Influences

Category

For My Grandmother

Pinky, Coloured pencil on paper, 11 x 14 in, 2013
Pinky, Coloured pencil on paper, 11 x 14 in, 2013

I’ve been waiting to show these drawings for about a year now. I first began this series of piggy drawings in late 2013 and continued into last year. I was originally going to exhibit them last year at Pendulum Gallery, but due to construction, the exhibition dates kept getting pushed back. I’m very happy to say that the show Now & Then will be opening next week.

These little piggy drawings are very special to me, as they’ve helped me deal with my grandmother’s dementia. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in late 2011, and it has been very difficult watching her illness progress. I wanted to do something that both honored my grandmother and also touched on the situation.

These Little Piggies, Coloured pencil on paper, 14 x 17 in, 2014
These Little Piggies, Coloured pencil on paper, 14 x 17 in, 2014

Growing up, I was always very close to my grandparents, and I was especially close to my grandmother. She always had an eclectic mix of knick knacks that she’d pick up from garage sales, flea markets and her little adventures she would take around the city. She was and still is a fiercely independent woman. But it wasn’t until she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s that I looked at all the figurines collected on the shelves of her wall and only then did I realize she had a huge collection of pig figurines. And she told me that over the years, she was always searching carefully to add to her collection. She displayed them neatly, grouped together on shelves and in display cases.

Piggyback, Coloured pencil on paper, 14 x 17 in, 2014
Piggyback, Coloured pencil on paper, 14 x 17 in, 2014

With the onset of her dementia, my grandmother felt a need to collect things and had begun to hoard. She had become obsessive. And it was at this time that I began working with my grandmother’s carefully curated collection of ceramic pigs and piggy banks. Her collection of pigs was assembled when collecting was still for pleasure. Through this drawing project, I now appreciate my grandmother’s selectiveness and curation of these trinkets. Something I didn’t realize or pay attention to when I was younger and wrote off as my kooky grandmother doing what grandmothers do. But she had her own purpose.

Piggies, Coloured pencil on paper, 18.25 x 24.25 in, 2014
Piggies, Coloured pencil on paper, 18.25 x 24.25 in, 2014

This work follows my on-going examination of memory and personal histories. Aside from their decorative purposes, the ceramic pigs, which included piggy banks and other piggy containers, also serve a practical means of collecting and storing things. Stacking the pigs up on each other, they precariously teeter and are on the edge of falling and breaking, rendered useless.

We collect memories throughout our lives, only to slowly lose them in the end.

***

I’ll be exhibiting these piggy drawings along with some paintings from my recent series Of Myth and Men, as well as never shown before drawings from my Rejected Memories series. The exhibition, Now & Then, will open next week at Pendulum Gallery in Vancouver. More details can be found here.

Now & Then revisits some of the highlights of Pendulum Gallery exhibitions from the past decade, marking a point at which then becomes the now and acknowledging the intersection between the gallery and a select number of artists. The show is structured as a series of five small overviews, and through the presentation of both newer and older works, it attempts to give a sense of each artists’ practice, allowing the viewer to appreciate developing themes and methodologies.

I will be exhibiting alongside Ross Kelly, Ewan McNeil, David Marshall and Bettina Matzkuhn.

Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah

This summer I had the pleasure of creating a portrait of my friend Heather. The painting was commissioned by her mother-in-law, who has been a great friend and supporter of my art since my early days in London. We had been planning this painting for quite some time now, and ideas had been exchanged over the past couple of years. When we finally settled on an idea, there was only one condition – the painting must include the newest addition to their family, Zippy the dog. I was more than happy to paint Zippy, especially as I’ve been including many animals in my paintings as of late. Also in keeping with my previous portrait commissions, I wanted to include a bit of art history in the work and once I knew the painting would be of both Heather and Zippy, my mind immediately went to Leonardo da Vinci’s The Lady with an Ermine.

Leonardo da Vinci - Lady with an Ermine, 1489–90
Leonardo da Vinci – The Lady with an Ermine, 1489–90

While I wanted to borrow from the past, I still wanted to keep the painting contemporary. There is something about the pose of the sitter in the original painting, Cecilia Gallerani, as well as the grace and poise that da Vinci painted her with. I saw something similar in the photos that Heather sent me to work from, and I wanted to have that transfer into my painting of her. And so I present to you, Heather and Zippy.

