Group of white paintings
Chong Shen, Untitled, 2022, oil on canvas.

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‘My painting is not limited at all. I have many possibilities, in terms of approach. And the reason I have that is because I’m not limited by a certain narrative that I want to get across. There’s no symbolism or story that I need to tell or some kind of political project that I might want to do. I’m not limited by any of that. I don’t have any of those things to stop me from experimenting and going forward.’

(Robert Ryman: Possibilities | Art21 ‘Extended Play’ n.d.)

White is the most superficial colour, and it is also the sum of all the existing colours. Through painting, sketching, mixing paint with a different kind of medium and photographing from different lighting, and installing my work in a specific way, it shows all kinds of possibilities a single colour can make in all forms. White, from one thing to everything everywhere. White also means a lot to me, I was suffering from Major Depressive Disorder for three years until last year. At that time I felt darkness around me almost every day. After I almost recovered, I found that life is so beautiful and full of hopes. I started to view thing differently. Everyday the lights are so bright so white it makes me feel that there are so many possibilities and surprise in the future. I wonder what beautiful things might happen tomorrow. I feel reborn, back to a white paper/canvas again.

‘White is associated with light, goodness, innocence, and purity.  It is considered to be the colour of perfection, means safety, purity, and cleanliness. As opposed to black, white usually has a positive connotation. It can represent a successful beginning.’ (Cerrato, 2012)

My research engages with ideas relating to possibilities, with only single colour (white) and a single tool (palette knife) to experiment and discover all the possibilities I can find and generate from the unlimited possibilities within the limited time.



The forms, processes, and materials I will explore include the oil colours titanium white and zinc white, a palette knife single medium (Liquin) and ninety-nine canvas ranging in size from 5cm x 5cm to 36cm x 36cm.

Ninety-nine pieces done turns to 100, a second 0, which means a new beginning, for another set of work of keep experimenting, discovering, and exploring new possibilities from the unlimited possibilities. Ad Reinhardt and Robert Ryman demonstrate to me the possibility they have discovered. It is not just a project, and it’s what I will keep doing for a very long time. I am interested in working within very tight, specific creative restraints. However finding within that a maximum variation of form.


  • To work within a limited source of materials and aesthetic values.

Inspiration and ideas should never run out for an artist, whether the artist begins with a beautiful natural forest or in a tiny dark room. Artist Akira Akira got inspired by a roll-on deodorant bottle, and brought the idea into the studio. (Embodied Practice, Experience and Intuition Akira Akira 2012 n.d.)

  • To gain the ability of generating a whole new look of something by just shifting it by a tiny bit.
  • To work within a generative, experimental process that sticks within these restrains, whereby each work made informs the next.

To discover and experiment with as many possibilities as I can create with white colour. Combine all the techniques in a comfortable form that will not make the audience feel a sense of incongruity in the art pieces, then install all the pieces in a suitable way that is best for the audience. I want the audience to realise and feel all the possibilities that surround the piece, because ‘what you see is what you see’ (With Artist Frank Stella, What You See Is What You See n.d.). White paintings are a fascinating kind of Rorschach test. They offer viewers a canvas to project their own interpretation, emotions. believes, and stories onto. So if looking at a white painting makes you feel angry or excited or soothed, those are all valid responses. (Why these all-white paintings are in museums and mine aren’t, 2017)

To mesmerise and record the feeling of difference in all texture, shapes, marks, thickness, and lighting of all the works I created. To allow the memory of touch and technique in all texture, shapes, marks etc.


I will explore paint and medium. In particular. I will be looking at:

Experimenting with different effects of different mediums on the colour white. Will the white be different? Will it affect the lighting? Certain shapes and marks can only be created on certain thickness of the paint. Different ratios of the paint and medium can create different shapes. Different parts of the palette knife can create different marks and shapes. Experimenting and practising on canvases over and over again can lead to learning the specific way to create specific shapes and marks.

Lighting research:

There is a difference between marks and shapes when it comes in thickness on the canvas. Therefore, lighting creates shadows.

Installation research:

I plan to set up my artworks in a corner, from the floor to the wall. I want to display my work this way because a large percentage of my work comes in pairs. So viewing both of them from the same spot can generate a special effect.


A varied body of work that will include:

  • Ninety-nine canvases comes in different sizes from 5cm x 5cm to 36cm x 36cm.


painting in Stuodio
Chong Shen painting in RMIT studio.
oil on canvas
Chong Painting in RMIT studio.
painting in the studio
Chong painting in RMIT studio.
painting at home
Chong shen painting in his home studio.


oil on canvas
Chong Shen, Untitled, 2022, oil on canvas, 5cm x 7cm.
oil on canvas
Chong Shen, Untitled, 2022, oil on canvas.
oil on canvas
Chong Shen, Untitled, 2018, oil on canvas.
oil on canvas
Chong Shen, Untitled, 2022, oil on canvas, 5cm x 7cm.
oil on cancas
Chong Shen, Untitled, 2022, oil on canvas, 5cm x 7cm.
oil on wooden board
Chong Shen, Untitled, 2022, oil on wooden board, 7cm x 12cm.
oil on canvas
Chong Shen, Untitled, 2022, oil on canvas.


Guancong Shen (Chong) (b.1993)

An artist and student studying in RMIT. Born in China. Was learning Chinese traditional painting. Moved to Melbourne in 2008 at age of 14. Raised in both Eastern and Western cultures. Mainly focused on works of abstraction. Due to growing up in different cultures, part of his work contains lots of colours smashed together. He defines that’s the way to fit different cultures together. In part of his work he refused to use other colour other than white, it means REBORN for him after he recovered from MDD. He believes emotion drives his inspiration. When certain emotion comes he will paint right away with that emotion and transfer it on to the canvas.

Acknowledgements (artists that inspired me during the project):

Kazimir Malevich, Ad Reinhardt, Agnes Martin, Jo Baer, Josef Albers, Robert Ryman, Ludovic Philippon, Ed Hall, Ewa Matyja, Peter Krauskopf, Kippi Leonard, Jean Philippe, Akira Akira, Liisa liiva, Danujela Knezevic, Vakeria Di santo.


Robert Ryman: Possibilities | Art21 ‘Extended Play’ n.d.,, viewed 30 September 2022, <>.

Embodied Practice, Experience and Intuition Akira Akira 2012 n.d., viewed 30 September 2022, <>.

With Artist Frank Stella, What You See Is What You See n.d.,

Cerrato, H 2012, The Meaning of Colors

Why these all-white paintings are in museums and mine aren’t 2017, YouTube.

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Guancong Shen (CHONG)