Let’s begin with the fundamental question: why do you make art?
Well, I’m self aware enough to know that I’m not a particularly social person. And not just in terms of going out and meeting people and so forth; I actually find that I tend to have a pretty tough time connecting with people in general. So for me, art is a great form of delivering empathy. I can build a connection between my artwork and its audience, and if there is an emotional connection or a intellectual stimulation or spiritual inspiration, that’s the kind of effect I aim to achieve with my art.
Great, so we’re diving right in with this one! So let’s explore further: what sorts of themes are you pursuing with your art, what are you hoping your art will communicate with your audiences?
I like to observe people. I find that I generally tend towards being a pessimist about humanity, about the disingenuous nature of how people interact with each other. I don’t really like feeling this way necessarily, and it’s something I’m still trying to explore within myself. Art for me is like a two way street: it’s an avenue for me to engage with this process of self discover, and it’s also an outlet for me to convey my thoughts.
In terms of my hopes, I don’t think it’s the role of the artist to have any “answers” per say, like, I just hope that my art sparks a dialogue about the state of human beings. The state of life — an emotional state, a spiritual or intellectual state — is what I’m interested in exploring. The inherent vulnerability that we have within ourselves, the inherent weathering we experience as we face life. As far as theme is concerned, I would say these are the thoughts that guide my choices and explorations in art making.
Are you influenced by anyone in art history or your own life?
I’m actually the only artist in my family, so nobody in my life has particularly been influential to me outside of myself. I frankly try not to be overly influenced by masters in art history either. I guess it’s a sort of rebellion against the education that we had. Teachers forced us to identify art movements and to self-categorize into movements and make works akin to people in art history. For me, I don’t like to be categorized, I don’t really want to be compared to others either, no matter how great the artists may be who I’m being compared to. I think all that is just a way to make art more communicable using verbal language, so that students or collectors can get some academic value out of it. Art itself I think has to be unique, the creativity being unique to the artist and the connections being unique to the audience.
So where do you find the inspirations for your art?
I’m very much influenced by philosophy. Whether that be learned or something I’ve come up with myself, philosophy is a way of thinking that I guess I always naturally gravitate towards. I do paint figurative, but the way I convey my subjects have virtually nothing to do with any interest in physical realism. I’m inspired more than anything else by the emotions I feel, which is actually why I paint people most often because most of my emotions are felt towards people. Emotions, intellectually grounded in philosophy, is what shapes the art that I make.
How would you say you have evolved over the course of your career as an artist?
As you look through all these paintings I’ve made over these past few years, I’ve gradually expanded the breadth of the human condition I explore. This earliest series “The Others” I only have on facial feature while blurring out the rest of the face, then moving towards “Wipe” where I paint the whole head, then to the “Impermanence” series of the entire upper body, and to “State of Being” and “Becoming” featuring the whole body. I’m working on a new series now featuring 2 people in each painting, seeing if I can convey a connection or lack thereof between people.