considered improper and self-indulgent. Hockney was concerned with his own evolution as a person and this is for me a refreshing aspect of his Rake’s Progress. There is also the matter of tragedy will I will discuss later in this document.
What is it that I have learned from Hogarth, Hockney and Zhang Xioagang?
This project would be topical for a number of reasons. Immigration itself is the subject of much current debate in Australia, and artists have useful perspectives to add to such broad conversations. Chinese immigration, in particular, has been throughout Australia’s history a thorny topic for analysis. The rules of Chinese art contain certain moral standards and positions, and consideration of these would make an interesting addition to the rake’s progress theme. Though Hogarth portrayed the adventures of a single exemplar he did this to make general moral points. Application of Chinese rules to alien subjects, in alien surroundings, could both reflect consideration of the Chinese rules themselves and highlight key Australian values from a foreign perspective. The fact that Hockney has visited China, has made work about China and been so fascinated by Chinese art makes him a relevant reference. Today, Zhang Xiaogang’s work is attentive fashioned at Europe as a contemporary Chinese symbol which adds further theatrical possibilities to my project. In China, large, politically motivated paintings are quite common. My works would use the conventions in such work to achieve their goals.
C) Photographic documentation of original critical work
produced by myself in response to these images or environment. My works will combine diverse resource material, landscape studies, popular imagery and biographical information.
Why put in self portrait in front: it creates a symbol to link to the character development of the painting by emphasis the self aspect in the front expressed as the state of extremeness and homeliness. Its describe that illimitable freedom and jocosity. This means the philosophy reflect from my treatments in logos and experiential, and I actually wish origin intrinsic of personal perspective from self - Luping's vision .
Figure1, Scene1, ”Visa”, 2010, medium: oil on canvas, size: 600x750mm
• The popular goal of immigration by Chinese
• A phenomena of Chinese community
• A beautiful dream
• Successful in the immigration
• An adventure activity
• Seeking development for self-life
Description : Scene 1, Visa
I received the Australian visa at Australian Consulate in Shanghai in 2001, when the scene was full of details underling of the happiness that had been successful in this luxury, bright house. I was going to immigrate to Australia and I to find a new life. Portrait of front me, which it describe my emotions at that time. The background shows some Chinese people waiting to obtain their visas.
In my first Rake’s Progress painting I will show myself gaining my visa in Shanghai. In the painting other people are not so lucky (maybe someone from Tibet in background). Why should I be lucky? Am I abandoning China? Am I being self-indulgent? In Australia there is much debate about why this person to get a visa and not this other person. Should I feel sorry for others? These are moral questions.
Form analysis of Scene 1: The main structure of the painting is based on “X” shape. Some superposition’s triangle shape and vertical lines were used as associate. These combinations build up the environment of dram effective.
Figure2, Sketching of Scene 1, “Visa” Figure 3, Form analysis of Scene 1, “Visa”
Figure 4, Scene2, ”Sea world”, 2010, medium: oil on canvas, size: 600x750mm
Scene 2 signifies
• A fresh physical environments
• A beautiful country
• A interesting involved
• A characteristic performance
• Happiness in that time
Description: Scene 2, Sea world
In direct contrast to the manner which has visited Australian environments, I have quickly adapted to a life of fresh physical environments. The theatre of Sea world was full set which showed the program of seal performing with two girls. The appearance made veiled references to illegal fishing and refugees arriving in small boats through the girls in the boat feeding seals. The audience were all concentrate to enjoy the performance. The performance came from the back of bridge with seal by a boat. Front I was watching the interesting programs.
In my second Rake’s progress painting I will show myself at Seaworld. There will be a small boat on which a girl feeds seals. This refers partly to the boat people and will contrast the way that some people live out tragedies while others watch the story from places of comfort and safety. The location in Seaworld will give me the chance to have a sense of farce and popular entertainment.
Form analysis of Scene 2: The lie down “M” shape structured the theatre’s broad scene, the up located triangle and down triangle shapes made the picture vision movements. Some vertical and horizontal lines created the structure stable sense. These essentials of composite combined for Sea world theatre’s vision.
