Mother / Mother

Roselina Hung, Madonna of the Lilies, 36x36 in, Oil & linen on wood panel, 2016

Mother – Part 1

Sandro Botticelli, Madonna and Child with Eight Angels, Tempera on panel, 135 cm diameter, c.1478

2016 was a quiet art year for me with lots going on in life. The first half of the year started out normally, working on different paintings and exploring new themes, but things changed in late spring. I found myself thinking a lot about motherhood, and what it meant as an artist to also be a mother. It’s something that I’ve been thinking a lot about these past few years. I asked myself how I could explore this in my art, where I’ve often looked at female roles. Going back to my interest in themes and images repeated throughout art history, I was drawn to representations of the Madonna. Identifying her as the Virgin Mary was dependent on her being a mother or else her virginity would be of no importance. So who was this woman that was depicted in countless paintings with her baby if the baby was taken out of the picture.

Roselina Hung, Madonna of the Lilies (work in progress)
Roselina Hung, Madonna of the Lilies (work in progress)

And so I began playing with images of the Madonna with child, deleting everything except her face and shroud. I rearranged the separate parts to create a new composition. I played with textures where her halo should be and colour gradients and lines replaced golden rays of light.

While I was working on this painting and my brain was obsessed with these ideas, I learned that I was pregnant. And then it all made sense why this overwhelming feeling to work on this painting seemed to take over my mind. But it also meant that while I was planning a series of these paintings, my time in the studio changed. I had to reacquaint myself with the basics of oil painting, as I used techniques that were reliant on solvents, which were now forbidden to use. And my paintings took longer, and I had much less energy. This was also when I was preparing to leave for Salzburg. So my Madonna painting was only finished upon my return, later in the fall, once I was feeling better and able to spend more hours in the studio again. I’ve only created the one from a planned series, but I hope to revisit this in the future.

Roselina Hung, Madonna of the Lilies, 36x36 in, Oil & linen on wood panel, 2016
Roselina Hung, Madonna of the Lilies, Oil & linen on wood panel, 36 x 36 in, 2016


Mother – Part 2

Rosy at 6 Months (work in progress)
Rosy at 6 Months (work in progress)

In the past, I’ve tried to create one self-portrait annually. There’s something very cathartic about painting these self-portraits. They are challenging, as who else’s likeness am I most familiar with? With any feature a millimetre off, it can change the complete look of a face. But I also really enjoy creating self-portraits, as I feel like they are just for me without worrying about what the painting means, if someone would want to buy it, or where does it fit within my practice. Many times, these paintings have marked important events in my life, however small or large they may seem to the outside world. There is a significance there for me. Sometimes they are more about feelings I was having, or my psychological state during that year. And other times they mark actual events. But more often than not, they are a mix of all these things, and also a way for me to work out new ideas and themes for future works in the backgrounds or style that I’ve chosen for each specific painting.

With my growing belly, I realized that I did not have many photos of myself pregnant, and it was something that I wanted to remember. As a child, I remember looking at photos of my mom when she was pregnant with me and how bewildering it was to think that I was once inside her. And I hope to be able to share this painting with my child someday.

Roselina Hung, Rosy at 6 Months, Oil on wood panel, 6.5 x 12 in, 2016
Roselina Hung, Rosy at 6 Months, Oil on wood panel, 6.5 x 12 in, 2016

I knew I wanted to work with an odd sized wood panel, one that I could use to emphasize the feeling of constraint. As I was physically growing in size, I imagined the tight quarters of my belly, but I also felt like I was being physically, mentally and emotionally stretched to extremes that I had never known. As with all my paintings, I think a lot about composition and space within the frame of the painting. A lot can be conveyed through the intentional use of space.

I also wanted this painting to be a celebration, hence the brightly coloured background and exploding flowers for my spring baby. This was the first time that I worked on a self-portrait with the flat, graphic patterns of my other paintings.

Roselina Hung, Rosy at 6 Months (detail), Oil on wood panel, 6.5 x 12 in, 2016
Roselina Hung, Rosy at 6 Months (detail), Oil on wood panel, 6.5 x 12 in, 2016

I finished this painting just in time, before I take a few months off once my baby is born. So things may be a little quiet on the art front for a little while, but I’m hoping to get back into things by summer and be back in the studio and also working from home on some new projects. In the meantime, I will be exhibiting a couple of drawings from my pretty boys kill me series and a wallpaper installation in superyoung, a group exhibition curated by Zoë Chan at the Kamloops Art Gallery. The exhibition will run from April until July.


