55 CANCRI E: Featuring Yalan Chen

Yalan Chan


Universal Consciousness

Oil and Acrylic on Canvas



This blog post was provided by Yalan Chen as part of the We Bleed the Same Masterclass program. The WBTS Masterclasses brought together seven outstanding ANU students to learn about how art can be used as part of a campaign against racism. The Masterclass launched these artworks at the 55 CANCRI E Exhibition in Novemeber 2022.



31 is the last day of a month, preparing for a new beginning and new understanding into the next phase.

31 collects the highest energy of the past in preparing for a new beginning.


Artist's Statement

‘We all bleed the same.’

‘We are interconnected as One.’

‘All things and beings are created equally by the Universe.’

During my research process on the automatism technique this year, I produced an accidental research painting (right panel) that addressed my inner questioning from the unconscious mind regarding the human and nature relationship. I expanded this painting into a two-panel work providing the concept of the visible and the invisible, the external and the internal, the physical and the spiritual, reflecting our three-dimensional Universe on a two-dimensional surface that shared my thinking on human relationships with each other and the Universe.

My practice was influenced by psychoanalysis theory, universe consciousness philosophy, Taoism theory, deep ecology theory and Symbiocene philosophy. The automatism technique refers to painting unconsciously. I prepared myself into a meditative state and allowed the brush to travel freely on canvas without being conscious of my thoughts. Chinese Taoism describes this process as ‘Tian Ren He Yi’ (天人合一). It means nature and humans combined as one.

In universal consciousness theory, this process is described as merging one’s unconsciousness with the universal consciousness and creating the present moment with the Universe. After finishing the process, I realised I had produced a painting of colourful fragments. All the fragments were interconnected by the invisible space (negative space) on the canvas. The composition was naturally in balance, and this is due to the participation of nature’s force in the painting process. Even though all fragments produced have different appearances, they were all created from the unconscious mind without distinguished intentions.

Reflecting this concept onto our three-dimensional world, perhaps all things and beings are physical fragments manifested from the unconscious mind of the Universe. Taoism theory and American theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss said, “The Universe came from nothingness.” We were all created from the pure unconsciousness of the Universe. Even though each of us is unique and different externally, we all receive an equal creative essence from the Universe. We have other external appearances, but we all bleed the same. It is easy for us to concentrate on viewing the colourful fragments but overlook the negative space that connects all the fragments. In our three-dimensional world, we are also interconnected by the invisible space as one Universe. “How should we develop a relationship differently if we are all together as one?” Through my interpretation of this painting, I share my thinking that all things and beings are created equally and are interconnected as one. I hope that my art work will encourage people to slow down and re-think their relationship with each other and with the Universe, and recognise our limitations in thinking and move towards a more tolerant, communicative and mutually nurturing society.


Yalan Chen was born in Fujian, China, and arrived in Australia in 2005. She spent equal time living in both Eastern and Western cultures, 17 years in both. Yalan currently lives and practices as an artist in Ngunnawal Country, Canberra, Australia. She is studying for a Master of Contemporary Art Practices at the Australian National University (ANU) School of Art and Design. Yalan completed a Bachelor of Fine Art (Painting) from National Art School, Sydney. She was awarded the First Prize at the 2022 ANU Student Research Conference by presenting practice-led research paintings on healing human and nature alienation. She presented her research at the Australasia Council of Undergraduate Research Conference at the University of Sydney in September 2022 and was selected as one of the 2022 School of Art and Design Drawing Prize finalists. Yalan is an exhibiting artist at Clyde & Co Art Award in Sydney.

Yalan enrolled in the ‘We Bleed The Same’ Master Classes because she felt frustrated observing people developing destructive conflicts towards each other due to cultural differences and misunderstandings. By growing up and living in both Eastern and Western cultures, Yalan understands the difference in thinking framework and ways of life between the two cultures. Participating in the ‘We Bleed The Same’ Master Classes gave Yalan the platform to produce a new painting, “I wanted to help break down limitations in human thinking and contribute to shifting the world into a new beginning that is harmonious and mutually nurturing.”

Image gallery


Updated:  30 March 2023/Responsible Officer:  Freilich Project/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications