I was fortunate enough to have Jefferson Mendoza interview me recently for my Pulsation exhibition at Tree of Life art space, an exhibition in which the artwork was influenced by the mass shooting in Orlando, where 49 lives were taken and the repercussions that took place following the event.
Thank you to all the people that came out the exhibition opening of Pulsation. It was indeed a high for me, having not shown my painting work in quite a number of years. Special thank you to Absolute Vodka (alcohol sponsor) and Tree of Life (venue) for all your support and encouragement. Photographed by Alan Leung.
High speed video clip of me creating Pulsation, No. 8, a painting akin to the work of the Abstract Expressionists and perhaps some of the ideology that were suggested by the Surrealists Automatism. Throughout the creative process, there is a balance between perceived chaos and definitive control. My colour selection is thought out and nearly calculative, yet the application of paint to canvas is somewhat arbitrary and gestural. This gestural movement is learned, but from the point of letting go, versus detailed formalism.
Credit is owned to the background music, of which I have borrowed from a podcast which inspires me to do the work that I do. Playing is Above & Beyond’s Group Therapy, No. 157.
Recent Paintings & Drawings
Opening on 12 August 2016, 7-10pm
Live Demonstration* at 8pm
Exhibition continues until 31 August 2016
Tree of Life, 36 Eastern Street,
Sai Yin Pun, Hong Kong
Open daily 10am – 8pm T. +852 9220 0803
T. +852 68388948
PULSATION is the beat of the heart; pulsation is the beat of the city; pulsation is the beat of the Earth; pulsation is the beat of the universe. It is the dance of negative and positive energy in synch with each other. Ever since Norm Yip decided to pursue his interest in art and creativity, his investigations in art and consciousness has brought him closer to the work of the Abstract Expressionists. Pulsation is part of the ongoing evolution of Norm’s art: organic, yet mediating between control and freedom in the traditional form of painting and drawing.
*Norm will demonstrate how he creates one of his vibrant ‘Pulsation’ paintings, a task he says, is both challenging and easy at the same time. “Life is a journey, not a destination.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Two weeks ago, on the morning of June 12, 2016, I heard the news of the mass shooting in Orlando. Events were just starting to unfold as the late night began in the US; many questions were still unanswered as to what exactly was happening. That evening, I was having drinks with writer Marshall Moore at local gay bar Zoo here in Hong Kong, when it was reported that 50 people were shot dead. Looking at Marshall, I could tell he was devastated by the news. We asked for another round of drinks.
As the days moved onwards, I was checking the news and following the events on the victims and the murderer, as well as the horrific reactions by religious fundamentalists with their narrow-minded views on homosexuality. Shocking, frightening, and disturbing.
In my studio, both glued to the news and videos, I actually froze from painting for the first while as I was trying to process what I should do. Should I paint something political? How do I even approach the painting? I wondered if I should create something more political, but eventually felt that was purely reactionary and decided to take the energy and channel it into the artwork. It was hard to process this as I approached the canvas. My hands were trembling as I was painting the first layers of paints, a combination of deep blues and dark reds. The lighter version was completed first; while the darker version came later.
Wanted to do some smaller pieces as exercises. A few quick abstract sketches created using graphite and woodless charcoal pencils while listening to selected ambient music. Actually, beginning the pieces are hard because I feel as though I have to exert control over the paper. Once that hurdle is accomplished, then it’s letting the artwork take its own course and trying not to impose my own ‘will’ into the piece.
Scientists have discovered that it 7 seconds before we decide on a decision on what to do, brain activity is already making choices! Strange but true. So, the question is whether or not I ‘created’ the artwork, if the decisions to the actions were already happening before I laid graphite to paper. It’s the classic case of whether free will truly exists. Okay maybe a bit too conceptual, but that’s what intrigues me.
To the many followers of my work in photographing the The Asian Male, I have come the decision that 2016 will mark the year that the project comes to an end.
What started out as an exercise to emulate the photography of Herb Ritts has taken me into a journey of exploration and discovery of my photographic abilities as a photographer in capturing the human body, in a subject matter that was for the most part, unexplored.
During the past year, many of you may well know that my interest has shifted and my passion towards photographing the Asian male subject subsiding, seeking only to shoot a few selected models that would come across my path. With recent events both on a personal and business level, I realised that The Asian Male series was indeed coming to a close, and it was only a matter of time that I announce to my fans and admirers the end has arrived.
Thank you to all the models that I have been privileged to photograph, especially in the formative years, when Asian men were not seen as an object of beauty, as it is today. And thank you to the many fans that have been following my work throughout the 18 years.
