All my life, I have been suffering from allergic rhinitis. Just a slight change of weather would give me a bad runny nose. Naturally, I can never stay far away from my Kleenex box. These disposable tissue papers may look worthless to most, but in the eyes of the local artist Angel Hui, they represent a whole new world of possibilities. By altering its functionalities, tissue paper can acquire a different nature. “As a household item, tissue papers are present everywhere. I wish to use art to give them a different definition.” Angel’s graduation project is a hand-painted series of traditional Chinese blue-and-white porcelain pattern on 100 pieces of tissue paper. The meticulously applied brushwork gives new weight to the flimsy paper that would have otherwise lived a short lifespan. “Blue-and-white porcelain pattern is a highly representative style in Chinese art, with deep associations with the traditional Chinese culture. By drawing such traditional ink pattern on these fragile canvases, I attempt to express the artistic quality from the most mundane materials in ordinary life. This is an invitation for us to ponder on the boundary between everyday life and art.” Hui’s works are painstakingly detailed and executed, an approach that gives her works an ethereal quality when applied to her tissue paper. The medium may look more brittle than porcelain, but it is full of vitality.A
“I always ponder on the question of what is defined as art? What is an everyday item? Can’t ordinary everyday item become art too? The relationship in between is very subtle, ambiguous and even controversial sometimes. Art is surrounding our lives. Perhaps we are not even aware of its existence, or how it is affecting our everyday lives. Art is, however, definitely as alive as you and me. It’s constantly shaping our culture and society, and, in turn, our thoughts. We also rely on art to express our emotions. In fact, I think everybody is in some ways creating art of their own.” Hui is clearly demonstrating a way how to give an everyday object a new state and turn it into art, successfully blurring the line between art and life.
“During my days at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, I learned how to use different media, perspective, and routes to explore the authenticity of certain objects. I always remind myself not to rely on a single perspective to look at one thing. We must always observe and analyze carefully. The professors often persuade us to make good use of our own personal identities to create art that can engage with societal topics, in order to express our unique point of view.” Art is a way of life. So when you make art, you are making a statement on life itself. “There are just so many interesting things in the world for us to explore. Everyone is bound to have a unique approach to things and a unique style to express themselves. Artists have a responsibility to venture into the unexplored realm to try to do something unprecedented. This is the only way to create art that is different from others’.” Hui said it was not at all easy to do ink painting on tissue paper. For instance, it is very challenging to control the right water proportion. Too much water will turn the paper into pulp; too little, it would not leave enough coloring. “To prepare for this work, I have done a lot of research about these blue-and-white porcelain patterns, as well as the shapes of the porcelain. I also studied the development of the pattern from the Yuan to the Qing Dynasty. By acquiring a profound knowledge about its historical development, I hope to grasp the aesthetic standards of different dynasties, before reflecting this knowledge through my works.” Besides the somewhat serious topic like history research, Hui also has her playful side. Her Swimming in Blue and White series features little model figures as “swimmers” on her ink paintings of blue-and-white porcelain pattern, creating a delightfully interesting contrast.
Elements of new and old are twisted together to show Hui’s unique sense of humor, the compound also makes her works very Instagrammable. It becomes the theme of collective exhibition “#8ARTISTS” at A2Z Art Gallery. “Nowadays, people love to say how easy it is to see the world through various social media platforms, without spending a dime to travel. On the internet, one can check out artworks by different artists, even the most famous ones. My works are also gaining more recognition through social media. For artists, it can bring more exposure and, in turn, recognition. However, the efforts and time invested in it are also demanding. It is clearly a chore for some artists. To me, I still love to visit galleries and museums to see the actual works in person. That is the only way to completely feel the texture and power of the art piece. Social media can never substitute that substantial feeling when you see art with your real eyes.” Such substantiality has something in common with everyday items, they both are necessities in life.