There are days when I feel the world around is going in a frenzy and I’m idling standing by watching the everything from a distance. Then other days it’s the reverse, where I’m the one who is a frenzy and the world is lagging behind. Although much has happened recently, I have this deeper feeling that everything has become stagnant, a silent foreboding. I feel completely lost. Is it because CNY, the year of the rooster is around the corner? The calm before the storm?
On January 14-15th, 2017, I held my first Open Studio event to showcase the various artworks in my working environment in Chai Wan, an industrial neighbourhood in Hong Kong, known more-so for it’s photography studios, printing houses, garages and storage facilities. The works that are shown in this album are pieces that have been gathered from past exhibitions and shows, meanwhile I have also included some new works. There is always this feeling that the older works are ‘left-overs’, the ones that didn’t sell. Some frames have worn-out corners that have been nicked and scratched from moving about, and paintings where paints have aged, but have now settled. For some photographs, they look and feel nostalgic, matured over time, like fine wine. I feel they hold more authenticity than when I first printed them, having tested and grown over the years. And when I look at some of my graphite artworks, some of the matting has yellowed, and I look at my hand-written signature, the size and placement — they look somewhat amateurish, but I feel it’s entirely okay. I realise that I have grown and my aesthetics have evolved, so there is nothing to be embarrassed about. I love the artworks dearly as if they were my children, my creations. All the works shown here are available for direct sales from me, if you are so inclined to make a purchase. For any enquiries, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want to thank all the people that took the time to drop by. The past week has been intellectually stimulating and rewarding, gaining insight into the work that I do, and in hearing how art can fit within a commercial perspective, while maintain integrity and authenticity in the work that is created. Special thanks to Luke Chapman, Jeff and Cherry Chaicharn, Geoffrey, Patrick, Philippa Ho, Jefferson Ortaleza Mendoza and others. I really enjoyed the conversations and for sharing your experience and knowledge with me.
What I know from the past few days is that dialogue is really necessary, a need for honest and real communication one-on-one with curious and like-minded people with different perspectives to share and talk about art. It does not come from chatting on the internet with fans, or watching youtube interviews of well-known artists. I want to get past the fluffy exterior and into the guts of what is going on. I have always felt that critique is so vitally important in the development of any artist, to learn to take the shit when the art is shit, and to accept compliments gracefully know when you’ve hit on something good. Good honest sincere art exposes you, leaves you naked, a target for judgement.
I have found a new fascination with doodling, something that is done by many while talking in the phone, in classrooms, or maybe in conferences (when you zone out from what the speaker is saying). As an artist, strangely, I rarely doodled, but would walk up to a canvas and start working right away. Most of the time, since my work was more along the lines of abstract expressionism, I approached the canvas with an open liberal mind. Then about a month ago, I started to doodle again on A4 paper, to free up my hand on another level or scale using the medium of a ink marker, vastly different from a paint brush or piece of cloth. The tool determines a particular outcome, as much as the size of the artwork. In the samples shown below, these were all created on A5 card paper stock, thick enough to give the feeling that there was a level of importance to what I was doing, but small enough to not be too serious about the output. It was all the right elements in place for me to create without inhibitions and supposedly ‘without thought’. In my investigations I found that not knowing what exactly to do was beneficial to the level of creative output. I wasn’t afraid to draw spiders and insects, something I sort of fear on the daily basis — I hate cockroaches! I drew symbols like crosses, pluses and minus, and ones that did not make any sense. It wasn’t going to matter. I drew shapes and forms that looked like children’s work and latices and fill-in patters of dots and hashes that reminded me of my days working as an architect. At a charity doodle event, the lady across from me said my drawings were like the inner working of my mind, which was so true.
I am wondering if there is something more that can be gained from this particular experience of doodling, and letting things just go, where anything is allowed and nothing is taboo. Could this be something that the everyday person could benefit from? I know that colouring books have been the rage recently, but I personally don’t feel attuned to that. The blank paper and a pen/marker seems much more appropriate. I believe creating the shapes is by far more liberating, offering a more free and creative approach to the tactile experience than choosing colours to fill ‘within the lines’. If anything, we should be crossing and connecting the lines!
To see more of my doodles, please go to http://www.normyip.com/mishmash/
My first dream of 2017 had me sitting in a plain room with no decoration. A man walks in this room wearing a button-down shirt and sits himself across from me. He asks me “What are thoughts on the consciousness”? I started to answer him citing different levels on consciousness….
I feel as though the majority of the human race is in low level consciousness, which includes things like mass consumerism, killing, money-driven goals both from an individual and corporate level. The year of 2016 was certainly a shock and eye-opener to the reality of this mode of thinking. Eckhardt Tolle called this low level of thinking ‘unconscious’.
Perhaps 2017 will bring about a small bit of awakening from this kind of thought pattern. Wakening includes small big things like 1) we are all the same as part of a greater ‘whole’, 2) that nothing is ‘real’ as form is an illusion (scientifically this has been shown the case too), 3) spirituality at its core essence is pointing to the same source, for example 4) Buddha and Jesus was talking about the same inner experience and 5) that ‘you’ are not your thoughts, nor your body, as it part of the form or illusion. Also 6) that there is more to what meets the eye in our limited vision of experience (this one get into the preternatural area).
Well, my first post of this kind. I can presume some will disagree with my writings, but I felt this was to be shared, as I started to waken from the dream.