No doubt there may be opportunities for showcasing the collection of images in the future, but that has yet to become an actuality. In the meantime, the images will remain in my Archives.
I write this recounting the event that took place two days ago. I was lying on the sofa when I suddenly felt a strange yet not totally unfamiliar feeling of complete bliss, and an eerie silence was felt thought out my consciousness. For a few minutes I knew instinctively that this was what I was trying to achieve when I entered into meditation, and for some reason I was entered it without mentally trying (and maybe this was the reason why it happened). Normally my mind is chattering away in a constant hum of thoughts in my failed attempts at meditation.
What was the feeling like? It was very peaceful, very quiet, and calm. Unlike anything I had experienced before. I remember it happened while my eyes were closed, and I consciously felt the presence of bliss upon me. I told myself to open my eyes to see if the feeling would continue. It did as I expected. The feeling was not love, as some might think. It was just that everything felt perfect, just as it was. What was more beautiful was the purity of this deep silence. So very peaceful. What is the name of this place? Some of you may know.
Regardless, this was the first time this happened to me. There was an odd familiarity to this, yet it was new to me. I am uncertain.
I have been thinking about a suitable name to call the recent artwork that I have been creating in my studio that would be appropriate from an intellectual, visual and experiential level. This name would need to be flexible and open enough to encompass a freedom of many different genres and mediums of work, yet sufficiently tight enough to distinguish it from other approach to art that may not be in alignment with its definition. And so the words ‘Abstract Universalism’ came to mind as it seemed to aptly describe the essence of my paintings.
Spirituality has always been largely a question that has been left unanswered, tending to fall more so into the philosophy of Buddhism and Taoism more so than my early childhood influences of Protestant and Christian beliefs that my Canadian friends would follow by. I belief that beauty must prevail in a work of art, and thus the elements of beauty in art must or should be present in both an intentional and subconscious way. Art to me is not purely the expression of the soul, but should contain within it a sense of transcendence. Art should not simply be the rendering of human emotion or a catalogue of conceptual ideas; it must and should illuminate both the mind and senses. The art is not immediately understood, but should evoke the past and future at the same time, thereby locking in the present moment of timelessness.
So what is Universalism? According to Wikipedia, it is a religious, theological, and philosophical concept with universal application or applicability. Universalist doctrines consider all people in their formation. Thus, universalism is grounded on the acceptance of varied belief structures that do not adhere strictly to any one religion and is encompasses different philosophical views.
Adding the word abstraction to the description then seems entirely appropriate, as much of my work is rooted in non-representation, as shown in The Vibratory Field series of artwork. The artworks are seen more like energy waves or particles, resembling in some instances, the pointillistic work of Seurat.
On another level of observation, the artworks may also have references to rolling landscapes or the sea. The titles of the artwork are loosely defined, such as ‘Travelling’ or ‘Ecstasy’ and allows the viewer to interpret at will whatever they see or feel.
Abstract Universalism’s underlying themes
– based on nature, the cosmos, energy particles, the sea, the land, the trees and nature.
– spirituality and awakening of consciousness is present as an underlying foundation to the artwork.
– artwork can contain all elements of different spiritual philosophies where there is no exclusion of beliefs.
– the artwork provide the audience with the feeling of transcendence of mind and spirit.
– idea generators may also include fractal patterns at micro and macro scales, and natural phenomenon (yet with human intervention, observation and reinterpretation)
– the artwork tends not to be sensationalised, yet may be sensational in itself.
– artworks tend to be large in scale to the human body in order to diminish the individual; the uniqueness is in the whole and sum of the parts.
– The ‘I’ has been replaced by ‘We’.
– decentralisation of man and ego; focus on humankind and non-duality.
Examples of Abstract Universalism:
The following are artists I have found where the elements and ideas behind Abstract Universalism seem to have been present within their work. It is not a definitive list.
Trance Music & VJ Graphics is another genre or art-form that I would aptly describe as containing all the key elements of Abstract Universalism ideals and concept. The music and graphics combine to bring about a heightened sense of consciousness. This state of consciousness is rarely associated with any god-like reference, but more universal in nature.
The earth and people are changing, and many artists have already lead the way. I feel this is an art movement that speaks beyond the human individual, but of a greater kind. I have read much about the science in the field of quantum physics, the exploration of space, and the spiritual teaching of Eckhart Tolle. There is a collective art that is not divided by race, gender, or geographical boundaries that is speaking to the artists. It is not limited to the visual arts, but present in selective music, installation art and performance art.
Do you have any suggestions on the development or definition of Abstract Universalism? I would like to hear from you.