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Print (MA)

Pengpeng Chen

 Born Wuhan, China 


2012 BFA, Emily Carr University of Art and
Design, Vancouver, BC, Canada 

2020 MA Print, Royal College of Art, London.



2020 Against the Grain, London, U.K.  

2019 18ththe Lessedra World Art Print Annual, Sofia, Bulgaria 

2012 GradExhibition, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Vancouver, BC, Canada 

2011 ECU and AAI Print Media Exchange Program, Vancouver and Edmonton, Canada 

2008 Group Show, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Vancouver, BC, Canada 

2007 Mythology Today, Coquitlam, BC, Canada  


Pengpeng Chen Personal Website

Degree Details

School of Arts & Humanities

Print (MA)

I always trapped myself in a paradoxical mood between being and not being. I always fall into the gap between the consciousness of artistic creation and unconsciousness of inner impulse. I attempt to find a fine balance among intangible artistic perception, tangible materiality, a rational art-making method, and an irrational making process. My art practice is mainly forced on printmaking, and this pathway requires understanding of fixed making procedures in order to create the ideal image. However, during the making process, I still try to break the boundary of this traditional code. 

I am interested in stories from Taoism that related my project to a Taoist story of “Zhuang Zhou Dreams of Being a Butterfly”. This story illustrates an image of Zhuangzi wondering if he was a man who dreamed of being a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming of being a man is so striking that whole dramas have been
written on its theme. There is a transformation from human figure to object(butterfly), and a blurring boundary between dream and reality. I was also inspired by Jorge Luis Borges’s article The Circular Ruins, I found the blurring boundary between reality and imagination in this article is also very interesting. Writers could illustrate this duality of reality and dream through texts. My question is: as an image-
maker, can I capture this blurring sensation between reality and phantom apparitions. In this project I attempt to treat the virtual image as new physical materials, and explore the sensations of fragmentary views and the duality between stillness and movement. Butterflies and oceanic movement become motifs of dreams. I would consider this is a documentary of dreams, rather than an illustration of dreams.


Moving Image


one minute
BlurryConceptualDigital ArtDreamsFantasy And The SurrealIllusionMoving imageprintmakingSurreal

Book 2020 03

Book 2020 02

Book 2020 04

Book 2020 01

She came from ocean,
Exuded the smell of salt.
She became the scent of the ocean,
Compelled to drift like the wind.
Compelled like the wind,
She came from the ocean.
Like vapour in the wind,
She came from the ocean.
Uttering about travelling for a very long time,
Passing many lighthouses.
There is no way home,
So better to be the wind…..


Digital print and screen print on Japanese paper


10.4x14.8 cm

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Finding a subtle balance between being in control of artistic perception and losing control of artistic approach is my pursuit. Perhaps, the act of losing control is not the opposition of being in control, but it is the extension of being in control. The sense of unknowing retains a certain awareness of cognition, the emptiness remains conscious through contemplation, and one’s dream-work always relates to one’s reality. Hence, an artwork that seems purely abstract with dramatic motions might conceal the artist’s unspoken desire.


Silkscreen print on black Somerset paper.


180x 80 cm


Woodblock print on Japanese paper


40x30 cm


Wood block print on Japanese paper


46x32 cm

I expect my project could perform this transformation of being and not being, and create a translucent visual illusion to viewers. I captured oceanic movements in the moving image. This preference for making art in this way could be derived from my childhood memory and life experiences. I grew up beside the Yangzi River, moved to the west coast of the Pacific Ocean, and then migrated along the River Thames. Water streams into my mind, memories, and my sub-consciousness. This sub-consciousness of flowing motion reflects my dreams, and the freely fluent abstraction is constructed through my dream-work. According to Freud, the dream itself is ineffable, but the thought of a dream is formed through dream-work. He points out that ‘at the bottom, dreams are nothing other than a particular form of thinking. It is the dream-work which creates that form.’ (Freud, 2006, p.62) Therefore, my notion of being and not being is derived from my life experiences, those experiences became a sub-conscious desire that was embedded into my dream, and the abstract shape of freedom was deconstructed and reconstructed via dream-work, and reflected in my art practice through a translucent platform.


Etching with aquatint print on Somerset paper



In this project, I was inspired by Freud’s notion of the dream fragment; he declares that we remember only fragments of a dream and fill in the rest of the story. He also points out that:

"Partial forgetting is treacherous: for, if one then starts to recount what has not been forgotten, one is likely to supplement from the imagination the incoherent and disjointed fragments provided by the memory […] Unconsciously one becomes an artist, and the story, repeated from time to time, imposes itself on the belief of its author, who, in good faith, tells it as authentic fact, regularly established according to proper methods."

Thus, there must be a paradox between presence and absence in order to capture the sensorial nature of a dream; a contradictory image combines fragmentary space and empty space in order to represent the perception of a dream.


Etching with aquatint print on Japanese paper



Even though the pictorial outcome of my work could be described as an abstraction without any context of illustration or narrative sense, the subject matter that I do try to capture in my art practice is the feeling of dreams. How could we describe our dreams? We could neither accurately describe the feeling of dreams in any word, nor capture the complete scenario of a dream in any representational method. Dreams perform themselves in a fragmentary and fragile form.


Silkscreen print on Somerset paper




Photoetching print on Somerset paper


80x64 cm

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