Figure 5, Sketching of Scene 2, “Sea world” Figure 6, Form analysis of Scene 2, “Sea world”
Scene 3, Beach
Figure 7, Scene2, ”Beach”, 2010, medium: oil on canvas, size: 600x750mm
Scene 3 signifies
• Enjoying natural environment
• A wide vision
• Relaxing activity
• In new geographical place
• A image of the blue and yellow
• A like of Australian people
Description: Scene 3, Beach
This beautiful scene is break in the Miami Beach, a place at the Gold Coast. People were relaxing in the sunshine at the beach or swimming in the ocean, makes a comfortable contrast with my studied immigration scene 1. Near the ocean the left, a father was teaching some skill of swimming to his children, the mother was supporting which is probably more suited to my visiting last than the Sea world being watching at the theatre’s programs in scene 2. Waving two hands is showed my happiness emotion that came at front of beach, see running tasting physical environments in foreground, which will spin and pose upon it.
In my third rake’s Progress painting I will show myself at the beach, a very Australian scene. In China the people are very modest about nudity in public but in Australia this is not the same. I will be seeing a woman, maybe a Chinese woman, with bare breasts and I will be shocked. By using comedy I will be able to raise the subject of different cultural standards.
Form analysis of Scene 3: The diamond shape is superposition on the Pyramids made the movement vision to show the free down running. And these horizontal and vertical lines were located at the one third of the position, to accordance with the golden rate. The context pursued from Hogarth’s philosophy of “A rake’s progress”.
Figure 8, Sketching of Scene 3, “Beach” Figure 9, Form analysis of Scene 3, “Beach”
Scene 4, ”Holiday”
Figure 10, Scene2, ”Holiday”, 2010, medium: oil on canvas, size: 600x750mm
Scene 4 signifies
• Australian people lifestyle
• Join community activity
• Convention issues
• Extra communication
• Learn new knowledge from local custom
Description: Scene 4, Holiday
The active of the new geographical lifestyle is shown in scene 4, set in the Musgrave Park of South bank. I was on my way to Musgrave Park to enjoy the holiday surrounding. Fortunately I had a chance to join the meeting which was invited by my friends. I have been shared by the appropriate entertainment of holiday. In scene 1, I had succeeded with my visa and immigrating to the new surrounding, from immigration’s experience.
In my fourth Rake’s Progress painting I will shown me in Musgrave Park participating in the Greek Paniyiri Festival. The scene looks like big outdoor family feast. In China holidays mostly have a family focus and take place indoors, for example in a hotel, restaurant or club. In this painting I will try to give a sense of the many cultural layers in such a scene. One way to think of Australia today is to move beyond the simple centre periphery and consider the nation from an international perspective, with multiple ethnicities. Australia now enfolds the rich, the poor, the dispossessed and the in-transit. Musgrave Park is a good setting for this work as it is a special place for indigenous people. In The Hogarth works we see the effects of a move from England to the USA, but the contrasts of other migrations can be much more extreme and will be emphasized in my work.
Form analysis of Scene 4: It was being swoon when I had after some drinking that I used the big inclined rectangle shape as a main structure in the form. The background horizontal lines tried to make the vision balance. Front triangle shape build main part of the structure as a highlighted my situation. This philosophy used is from Zhang Xiaogang’s “Bloodline series of Family”.
Figure 11, Sketching of Scene 5, “City” Figure 12, Form analysis of Scene 5, “City”
Scene 5, City
Figure 13, Scene2, ”City”, 2010, medium: oil on canvas, size: 600x750mm
• Stress with me
• Unavoidable clash of cultural values
• Hurry up to appropriated to society
Description: Scene 5, City
The scene is set in Brisbane city, which is the capital of Queensland. My life was stressful, because the different social cultural and background caused misunderstanding and made some pressures in my life that the unavoidable clash of cultural values intrinsic to immigration. I attempted to appropriate after work time, through the city to hurry back home. See the mass of people were extremely busy with their action. And relaxing of that time for my now appears to have gone.
