Tag Archives: norm yip

Thoughts behind ‘Two Worlds One Mind’ by Norm Yip & Alexis Reynaud

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.


BARRY, No.3.jpg
Norm Yip, Barry, 2016, Pigment ink on paper, 50 x 75 cm. 

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.

Alexis Reynaud, Musashi 00017, 2016, Acrylic on canvas, 61 x 46 cm.
Pulsation, No. 2.jpg
Norm Yip, Pulsation, No. 2, 2016, Acrylic on canvas, 210 x 140 cm.

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:
Tel +41(0)763446060
Mail: gallerybox@gmx.ch


Pencil drawing: Levitation, No. 2

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.

To see my artwork: http://normyip.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/normyip
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/normyip/


The Making of Pulsation, No. 8

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.

To see more of my paintings: http://normyip.com
Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/normyip
Instagram ID: normyip
I welcome enquiries on the work that I do.

Pulsation Exhibition by Norm Yip

Pulsation Exhibition - IG.jpg

TREE OF LIFE presents: 

PULSATION by Norm Yip | 葉灃

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

Tree of Life: http://treeoflifehk.com/
Norm Yip: http://normyip.com/

Abstract artwork influenced by the Orlando shooting.

Pulsation, No. 1.jpg
Pulsation, No. 1, 2016, Acrylic on Canvas, 210 x 140cm. 
Pulsation, No. 2.jpg
Pulsation, No. 2, 2016, Acrylic on Canvas, 210 x 140cm. 

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.

Abstract Universalism : humanity’s new art movement?

Me posing with Travelling, No. 2
Me posing with Travelling, No. 2, 2016, Acrylic on canvas.

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.

Abstract Universalism Art by Norm YIp

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.

The Work of Andy Goldsworthy20110919-112536.jpg

Yayoi Kusama‘s Infinity Mirror Room

Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate

The Sculptures of Janet Echelman

The Weather Project by Olafur Eliasson
olafur Eliasson
The Paintings of Anselm Keifer
Anselm Kiefer retrospective - London

The Photographs of Andreas Gursky

Anthony How’s wind sculptures 

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.

Eric Prydz Music and VJ Graphic (Image below courtesy of Rukes.com


Above & Beyond Music & VJ Graphic (Image below Above & Beyond Live at Madison Square Garden – screenshot)

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 1.54.21 PM.png

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.


Facebook censors Asian male buttocks

© Norm Yip 2015
© Norm Yip 2015. The middle image was removed by Facebook. 
Several days ago I posted three photographs of a young man, as shown above. All of the images are of him nude. One image is taken from the front, and the other two are of images of him taken showing his buttocks, one showing the actual photograph, and a second image of that in the form of a print. Today, when I opened my facebook app, I was logged out. I thought ‘Not again’. I logged back in and was taken to my offending image, where I had to read a statement that I understood the ramifications of posting images not according to their community standards. I click to agree and a message appears indicating that I cannot post for 3 days. This is not the first time this has happened.

Facebook from the very start has been highly touchy about my photography of Asian male nudes. And the same thing has happened above but without me knowing which image was being reported by whom I call the facebook police. I would then have to go through my images and try to figure out which image it might be that was so unruly to their eyes. Nevertheless, I just took it in and slowly went through the images deleting them one at a time. This one? Hmmm. No, maybe this one.

Looking at the offending image that was so kindly removed, it seems that facebook finds buttocks of a shapely young man in some way offensive. Yes, the guy is nude, and so is the image of him standing. The same image which is printed onto paper however is not removed though. Why isn’t it? It is the exactly the same image.

The fact that the post was done in a Closed group and reported directly by facebook makes it difficult for me understand the reasoning behind the way this image was pulled down. It just doesn’t seem to make any sense.