Roselina Hung - Heather & Zippy, Oil on linen on board, 2013
Roselina Hung – Heather & Zippy, Oil on linen on board, 8 x 10 in, 2013

For an interesting infographic about the secret symbols in the Leonardo painting, head to the Daily Mail website, which featured the painting in an article when it was exhibited in the National Gallery in London in 2011.

Have we met before? You look familiar.

Piero di Cosimo – Venus, Mars & Cupid (detail), c. 1486-1510

Pretty boys have been around for a long time, and I’ll be the first to say that I’m not the only artist out there working on this subject. I would like to think that I’m doing something different and unique with the idea, but I’m also just one in a long succession of artists that have chosen the pretty boy as a muse. Like I’ve mentioned in the past about my project, pretty boys kill me, I’m interested in the pretty boy in popular culture – and there is certainly no shortage of them in the media today – especially in the fashion and entertainment industries.

Raphael – Self-Portrait, 1506

A lot of my artwork is influenced by art history, and this project is no different.  Throughout art history, the pretty boy was a muse, depicted by mainly male artists, as angels, saints and gods, across all cultures.  Here is just a small selection of some of the artists and paintings that I’ve been influenced by over the years:

Left: Sandro Botticelli – Saint Sebastian, 1474; Right: Albrecht Durer – Adam, 1507
Caravaggio – Bacchus, 1595
Francois Gerard – Cupid & Psyche, 1798
John Singer Sargent – Study of a Young Man (detail)

One of the more contemporary artists that I’ve looked at, whose work I follow, is Elizabeth Peyton:

Elizabeth Peyton – Tony (Savoy), 1999
Elizabeth Peyton – Spencer (1999)

*** 

There are still 27 days left on my Indiegogo campaign, and again I’d like to thank everyone for their support. I’m more than half way to reaching my goal! If you haven’t had a chance to, please check out my campaign and read about my project and residency in Reykjavik, Iceland this September.

I could be yours for $200…

Pretty Boys Can Only Say So Much

Leftover letters from my stencil

Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone who has been so supportive of my Indiegogo campaign. Thank you for the contributions, sharing the link and spreading the word. I’ve still got just over 30 days to go!

So the idea for this series of drawings, pretty boys kill me, came to me while I was on my residency at Ox-Bow last fall. It was a bit of a light bulb over the head moment. I had been working on these patterned fabric scans and digitally overlaying text and I wanted to somehow do the same thing but carry it into my own practice of portraiture. But not just any portraits – I wanted to do portraits of pretty boys as a female artist, as they have mostly been subjects of male artists in the past. At first I thought about doing small paintings and creating a digital pattern from scans of the paintings, but that wasn’t enough. It didn’t have enough of an impact and wasn’t getting my idea across. And then, in my head, I thought to myself, “pretty boys kill me”, and that was that. I knew where this project was going. And like my past works, I mined my personal experiences for inspiration, combined with my interest in pop culture media.

Now this work wouldn’t be very me without my own personal spin on things, so the images from this series will be overlaid with subtle text taken from e-mails, chats and texts from past long distance relationships, examining how words are used in communicating desire, wavering between lovingly sentimental and overtly sexual. The gender of the speaker will not always be clear. The text is actually erased from the drawing, created through the negative space left over.

Touching up the text after removing the stencil

With the two different types of texts being exchanged, I envision the works being read in pairs – going back and forth between the loving and sexual. Both types are somewhat cliché words that we are taught communicate love/sex/desire through popular media, especially in songs and movies. The contrasting forms on the one hand compliment each other, but on the other hand, read almost as a lack of communication. The exchange of this type of text, in short bursts, is representative of the digital age. Letter writing gave way to e-mails and internet chat, which happened to coincide with my teenage years and is perhaps why I understand the communicating of desire through text in this way.  Desire conveyed in just a few words – short enough to send in a quick text message.

So that’s a little bit more information about the concept behind this series, which I will be working on during my residency in Reykjavik.  That and oh, pretty boys do kill me.

In my next blog post, I’ll talk a bit more about who these pretty boys are and show you some of my inspirations.

To read more about the SIM Residency and my project, please visit my Indiegogo campaign page.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...