Zhaohan Wang

“In everybody’s life there’s a point of no return. And when we reach that point, all we can do is quietly accept the fact. That’s how we survive.”
                                                                      ― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore







I was sixteen. That was the first time I felt fate. Life basically only left one way ahead of me, so I went along, to a desert city in Southern California. Standing in a place with no buildings, filled with palm trees. This was where my fantasy of America shattered.  

The whole time I spent in the desert, I waited to get out of there. There were just so many things I couldn’t understand and process. I was tired of being an outsider, the boring life that seemed to never end, and the lack of freedom in a place where I did not belong. I was so young, I didn’t know what to do, so I choose to hate the life in desert. I convinced myself that I was just waiting, waiting to get out of there. Like the wings’ song “Band On The Run”, which I played repeatedly in my car. Paul McCartney keeps singing “if I ever get out of here…”, palm trees filled my eyes, and I thought, yeah, if I ever got out of here. 

For three years, I waited to go back to China for the summer breaks, I waited to go to college. Every second, I feel the wait in my body. No matter what I did, what I saw, whatever happy moments I had with my friends, I still felt the wait in my body all the time. It blended with hatred and kept shouting at me: you don’t like the life in here, you don’t belong here, you are just waiting, waiting for it to pass.

While everyone else sees the desert as a world-famous vacation attraction, I saw it as the most boring and miserable place in the world. When I found friends, even they turned out to be my best friends for life, I only thought we were suffering together, to wait for this to an end. I thought, yes, we had fun, but still, just some small happy moments under the big picture of our desperate desert life.

I never fully enjoyed a single moment in the desert.

Once I left, I paid the price, for the hating, the neglecting, and the waiting. I felt so much regret over the things I should have cherished but I didn’t. Sometimes, I go through old pictures on my phone and wanted to ask myself why, why couldn’t I be happy with all the best people by my side every single day, in a place that is special and beautiful, doing things that all could be called an interesting experience now. Waiting is passive, it is an action that totally depends on something else or someone else rather than myself. It exhausted and obstructed me from seeing so many beautiful, positive, and good things.

So I don’t wait anymore.









The second time I felt fate, is art. Entering college, I never planned to become a painter. Although I always love art, I just never thought it was “safe” to go that way. But in my freshman year, I felt the whole universe is pushing me toward that direction. This time, I embraced it and decided to be a painter.

For me, painting, drawing, and making art is all about feeling and asking. I am constantly questioning our existence in this world. I keep wondering why am I here, how did I become who I am, why are we here, and how did we become who we are. I have too many questions that probably could never be answered. So I ask them through my art, to comfort my curiosity. My art expresses my confusion, uncertainty, and powerlessness towards reality and social constructions. The content of my art could not be generalized on a subject level, rather, it is connected with the emotional reaction of my own experience as I grow in this world. It is fluid, always changing depends on my encounters. As much as they are personally important to me, I also want to create an experience for my viewers, produce artworks that could be relatable and comforting. Here I present two series of paintings to discuss in detail.



“everything is the same but it’s not”


oil on canvas, 44 x 56, 2020




oil on canvas, 24 x 36, 2020



gouache on paper, 4.5 x 6, 2020



oil on canvas, 30 x 40, 2020



The painting series “everything is the same but it’s not” is my reaction toward the pandemic that we are all in right now. During quarantine in march, I suddenly fascinated by all the window view of my apartment. The sunlight, shadow, trees, and the emptiness of the spaces attract me. In those paintings, I try to incorporate the beautiful scene I see with the my emotions caused by the Covid19 situation. Not only dealing with all the restrictions, but also reflecting on my own atitute toward things in life, questioning myself what things actually took for granted before covid, and telling myself to be more appreciated toward them.



“before you go”


gouache on paper, 6 x 8, 2020



gouache on paper, 7 x 11, 2020



gouache on paper, 8 x 12, 2020


“before you go” is a series that expresses my emotion and powerlessness toward separation. These paintings describe some daily and ordinary scenes of a group of people who have been tightly connected for years, right before going into new, different directions. These painting are the reaction of changes and movements in life. They also give me a space to think about the relationship of us with others, how important those relationships are while they are so fragile and limited by reality.










something sacred…/


















































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Zhaohan Wang by Timea Tihanyi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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