Born in Guangdong, China, 1969
Lives and works in Melbourne
Love Birds, 2011
112 x 110 cm
Zhong Chen is an internationally renowned and collected artist, who now lives and paints in Australia. Zhong was born in Zhongshan in China, where he was raised by his mother and her extended family, while his father lived and worked in Hong Kong. As a small child, while his mother worked, he would entertain himself drawing. His first introduction to art was when a friend took him to into the Zhongshan Cultural Centre…Zhong was captivated, this was the beginning of his artist journey. With the economic reforms occurring in the 1970’s, China was beginning to open up to the West. As the tight communist control was starting to relax, individual pursuits such as art were now not seen as such a threat to the State. Zhong’s supporting family encouraged and supported him in his passion for art. When Zhong reached his teens, he began a formal education in the arts in Zhongshan. Zhong received a strong education in Chinese art concentrating on Chinese ink brush techniques as well as landscape and portraiture. Zhong continued his formal Chinese art education at Hubay School of Fine Arts, whilst continuously experimenting away from the traditional Chinese style back at home. Zhong became more interested in ‘Western’ art and longed to converse with western artists to have dialogue about their creative processes.
In 1988 Zhong was supported by his family to travel and study in Australia on the basis he must do a one year English course once he arrived. Zhong settled in Adelaide, South Australia and completed a bachelor of Arts degree with honours. Zhong very quickly found an empathy between Chinese and Australian cultures through their shared focus on the historical significance of landscape painting. The importance and acceptance of this genre of painting throughout the Australian art world gave Zhong the confidence to explore the subject of cultural and transcultural identity within a new environment. Zhong’s early work in 1996 “Stupid Laughing Series” explores the identity of people standing in landscapes that they may not originally belong in. Ordinary people in beautiful Australian landscapes whose vastness alone suggests isolation and possible alienation. As Zhong Chen’s work has evolved the formal brush strokes of traditional Chinese painting can always be seen. In 1997 Zhong won a Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship, which enabled him to travel and study at Chelsea College of Arts in London, where in 1998 he obtained a Master of Fine Arts. By now Zhong was experimenting at such as pace though still with the thoughts of depicting the artist, constantly exploring his own identity as well as trying to unravel the thought process of a western artist. His work evolved to a more photographic palette giving his painting a more realist appearance.
As Zhong travelled and absorbed new insights of culture and artistic influences, as well as further experimentation and fine homing of techniques, there was constant evolution of his work.
Famed for his expressive use of line, Malerba has been commissioned to complete prominent public art work situated in St Kilda, South Melbourne and Flemington. Malerba’s mark making is a feature within this highly successful artwork. Erotic Blur – his newest body of work, further explores the female form using a blurring technique. Forthright and expressive Malerba’s portrayals of the women he paints are confronting yet sensual.