Steeped in the study of classical Chinese literature and calligraphy, it is only natural that the works of Hong Zhu An demonstrate a profound sense of classicism which is made relevant to the contemporary audience by Hong's witty execution and unique interpretation. The simplicity of lines and forms and more specifically the vast space reserved by the artist concur with the minimalistic principle of the late Ming dynasty artist Bada Shanren (1626-1705).
The Chinese classical painter who was from the class of the ruling nobility of the Zhu family witnessed the decline of the Ming dynasty and its eventual downfall which resulted in the start of the Qing dynasty. Bada Shanren's family background and the political environment exposed the artist to bitter and difficult conditions which the artist sought to express through his calligraphy and pictorial images. Fish, bamboo and plum blossom were recurrent themes as they embodied both cultural and literary significances whose manoeuvrability permitted the artist's sentiments to be powerfully and effectively conveyed.
The characteristic which Hong identifies greatly with Bada Shanren is the use of slight distortion of conventional forms which reducing them to a primordial state of primitivism. The presentation of forms in their seemingly raw and unrefined states are further enhanced by the Chinese artistic style of 'preserving the whites' which basically entails the reservation of empty space leaving the image starkingly undisturbed.
While the affiliation between Hong and Bada Shanren is apparent, Hong's ingenuity is revealed through his own innovative use of the layering of colours with a richness and variability that constantly amazes his viewers. What the artist wants to achieve primarily is to grant a narrative power to his images which would engage the viewers and leave them contemplating and reflective.