self-portrait

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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

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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.

Hands, Arms, Faces and Hair

Roselina Hung - Cradling (sketch) - 2015
Cradling (sketch) – 2015

Things have been a bit quiet. I had to take some time off in March and only just got back into the studio this past week. I’ve been busy preparing for a couple of group exhibitions in May in Vancouver. But first, I wanted to share some preliminary drawings I’ve been working on. These are only sketches that I will be using to create the final piece(s). It is a slow process. Oftentimes when we see artworks, we don’t realize all the work that goes into the preparation. All the sketches, set up, failed attempts and do overs. We only see the final product that the artist is allowing us to see.

Here is a sneak peek of some drawings. Works in progress…

Roselina Hung - Pull (sketch) - 2015
Pull (sketch) – 2015
Roselina Hung - Wrist Hold (sketch) - 2015
Wrist Hold (sketch) – 2015
Roselina Hung - Hair Pull (sketch) - 2015
Hair Pull (sketch) – 2015
Roselina Hung - Hair Fall (sketch) - 2015
Hair Fall (sketch) – 2015

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.

No pain, no gain

Out of commission

Things have been a little bit quiet on the art front for me this past month, which is why I haven’t really posted on my blog. Turns out I hurt my hand, quite possibly from drawing too much, while I was in Reykjavik, so I’ve taken a short break from drawing/painting, as well as using the computer and typing. Things are on the mend, however, I don’t want to push my luck, so this post will be short.

It’s been difficult not working on my art or on the computer, where a lot of the other side of the art happens – from the administrative stuff to the planning stages. Seeing as how I can’t really use my right hand for anything at the moment, sketching and writing with a pencil is even out of the question. It really makes you appreciate how much we use our hands, and how difficult it is using your non-dominant hand to do even the smallest of tasks.

The entrance to the exhibit

While I’ve not had the chance to physically work on anything, there’s currently a back log of ideas in my mind of what to do for next year – so at least that is something. The art is just in the pre-production stage at the moment. I’ve also been able to visit the Surrey Art Gallery’s exhibition, Scenes of Selves, Occasions for Ruses, in which I have a few self-portrait paintings. It was really exciting to see my work up in a gallery space of this size and esteem, and I feel very honoured to be showing next to the artists in the group exhibit.

The curatorial statement

Later this month, I will be giving an artist talk, on November 17th. For more details, please check the News section of my website. In the meantime, here are a few more photos from the exhibition. If you are in the Vancouver area, please visit the exhibition or come to my artist talk and say hello!

My wall of self-portraits
A brief write up about some of my paintings in this exhibition
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