In my fifth Rake’s Progress painting I will show myself in the centre of in Brisbane City, stressed by the many people, great activity and challenging sights. This will extend some of the issues in the previous painting. Where do all these people come from? Is it the same as China where the matter of people immigrating to cities is hotly discussed? Am I acting like an Australian?
Form analysis of Scene 5: The major “X” shape constructed the form in pressure. It looks like the arrow from centre dot radiate to forward. They produced radiation formation to create tension sense as an image vision. Also these horizontal and vertical lines combined to form a perspective, such as close is broad and far is narrow. Front the direction of triangle is forward to the dot of centre. All these factors would be composited the tension revelation.
Figure 14, Sketching of Scene 1, “Visa” Figure 15, Form analysis of Scene 1, “Visa”
Figure 16, Scene6, ”College”, 2010, medium: oil on canvas, size: 600x750mm
Scene 6 signifies
• Progress in Australia
• Artist lifestyle
• Advance education
• Western culture and concept
• Modern facility
Description: Scene 6, College
The last scene is set in Southbank QCA of Griffith University, a college for the artists fostered. I am studying in the fine art class, foreground almost excited of undertaking and therefore my career is progressing, modern education is open to studying students. Within this scene the students are standing around with the lecturer which focused to lecturer’s teaching in the class. The development is that, while I have set out to act the artist lifestyle. I am developing by being one of the immigration progresses.
In my last Rake’s Progress painting I will show myself studying at QCA. In the work a girl will be grimacing and joking with other students in a carefree situation. Students and lecturers are equal. In China scenes of education are very serious – no fun, just learning. Here I have been absorbed into this culture and I am one of the class groups but unlike in the Hockney work I am still recognizable and have my identity.
Form analysis of Scene 6: This structure shaped a focus was from the top of the pyramids emitted which create an interesting vision core, and the multiple geometry shapes combined as a associate figure to set off. They figured contrast between pyramids and multiple that highlighted the rake’s progress story.
Figure 17, Sketching of Scene 6, “College” Figure 18, Form analysis of Scene 6, “College”
Description of the baldness: Bald is used as one of the self aspects, because bald signifies the best and ambiguous emotion, which I have discovered. The bald likes a little radical, but most time is confusion. Such as monk, soldier and prisoner all are bald as a custom. Bald also signifies fashionable lifestyle in today. Baldness appears as absoluteness without selfhood. It can show conceptual holistic personality and be adding fineness. My primary perspectives is to use these elements to represent simplicity and pellucid my own vision.
Compare and contrast my work with Hogarth and Hockney in the field
In the Hogarth paintings the tragedy is something that builds up to the end. The Rake loses his money, goes to goal and ends up in a prison for mad people. In Hockney’s work there are references to death and the full tragedy comes at the end but it is all about running out of money, being rejected by fashionable people and ending up as an ordinary person. This tragedy is basically comic in nature. In my work I want to have a sense of tragedy built into the first two paintings – the tragedy of the other people not getting visas, the reference to poor sad boat people – but then I want to move onto a lighter conclusion where I am still puzzled and challenged by cultural differences but happy to be in an open society, living in Brisbane and studying at QCA. So I will have altered the structure of the original rakes’ progress by putting the references to tragedy at the start, and by making the story about moving away from tragedy to happiness.
Composition strategies and processes
I undertake the MAVA as a one-year full-time degree, commencing March 2010 and concluding in October 2010. During the year I wish to fine-tune my project, undertake appropriate reading, further investigate the Rake’s Progress works of Hogarth, Hockney and Zhang Xiaogang do sketches and studies of achievable subjects and make some prototype works. Following the Confirmation Seminar I would move into creation of the series of major works for final presentation. I would hope that the series would be both satisfy the MAVA requirements and be suitable for later exhibition in other venue.
3.David Hockney(1937-), Viewed 22 March 2010
5.Hockney, David, David Hockney by David Hockney, Thames and Hudson, London, 1976, pages 91-92.
8.David Hockney: Portraits - VIP Private View, Viewed 26 March 2010
12.Christies, Viewed 16 March 2010