Apparently, facebook indicates:
“We remove photographs of people displaying genitals or focusing in on fully exposed buttocks.” https://m.facebook.com/communitystandards/?section=1

If the image was deemed a fully exposed buttock, then why was the other photograph of same image not pulled down either? And the countless other buttocks photographs that have been posted in my Asian Male Fan Club? Being one of the moderators, I know what goes up. Previously, I allowed guest photographers to post their image of male nudes with their buttocks exposed, but never allowing fully exposed ones. Oh but wait, what exactly is a “fully exposed” buttock? I need examples. 

To confuse matters more, facebook indicates “We also allow photographs of paintings, sculptures and other art that depicts nude figures.” https://m.facebook.com/communitystandards/?section=1
I feel that my photograph is a work of art and that facebook was wrong for pulling down my image. The amount of buttocks showing is hardly revealing enough to justify the action they took.

Evolution of a painting: from start to completion

Painting to me is really the most difficult of all the three mediums I have worked with. There is a huge amount of fear as I approach the white canvas. I recall the first time I started to paint, I bought 2 bottles of red wine to help loosen me up. By the end, I finished the 2 bottles and looked at 4 small paintings that I quickly decided was garbage (the next day). It was so hard, but it broke the edge and fear in me. My largest pieces at the time were around 3 x 4 feet, and then I moved onto larger works. Every time I move to a large canvas I get nervous, because I am feel like I have to make something ‘great’, and that is a lot of pressure. This is why many times, I will put anything onto the canvas at the very beginning. Anything. Crap. Just put something down on that canvas, cause nothing can be worse that what I’ve thrown down. Then work from that stage. At some point during the process, I will return to the same feeling again. It’s very normal to do so, but I just keep going. This is the hardest part because I literally HATE the artwork in front of me. And luckily, for this artwork, something came out and gave me direction as to what to do, and I worked on it longer. Even last night, I was really unsure of the piece, and I told myself. Wait until I see it in the daytime; it might look different. Well… there you go. Windows of Memory, No. 3 is complete and dare I might say, it’s pretty good.

My website: http://normyip.com
To buy the artwork: http://saatchiart.com/normyip

Norm Yip reveals 3.AM at the March Tongzhi Literary Group Meeting

Several months ago I was invited to speak at the Tongzhi Literary Group, an organization that aims to bring gay and lesbian writers and speaker to the forum for informal talks and discussion on the written medium. For the month of March, both myself and two speakers, Timothy Loo and Lap Capistrano took to the helm. I spoke about my newly published book The Asian Male – 3.AM, showing a visual slide presentation of images that appear in the edition; meanwhile Tim and Lap spoke about the aims of Plug Magazine and it’s efforts and obstacles in putting together a publication with virtually no funding. Special thanks to Gregg Schroder for inviting me, Andrew Ashley for the wonderful introduction, Andy Xie for helping me with the event and taking the event photographs. Of course, a very special thanks to everyone that came to hear me talk about my work.

Looking for realness

Realness. Is there such a thing such as this? Being in front of a camera implies a facade to who you are, and who you are is a very nebulous area. Most of the time, when I ask people to just be themselves, they don’t know what that means, but perhaps we can come just a bit closer to our authentic self, without an ego that tries to be this or tries to be that. It’s very easy for me to see when a person is putting on a show for me, in particular the professional fashion models whereby they are required to perform an act for the camera, so as to sell a product. But here is where the difficulty arises.

My Asian male photographs are devoid of clothing, devoid of coverup whereby the human body is exposed and thereby the form and physique plays a primary role as a means to expression. Then of course, the face and the expression if it is shown, then becomes vitally important. The realness is inescapable; the body is bare. In Hong Kong, nudity and sexuality is still taboo; the local people are still very inhibited and conservative. Hong Kong is a close-knit family city of 7 million plus inhabitants in a very small area of land. Our private space is very small, and well guarded. I digress.

In the set of images I have selected from a shoot I took of Wilfred several months ago, I wanted to shoot him without a backdrop and tungsten lighting. I thought I could get something from him that was less posed and more real, and I think I got it in a few of the photographs selected here. There is no retouching of the images, nor have there been any cropping.