The opportunity to exhibit artwork in Zurich once again was a delight to see and experience. In a joint effort between myself and fellow artist Alexis Reynaud, we both brought visual variety to Gallery Box, a new gallery space in Zurich that opened last year by Thomas Sarbach, a painter and artist as well. It was Thomas, the one who made the introduction of Alexis to me and suggested that we group together for this show. Initially, I had concerns that my work alone was not enough to do a show successfully at his gallery, given the large space of the venue.
The original idea was to have an exhibition of my Pulsation painting only and some of my more intellectually stimulating graphite drawings to accompany the show. I would leave my Asian male photography out of the show. As things transpired over the months, Thomas was keen to see my Asian male images included as part of the exhibition, seeing as how Alexis was keen to show some of his nude photography work too. Thus, in the last weeks prior to the opening, there was a rush to get photographs printed and framed.
Alexis Reynaud included male and female nudes painted in black and covered with a high gloss finish/sheen, resulting in a high contrast black to white erotic images. Shot using sharp lighting (most likely a strobe), it was a foil to my images, where softness and slightly blurred images appear. The feelings from each of our works are similar, but one thing remained clear: the desire to create beauty using the human body as the vehicle for expression.
As for our paintings, my work is abstract, taking influence from Jackson Pollock’s action paintings, but at a much smaller scale and with a more stylised control of brushwork. Alexis however took the Samurai as his subject matter, creating a highly energised set of paintings using only a selective colour palette of red, blue, yellow, and the neutral colours of black and white for his works. Sweeping expansive strokes compared to my smaller controlled ones. The common thread to our work was clear: the desire for self-expression through the use of the brush, and not so much about attempting to create something real. Yes, Alexis’s work is more figurative, but to me, the essence is in the expressive brushworks, and if viewed more closely, abstraction.
What is fascinating for me is the desire for both myself and Alexis to take on the medium of painting and photography as a modes of expression, to which Thomas, the curator, found intriguing. The title Two Worlds One Mind is entirely appropriate. Speaking for myself, I took to painting as far back as 1999, when my first studio collaboration/partnership began with Meli-Melo Artist Alliance. Painting spoke to me in ways that was different than photography. It was in fact more tactile and real than photography. With painting, there was a purposeful engagement with the brush, canvas, the mixing of colours, and the application of medium to surface, a process that is entirely unique and special.
Just before the Pulsation series began, I had reached a mini plateau, and I was ready to move my work in a different direction. And then it happened: the Orlando shooting where over 50 people were shot dead in a gay bar. That incident brought forth feelings, which I then translated into the artwork.
The exhibition for me is important, as it is the first time for me showing my paintings abroad/overseas. I owe a huge THANK YOU to all that came to the exhibition opening, and of course to Thomas Sarbach and Alexis for their support and generosity during my time there.
By appointment only:
The journey of this painting took nearly a month of indecision and searching. As a result, I destroyed one painting in the process after 3 white washes of one canvas; thereby starting over completely. One friend to whom I mentioned this to said that was very courageous. I thought so too, but only because I felt no guilt or anger from the fresh start. Process. No feelings of discontent or anger. Just let it be. The new canvas proved to be the right thing to do. I could feel the surface of the canvas again; and how it would inform me of it’s need to be felt.
So what went on in my mind as I was painting this piece, which didn’t have a title prior to the completed art? I was trying to force it into being similar to the first two paintings in the series of Ode to New York. I wanted it to be the same vein at them so there would be a coherence of bold dark thick lines and form with richness in contrast and colours, meanwhile being balanced throughout with areas of confusion pitted against clarity and sharpness. I wanted it to look like the first piece in the series, but it simply would not happen. I felt at times that I had been a failure during this process. How could I not do it again? This gave me the feeling that I should never do a commission.
Midway through the second canvas, I came to a stage of the painting where I thought: yes, this is coming along. I put that thought on hold and continued to paint the surface with a secondary thought: the new work has to have its own identity. It is desperately wanting it’s own character, it’s own voice. The message is different. With that, I took the brush and once again, make marks. I pulled back from the painting and to my dismay, it looked like shit! What the fuck? I took the painting quietly and placed it in the storage area. I didn’t want to look at it again.
The next night as I lied on the sofa, the voice inside said: push it further! I didn’t like the word ‘push’. I corrected the voice with my own and said ‘I’ll work on it more’. With that, I pulled the painting out from the storage area and lied it flat on my painting table. I turned down the lights in the studio to darken the space, while I had a light on in the adjacent room. With that, I started to paint. Something magical happened and I could feel the energy moving through me, transporting the marks onto the canvas. I knew it was coming. Layers of colours went on with a new feeling coming to the canvas. I pulled the painting off from the table and place it on the wall. I felt another colour wanting to make its mark and again, pulled the painting down and laid down the several more marks. Suddenly, there it was. It was right; it was perfect.
For it’s title, I knew it was a self portrait of me in an abstracted form of disjointed feverish brushstrokes with underlying layers of complexity, but it is an untitled piece; this could be anyone, it could be you, the viewer.
I hope you enjoy the artwork, as much as my journey into self discovery.
My fine art website: http://normyip.com
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.
NORM YIP Pulsation Exhibition Catalogue:
Video Interview Credit:
A quick zoom in and out of pencil drawing “Levitation, No. 2”. Completed while listening to music by Marc Poppcke – Breakable (Namatjira Remix) https://youtu.be/mihEZUgtN84.
If you look closely, you’ll get a slight 3D effect, although it is all 2D on Acumen card paper stock.
In the event that you might be interested in this particular artwork, yes it is available. Just contact me through my website shown below.
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.