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My whole practice started from an instinct, like a desire for expression. When I began creating, I knew that I wanted to express something that words could not explain. This impulse led me to start painting. Painting allows me to understand what is inspiring me. 

In the last few years, most of my work explores family gender roles and societal norms. I am interested in the situation of an individual within a group like a family, where people actively or passively occupy the same space. 

I can always feel those tensions in the objects in my paintings. They rely on and guard against each other. These creatures shoulder different responsibilities and ignore themselves. They twist and squeeze together carefully to maintain the balance. That's how I felt about a group of people like a family. Behind that balance in my paintings is some sinking ground, the bubble about to burst, the details that are ignored. It’s all based on my personal feelings. 


My drawing process is very simple. I plan everything in my sketchbook first, because I want every part of my painting to be necessary. I am also obsessed with textures, shadows, and light. Sometimes, I make a 3D model as my reference. After I finish that, I paint with acrylic on canvas with an airbrush, which is simply a tool. It can be replaced by any material or any brush. 

My practice is more about natural flow. I like random absorption and random output. Very methodical research doesn’t work very well for me. I do research, of course, but I’m not a particularly logical person. My process is more like I read more, experience more, feel more, and observe more. At the same time, I train my hand and my techniques, then let my feelings unfold naturally through my paintings. Of course, this process takes time, but I can ensure that I don’t get distracted by my own overly rational thinking. This process feels more honest to me. 

Most of the time, I just let the visual language influence me. Visually, if I like an object, I’ll use it. Some objects come from my imagination, but my references come from real life. 

I always paint spaces, like the inside of a box or a table, since they feel like family structures to me. Those objects are put on the same table, in the same way that we are people being placed at the same table. I think that the audience can figure it out. They can place their own story onto this random space. 


I'm obsessed with toxic colors combined with neutral colors. I also pick colors from the digital world. As I mentioned, I make 3D models sometimes as my reference. I also like to pull from social media and animations. I make 3D animations based on my paintings as a reference, and sometimes, I try to convey the motion of animation in my paintings. 

I think my earlier paintings are more still life, but recently, they’re more like portraits. Now, I place human gestures into still life, but I don't consider it still life anymore. I don't want to have a very specific definition of my paintings. 

For some paintings, I treat them like I’m creating a dish–like I'm cooking them. In cooking, we have to find a balance in flavor. It's not good if it's too sour or too sweet. In my paintings, I try to use sweet colors like pink, orange, or red combined with calm colors like blue, ultramarine, or ochre yellow to maintain the balance of the picture. I am obsessed with this bright red color because we are always seeing it in hazmat signs, or exit signs. It means danger and is intense, but it’s also very warm.

The modeling textures I use, like very shiny surfaces on a soft body, are not that common in real life. It is common for some animals, but not on the human body. I did some research on that. People are obsessed with glossy surfaces on the human body. For example, we put gloss on our lips and use body oil to create that glossy surface. It’s very interesting, I don’t know why humans are obsessed with that. It’s instinct. I also use strawberry textures, which evoke the flavor of sweetness and sourness. I also like to secretly put candy shapes in my paintings, like chocolates and cookies.

Recently, I have been interested in the body wrapped in something. It reminds me of when we’re a baby–when we’re wrapped by something, we feel safe like it’s a hug from our mom. I felt that the form of the body in fabric can also evoke that feeling, like safety and discomfort at the same time. When someone hugs us, it feels safe, but sometimes, we can’t breathe.

Images courtesy of the artist and Haoyu Zhao.