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.

Hey baby!

Happy New Year! I’ve been a bit quiet with my blog posting as I was busy over the holidays trying to catch up on work. I had to take over a month and a half off late last fall because of my hand injury, and with my solo exhibition at Gallery Fukai quickly approaching this April, I’m going full speed these days, working on my show.

That being said, I did find some time over the holidays to complete a commission I’d like to share with you. It was a commission from my Indiegogo campaign last year, which helped me raise funds to work on my pretty boys kill me drawings in Reykjavik, Iceland in September 2012. The commission was for a head and shoulder pencil crayon drawing, but the thing is, it was of a baby…!

Olivia - coloured pencil on paper, 8x10 in, 2013
Olivia – coloured pencil on paper, 8×10 in, 2013

I don’t know if this is common knowledge, but it’s actually pretty hard to draw a baby because their facial proportions are so different to that of an adult’s.  Their face is constantly changing as the baby grows and quite quickly for that matter. So it was a challenge, but I’ve always found that I enjoy doing commissions for this reason. Oftentimes, with commissioned portraits, I have to step out of my comfort zone and what I’m used to and work on something I normally wouldn’t do or haven’t done before. So it’s a new experience for me, and I’m happy to say that I really like the end result of my drawing but more importantly, the parents thought I captured the baby girl’s smile perfectly.

For anyone interested in commissioning a portrait, please get in touch with me through my e-mail: rosy(at)roselinahung.com


Finishing up my third pretty boy drawing
Finishing up my third pretty boy drawing

April isn’t far now (how is it mid-January already?!), and with the exhibition opening the first week of the month, I still have a lot to do. I don’t want to give away too much of what I’m working on, as ideally I’d like to reveal most of the new work at the exhibition and online once the show opens, so major updates of new work will be a bit sparse. My pretty boys kill me project is coming along well, but it is extremely time consuming and I will be dedicating the next couple of months to finishing the art for my exhibition, which will be the first solo exhibition I’ve had since 2009 as well as my first major exhibition of work in Vancouver in many years. I’m looking forward to showing you what I’ve been up to, but you’ll have to wait for the full reveal in April!

The foundation layers of each portrait
The foundation layers of each portrait

Scenes of Selves, Occasions for Ruses

This upcoming Saturday will be the opening of a group exhibition at the Surrey Art Gallery titled Scenes of Selves, Occasions for Ruses. I will be exhibiting a series of self-portrait paintings dating from 2006 to 2011, many of which have never been exhibited in Vancouver, and all of which have never been shown alongside each other.

Unfortunately I will not be able to attend the opening of the exhibition, as I am in Reykjavik for the remainder of September, but if you are in Vancouver or Surrey, I invite you to see the show. The Surrey Art Gallery is an amazing gallery space, and they have strong programming under the direction of curator Jordan Strom. I feel really honoured to be a part of this exhibition, and while I will not be there for the opening, I will be taking part in a panel discussion later in November.

Details for the exhibition are:

Scenes of Selves, Occasions for Ruses

Jim Andrews, Eryne Donahue, David Horvitz, Roselina Hung, Suzy Lake, Elizabeth Milton, Pushpamala N and Clare Arni, Carol Sawyer, and Carrie Walker

Curated by Jordan Strom

September 15 – December 16
Opening Reception: Saturday September 15, 7:30-9:30pm
Surrey Art Gallery
13750 – 88 Avenue, Surrey, BC

In the era of status updates, photo sharing websites, and profile pictures, one’s image and therefore one’s identity presented to the world is more important, changeable, and multi-dimensional than ever before. Surrey Art Gallery’s new group exhibition Scenes of Selves, Occasions for Ruses features artworks by 10 artists in a wide variety of media – including drawing, painting, photography, and video – that explore the nature of identity, and particularly self identity, at the beginning of the 21st century.

Portrayals of oneself have come a long way since Dürer and Rembrandt developed self-portraiture as an artistic genre in the 16th and 17th centuries. Contemporary artists have made self-portraiture – and representation of themselves as stand-ins for ‘the other’ – a vibrant centre of art making today. As new communication tools have led to identity becoming increasingly connected to complex and overlapping social networks, today’s artists are re-examining self-representation at the limits of self-portraiture. How artists see and represent themselves reveals much about how we perceive ourselves and others.

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