In England I had spent my years making figurative paintings, subject matter changing with age, new concerns, thoughts about life, different experiences and interests informing that figurative work.
A move to Shanghai, China in 2009 was not only a significant move physically and mentally ( adjusting to new surroundings in a different country with a different culture and history ) but also a major shift in my artistic expression.
China smashed my ego; I realized I knew little.
I was well aware that my viewing of China through my sight, smell and ears was still informed by my own cultural baggage. It would have been easy to have fallen into, as so many do, assimilating what I saw of Chinese art into my own work ( another hybrid that in most cases is dominated by the artists original culture and that cultures baggage ) or make work expressing my China experience. Again, this would only result in an appropriation of Chinese art and would be informed by a western view of China, effectively giving a viewer of such work only a very partial truth about a country and its people and in no way giving any idea of that people's view of their direct environment and the world at large through their own cultural perspective.
The conclusion; I am a westerner, I make art informed by my western cultural experience wherever I am in the world.
At the same time I felt I did not want to make statements, socio-political or otherwise, with my work; for someone who can at times be opinionated and have a lot to say in a conversation, I was becoming quiet in my artistic practice.
Shanghai was too overwhelming maybe. The fast paced city, in a rapidly changing country, and even now, 10 years later it all seems like a dream, and I still could not define the country or its people, just share antidotes from a very enjoyable time spent living in Shanghai and visiting other cities, mountains, villages and other areas of the country.
At that time, between 2009 and 2011 my experiments and a few completed works became progressively abstracted. Abstract painting became my main focus of viewing on visiting galleries and museums in China, England, and the U.S.
The few works that were made in China where concerned with speed and light, the 24 hour rush of Shanghai but mostly the impression of the city at night, well the light really. These works took on a very minimalist aesthetic. A few marks would be made using compass and pencil to create a guide line after this each painted line would be added free hand adding either white or more hue to create the graduating tones in color strength.
This was the beginning of a deeper interest in, and making of, abstract paintings.