Early Works

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A many-layered thing

In the beginning…

The other day, while putting together my presentation for the Surrey Art Gallery, I came across some old photos that I had taken of a couple of my self-portrait paintings in progress. I thought it would be interesting to share some of the photos as I actually forgot that this was how I had created the image. My painting, The Return Home, was started in late 2006 and finished in 2007. I had begun the painting in London and brought it back with me to Vancouver. The trip to Vancouver had not actually been a planned permanent return, but it ended up being one, so I finished the painting in Vancouver.

Roselina #1

I had been given a piece of oak to try painting on, and taking the size of the panel into consideration, I decided I wanted to create a double self-portrait. I was working with some photographs I had taken, and I had been torn about whether or not I wanted to stay in London, so I had the idea of the double self and the two sides of me – being in two hearts about coming/going. It wasn’t until a few months later that I realized I was permanently home and would not be returning to London to live, and that was when the background for this image emerged.

Roselina #2

It was the year of the giant snow storm in Vancouver and a lot of the trees had fallen down from the early and unexpected snowfall. I felt like the fallen trees reflected how I was feeling at the time, rather dejected about my move back as I wasn’t ready yet to come home. The detailed Florentine pattern in the background was the first elaborate pattern I had painted and I remembered it being a painstaking process but well worth the effort. This was quite a big step forward in my practice, a major stepping stone to the detailed floral patterns now found in many of my pieces.

The knit of the sweater taking shape
The Return Home (2007)

Another image I dug up on my computer was this photo of the set up from my London studio when I was painting She Wanted To Do More Than Just Pass.

My London studio set up for small-scale paintings

It’s just a little sneak peek into how I was working at the time. This painting was the first part of my “return home”, painted months before I had to leave London, when I still didn’t know where I wanted to go next. It’s interesting to think of these two paintings as bookends to my decision.

She wanted to do more than just pass (2006)

These were some of the paintings that I talked about at the panel discussion at the Surrey Art Gallery this past weekend with Eryne Donahue and David Horvitz. I’d like to thank everyone who came out to the event, as well as Jordan Strom, the Surrey Art Gallery and the Contemporary Art Society Vancouver, for organizing the artist talks and reception. The exhibition, Scenes of Selves, Occasions for Ruses, is on until December 16th.

From off the dusty bookshelf

I was recently going through some old books that I had shipped back from London, when I first moved back to Vancouver in 2007.  They had been in storage this entire time and forgotten about on a dusty bookshelf.  Included in these books were some old sketchbooks from when I was doing my Masters degree and the couple of years after, when I was living in London.  I came across this sketch that I had completely forgotten about.  This was the original pencil study I made for my painting “She wanted to do more than just pass”, which I painted in 2006.

Sketch for "She wanted to do more than just pass" (2006)

I love finding old sketches and drawings…it’s a bit like unearthing a hidden treasure.

Loop: Revisiting the past

In my London studio (2005)
In my London studio (2005)

A running theme through my work is the past, whether it be recollections of memories, nostalgia or histories.

I met up with an old friend recently, and it got me thinking about how revisiting the past can be important in understanding our present.  This goes for life and also for my art, as I sometimes forget about certain paintings I did in the past, and it’s like unearthing a treasure when I find them again.  All the memories, thoughts and ideas that went into the artwork pop up again in my mind.  And then sometimes there is a sudden epiphany about where a “new” or current idea I am working on actually came from.

*****

Les Saltimbanques - Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso, Les Saltimbanques, 1901

In 2000, when I first arrived in Paris with my fellow UBC Fine Art classmate Jessica Gabriel, we found a postcard of Picasso’s “Les Saltimbanques”.  It is not one of his most famous paintings, so it is actually very hard to find the painting online or the proper title of it.  It was painted in 1901, with Picasso’s famous harlequin figure and his companion.  When Jessica and I first saw the postcard, we said, “That’s us!”, bought the postcard and then quickly forgot about it, with all the excitement of living abroad for the first time.

By the end of that year, after many highs and lows, our Paris adventure was coming to a close, and we thought it would be fitting to recreate the painting.  So with some art school creativity, we managed to pull together some towels and blankets and rummage through our closet and art supplies to recreate the look of the painting.  With a limitation of 24 shots on our roll of film, we were determined to recreate the painting in a photograph, but quickly got bored of that and well, here are the results:

Paris, France, 2001 - by Roselina Hung & Jessica Gabriel
Paris, France, 2001 - by Roselina Hung & Jessica Gabriel

After we returned to Vancouver, the series of photographs was exhibited once during our final year at UBC and then put away and forgotten about.  While I was working on my Painting Film exhibition, with my Art History series, I revisited this series of photographs and thought about the process of turning a painting into a photograph, or in this case a series of photographs, and I decided to paint the photograph and return it to a painting.  Here is a photo of the painting in my London studio.  Unfortunately I can’t find a photo of the finished painting on my computer at the moment, so this was a work in progress shot:

Les Echangeuses
Les Echangeuses, Oil on canvas, 60 x 90 cm, 2005

Jessica and I then revisited the idea in 2007, after I moved back from London and we were both in Vancouver again.  Some ideas were thrown around but nothing came from it.  I am almost positive that it will come up again in the future, and new work will spring from the past.

Three Generations

I was able to find photos of some older portraits of my sister, my mother, my grandmother and me.

Grace (The Pacific), Oil on canvas (2003)

Rosy (The Pacific), Oil on canvas (2003)
Portrait of My Mother, Oil on canvas (2004)
Paintings & photos of my grandmother, in my London studio (2007)

I think I will start posting more of my early works on this blog.  I was going through my files on my computer and found a lot of older works that I really like, but I’ve consciously chosen not to have them on my main website, just because the work is so different from what I’m doing now.  But I would still like to share the work with you so I’ll be posting more in the upcoming weeks.  It’s strange to think that I’ve been painting portraits with oils for 12 years now…!

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