“To make these paintings, the mind and soul must be in the calmest condition. It is like nirvana in Buddhism.”

Born 1978, Pingtung, Taiwan. Lives and works in Pingtung

Chou Chu-Wang grew up in the countryside of southern Taiwan, where he still lives. As a child, he collected duck and goose eggs on the family farm, a daily chore that made him observant, careful and extraordinarily patient. He brings those qualities, and a love of simple nature, to his art. Using a fine calligraphic brush, he builds up exquisitely detailed close-ups of stones, rocks and sand, one dot or circular flick at a time. The process is slow, but time is part of his theme—as titles like The Hours (2015) suggest. Rocks are transformed into sand by time, and time transforms his minuscule paint specks into realistic rocks and sand: one square metre takes him around 42 days to complete. These painstakingly accreted images of nature’s humblest elements embody Blake’s phrase “the world in a grain of sand, eternity in an hour”. The results can be viewed as miniature landscape paintings, but they also have spiritual force. The stones at the centre of the Four Bliss Stones (2014) evoke gandangs, slabs of stone stuck to house walls to ward off bad spirits; the group at the centre of The Hours calls to mind Tibetan mani, small piles of stones used to mark sacred sites.

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