Showcase 62

“Montage of The Mind – Original Oil Paintings by Nong Shao Hua”

HANRAD Art Exhibition

Location: Hamilton, New Zealand
Date: November, 2022


Nong Shao Hua


Born in Shan Xi Province, China in 1960

Currently living in Song Zhuang Artist Village in Beijing

Solo Exhibition

“Montage of the Mind”, Red Gate Gallery, Beijing 2016

“Madness & Mayhem”, Red Gate Gallery, Beijing 2018

“Anonymity”, Red Gate Gallery, Beijing 2019

“A Rich Man of Time”, Red Gate Gallery, Beijing 2020

“Mister Anonymous”, online show, Live in Art Gallery, Sydney 2020

“Nong Shaohua: City of Unknown”, Time Gallery, New York 2021

“Montage of The Mind”, HANRAD Gallery, Hamilton 2022

Group Show

“A Distant Cry from Spring”, Hokkaido, Japan 2015

“Alternative”, E+Hive Art and Design Gallery, Melbourne 2017

“Platter”, Live in Art Gallery, Sydney 2019

Artist in Residency

Red Gate Gallery, Beijing2015

Live in Art Gallery, Sydney 2019

Art Fair

Art Central Hong Kong, Presented by Red Gate Gallery 2017/18/19


The Art of Nong Shao Hua

Nong Shao Hua brought to New Zealand a selection of his paintings made over the last few years. These impressive works are unlike anything done in New Zealand, but they do employ the Modernist styles of expressionism and surrealism which a number of local artists have used.

Shao Hua’s work is notable for the originality of his compositions, his employment of confusing scale, his restrained use of colour and his diverse and extremely competent paint handling. Although a few of his paintings verge upon abstraction, in the main they are figurative. We see people in a range of settings: open fields, huge halls, crumbling barns, on roughly assembled platforms and small stages, or crouching in nests of junk. Shao Hua’s people all seem to be in some kind of trance, bewildered by or resigned to their situations. They may be seated around a table or gathered in groups. Some may be imbedded in tangled debris, or just standing in isolation. In the one painting they may be depicted at normal size, but accompanied by tine doll-like figures. Elsewhere these tiny figures are seen as if they are far away in the distance, but this distance is impossible because it forms part of a foreground construction.

Shao Hua‘s working method is to lay in a background of thinned paint with broad sweeps of the brush and them to develop his complex imagery over this with scraping and overpainting, utilising the slow-drying quality of oils. The background is usually not worked upon much beyond its initial creation, so in the finished paintings there is a sense of the imagery being packed into the centre. In his best works this centre is crowded indeed, like an old farm shed into which everything possible is crammed, including the farmer, his workers, and his neighbours. What we are seeing and what is happening is sometimes hard to work out. In such paintings the overall range of colours is usually restricted – to sombre blues, greens, greys, and browns. Shao Hua’s treatment of light is expressive – he lights some areas and darkens others. He prefers murky interiors and overcast skies to bright sunlight.

Shao Hua has developed a few symbols that re-appear in his work. There is the shaded electric light, hanging on its cord; the small brightly-lit windows high up in the wall, adding to the claustrophobic effect of his gloomy interiors; the twisted piles of spindly junk, the cylindrical metal mask worn by some of his figures; a man with his head thrown back, lit from below, old bicycles and dogs. Oddly, Shao Hua’s figures are still, whereas the other contents of his rickety structures seem to be thrashing about. If there is any affinity for past art it would be with that of Hieronymus Bosch, but it is only a tenuous link. Bosch’s canvases are filled with frantic, often gruesome activity and are meticulously detailed. Shao Hua’s scenes are still and loosely painted. There is no gratuitous violence – although now and again he tastefully portrays explicit eroticism.

Like all good art, Shao Hua’s repays extended and repeated viewing. Small details previously overlooked will appear; new painterly effects will be noticed. His works leave the viewer puzzled and disturbed. These are important paintings for the present and the future.

– Warwick Brown, New Zealand Art Collector and Author, June 2017

Artist Statement

“Experience is not creation, it is accessible to all. Art works are independent worlds, and the birth of each work is a creative miracle. My works are coincidental, subconscious, meditative, and fervently passionate. Some of the recent ones are titled, “Anonymous Night”, “Anonymous Mountain”, and “Anonymous Afternoon” which are aimed to detach the works from specific places, people, and times, making them broader and more fluid, giving the audience more room for interpretation. These works are not mere reflections of my life experience nor sketches of my visual experience – simple presentations and expressions like that would make the works straightforward and narrow. I think there must be more information and ideas behind every good painting, through which the audience can feel the excitement of the painter, facing the canvas, full of the desire to speak and articulate.”


Michael Downs, Australian artist and art critic, discovered Nong in 2015 when he was living in Beijing,

“Although my Chinese is very poor and his English nonexistent, he took me on a tour of the paintings. I was stunned. Every one was amazing. I had never seen anything quite like it in China. There are thousands of artists in the area, almost all trained in the otherwise excellent Academy of Fine Art system. NSH is self-taught but possesses enormous skill, honed from many years of drawing people and places in his home province. Few artists would have the patience of NSH; they would be thinking of fast tracking their careers by promotional strategies and networking and pushing each new painting into the gallery scene. NSH had none of that intent. His output has been put together for deeply personal reasons and his themes are completely unaffected by fashion or style.”

Brian Wallace, The Founder of Red Gate Gallery Beijing, the first private contemporary art gallery to be established in China in 1991, introduced Nong onto a world stage.

“He had arrived here (Beijing) in his mid-fifties after the raw and poor life of working around the coal mines of Shanxi Province, and selling tickets on trains. On these trains, he had time to take up drawing, which progressed to painting. His work depicts a theatre of life experience in the grime of coal country, all those backyards along the train tracks full of used trappings of a rougher road to survival. Disproportionate stage sets spewed forth a motley lot of characters, dogs and donkeys on a background punctuated by dim lights swinging from constantly changing ceilings. His work appeals to a worldwide audience.”

Daily Fantasy: Nong Shao Hua and His Art

Before moving to Songzhuang, Beijing and settling in a studio in 2010, Nong Shaohua had several jobs in Shanxi Province, where he was born and grew up. Nong worked maintaining boilers and cleaning trains and never engaged in any formal academic art study. Instead Nong explored his own way of painting. Decrepit bikes, leaf covered country roads, a voyeuristic man leaning against a wall, a chicken wandering on a roof. Nong’s unique montage like organization of these ordinary, seemingly insignificant aspects of his paintings reveal to us the indeterminate plot, subtle symbols, and humorous irony that marks his work.

Nong Shaohua says his inspiration comes mainly from meditating, and that he is also influenced by the random and accidental in everyday life. He also draws some influences from film. On looking at his paintings it is clear that he intentionally avoids presenting a clear cultural identity, and similarly avoids topics linked to current events and happenings. This is clear from the ways in which Nong often obscures the individuality of the characters in his paintings, as well as their social status, cultural backgrounds and even genders. He ultimately creates his own worlds within his paintings, one which is fantastical in its detachment from the real world. His canvases are not marked by some traditional Chinese painting style, nor are they comfortably viewed and understood with reference to Western, or ancient, or even contemporary artistic techniques and subjects. For example, his paintings are often not constrained by traditional rules of perspective.

In all of this Nong Shaohua is able to present a surreal and dreamlike world, both in form, technique, and subject. Nong hopes that his paintings are accessible and that no matter where his audiences come from and regardless of their cultural background they are able to read the montages he presents, become lost in their plots, and feel their varied emotions, from depression and sadness to happiness and cheerfulness.

– Chen Hong Han, Art Critic