Sumptuously painted in a technique consisting of painterly drips and splatters held in check by subtly controlled washes of glaze and exacting trompe l'oeil objects, Kong Ho's recent spiritual paintings exemplify the theme and style indicative of his most recent body of work, the "Spiral Series." This series evolved out of a 2002 transitional painting entitled Beauty of Complexity.
Although Ho used the nautilus shell and the Chinese ancient jade disc "Pi" in his early paintings, he has revived his use of these objects and given them a more contemporary feel though his use of a contrasting complementary color scheme. In his recent "Spiral Series," Further, Buddhist iconographies, such as lotus petals and statues, along with floating marbles, flying clouds, and leaf-like boat hulls, have been major motifs in his recent work. He has created an asymmetrical composition by offsetting the circular shapes of the primarily spiral nautilus shell and the Chinese jade disc form against the angular edges of the squared off canvas and the organic forms of the Buddhist symbols. Further interest is added to the composition through the articulation of the segments of the nautilus shell, the outlines of the carving motif on the jade disc, and the elements of the Buddhist motifs. He achieves a feeling of dramatic motion by obliterating portions of his ornately patterned objects by merging them with a background of sweeping DNA-like ribbons, waving flower petals, swinging waves, burning smokes, and floating clouds. Rhythmic movement is created from a simultaneous growth and dissolution of realistic objects such as shell, jade, lotus, and Buddhist statue with the expressive painterly background.
The intense and complex multi-layering of symbolic images with non-objective passages of splashes and strokes in this series create a dynamic and almost vibrating surface that is a paradox of contrasts between order and disorder and an abundance of color that is energized with interlocking patterns and textures. A sense of fundamental transformation for which no beginning and end can be discovered evolves from this series. Contrasting colors with spontaneous splashing and dripping marks, and precisely rendered floating marbles and circular dark holes or pixel-like squares, add to the feeling of engagement with rather than separation from Ho's lived experience of Eastern and Western cultures and transcendental belief in Taoism and Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism.
Life is full of contradictions and so is art. Just as with everything else in life, the images in Ho's art appear to have fluid meanings and even to take on different physical characteristics when one looks carefully at the structure of the work and contemplates the image as a whole. On one level, his paintings can also be considered visual interpretations of Tao, the order of nature, and Buddhist spiritual enlightenment because his paintings reflect the spirit or essence of the Taoist/Buddhist belief that exists a harmonious wholeness and eternal order that connects human beings to nature and to the Ying and Yang forces that govern the universe.