AIRLIE WARD: Hobart based artist Chen Ping has earned a solid reputation here and interstate for his interpretation of the Tasmanian landscape but the Chinese-born painter told Sally Glaetzer he's now switched his attention away from landscapes and is preparing for an ambitious figurative exhibition in his home country.
CHEN PING, ARTIST: Painting is not just an interesting exercise. To me, it's about experience, a relationship with life. It's about humanity, it's about human story.
SALLY GLAETZER: Chen Ping moved to Hobart a decade ago and like many artists, he fell in love with the Tasmanian landscape. The ever-changing Mt Wellington is still a constant source of inspiration.
What is it that attracts you to Mt Wellington? Is it the fact it changes so often?
CHEN PING: Yes, sometimes I could just stay there watch the mountain for a long, long time and see the change, you know. And you know, it's just amazing.
SALLY GLAETZER: While Ping's receipt exhibition in Sydney of his Tasmanian landscapes was popular with gallery-goers, his latest show may prove more confronting. His focus is the self-destructive nature of modern society.
CHEN PING: It's my intention to see how the integrity and innocence survives in a hostile environment.
SALLY GLAETZER: Ping has found himself inspire by recent news articles. As a father, he was immediately grabbed by the story of the three-year-old New Zealand girl abandoned at a Melbourne train station.
CHEN PING: I went to the cafe to have my early morning coffee and I read the newspaper and I saw this news and I almost broke into tears. And then I got the newspaper and forgot to do the other subject, I just went straight to do this painting.
SALLY GLAETZER: Next year, Ping will return to China, where he's been accepted into a residency program at Beijing's Red Gate Gallery.
Over three months, he'll produce 100 large paintings based on news images. It will be the most significant show in his home country and vastly removed from the realist training he received in China in the 1980s.
While the Chinese Government still keeps a close watch on artists, the Red Gate Gallery has earned a reputation for exhibitions that provide a commentary on politics and society.
Ping says his works will be challenging for himself and his viewers.
CHEN PING: At the end of the day, you don't want to become a comfortable artist, you want to make some statement through your work, especially when you go to international city like Beijing.
SALLY GLAETZER: Ping has produced more than 10 solo exhibitions since completing his second fine arts degree. He describes his style as figurative rather than abstract but welcomes individual takes on his work.
CHEN PING: People can have their own interpretation to my work.
SALLY GLAETZER: Is it often quite often different to your original intention?
CHEN PING: Yeah. Yeah, people always, you know, come to say to me, "I see this and this in your painting." Well, normally it's where I started, but I don't have problem with that.