Tell us about your practice.
My paintings are autobiographical; they depict the compartmentalized environments that I live in and explore my emotional connection with domestic themes. As an artist who has lived abroad for many years, my works reflect the experience of residing in a transient state and raise questions about the meaning of home.
How did you come to portray still life as a practice?
I have a very sensitive personality and usually pay a lot of attention to the details of my surroundings. Those seemingly shattered moments are like the “creases” in our routine. They may be difficult to notice, but they are just as important as the highlights of our day. This is why painting is such a powerful medium for me — it allows me to capture and prolong these fleeting moments, granting them the attention and significance they deserve. The objects portrayed in my paintings must be those I have touched or that have lived in my memory for a significant period. I want to be extremely close to my work and make them tangible and sincere.
There is such a tangible and palpable sense of melancholy within your work, can you elaborate on that notion?
For a long time, many scenes depicted in my paintings are inspired by random encounters. I found satisfaction in these artworks as they effectively captured moments of serendipity. However, they were almost all about romanticizing the bitterness in daily life – painting sad plants or lonely corners which no one would pay attention to and making a tribute to humble happiness. It can be a nice pretty painting to be hung in the living room, but I wanted more from my work.
In the past two years, there were a few moments when I felt what I was doing was meaningless. I questioned and doubted the privilege that allowed me to paint pretty images. It was also those moments of confession that made me cautious about the beautiful appearance of my painting, and not to be fooled by the sweetness and lusciousness. There are a lot of unbearable events happening every day, and it is a relief to be able to paint as if I can take action to fight against the inability to make any real change.
In your last body of work, you are trying to celebrate the mundane by portraying them as something extraordinary. Can you tell us the thought behind them?
It’s a conscious decision to pay attention to the mundane. I try to make the paintings to be as close to the physical world I am living in while remaining a certain distance. They are close enough for me to recall the feeling of being in that space and being next to these objects. A certain distance is also important for the paintings to avoid becoming mere imitations or mere presences. Then the process of painting becomes finding the nuance of resolution, focus, and position in reality. The non-fictional depiction of the accessible surroundings highlights the sensibility to notice the nuances of expression we often overlook, and I hope they can be the humble enchantments of my days. However, being sensitive can be painful. Painting is a practice to process the melancholy that comes from the disconnection in the present and the allergy to the past.
What has been inspiring you lately?
There are many painters whom I often look at and admire, but upon careful reading and research, I realized that the ones who truly inspire me and to whom I find myself returning frequently are all female artists. Some notable examples include Catherine Murphy, Jennifer Bartlett, Vija Celmins, and Sylvia Plimack Mangold.
What’s next for you?
I’m thrilled to share that I will be having a solo show at Mou Projects in Hong Kong this October. It will be the first show taking place near the city where I grew up, and it will also be the first time my parents will be able to attend the opening and see the show in person. I am also working on a sculptural mixed-media piece for the show, and I can’t wait to share everything later this year.