Tag Archives: photography

Closer to Truth: painting or photography? 

Someone asked which one I liked more: painting or photography. I didn’t know the answer. It depends I said.

What I do know after investigating both mediums in my work is this: painting lies closer to truth than photography. Paintings (unless you’re merely copying, but that’s a another discussion) reach deeper into yourself, and who you are. It forces you to ask questions and sometimes does not give you a clear answer. It exposes your insecurities and strengths through your creation. You can analyse every action or reaction in a painting. Strong forceful lines and bold strokes versus tentative light actions. On how you go over a section of the canvas, repeatedly until you ‘get it right’, or whether you have the patience to wait for sections of the painting to dry before applying another layer. Believe me, you can end up with big lump of grey! I have seen it in some Philip Guston’s later work. It tell you something about his mindset at the time.  A painting can expose you more than standing naked in the gallery. Truth.

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Philip Guston, “Painter III,” 1963, oil on canvas, 66” x 79” (private collection, London).

Photography on the other hand can deceive you. The photographer can manipulate the image to make you believe what is in the image is real, when it clearly isn’t. Photography is only a partial truth. Fashion photography is a facade/fantasy, meant to inspire and convince. Sure there is a huge amount of creativity involved in fashion shoot and it involves creating illusions, whether it be of wealth, power, coolness or a pure distain for life. I think, even in documentary photography, there is a huge opportunity to distort the truth, to give false claim to what is really happening. It is however probably the strongest case for truth. I think of the young Vietnamese girl Kim Phúc running naked; it is as it is.

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Napalm Girl by Nick Ut

Nude photography attempts to bring one closer to the beauty of the human form. It’s close to truth, but equally close to a lie as well. It is presenting an aesthetic based on the author’s own interpretation of beauty within the human body. So what about portrait photography? Yes it must be the truth right? I think very few portraits does truth justice. They’re rare ones that reach to that level of openness. I can think of one such portrait that come to mind that reveals an inner truth, which is Annie Leibovitz’s photograph of John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

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John Lennon and Yoko Ono by Annie Leibovitz, December 1980.

… to be continued.

Abandoned place; abandoned me….

A few days ago I posted several images from a shoot I took at an abandoned school here in Hong Kong. The series is called Children still play in Kwai Chung. The photographs were of window openings from the inside of the schoolrooms looking out to the outside. What I wrote in my description was the following:

“Abandoned places can be frightening places, but this one felt very much alive because of the new found graffiti that adorned the walls of the building, reminding me of a modern day carnival or amusement park. A child could play here freely. Entering the empty rooms though, I found a quiet beauty inside, mixed and layered with chaos, art, nature, the decaying walls and myself.”

Here are few of the images:

Then this morning, it dawned on me that the photographs were more than the above description. It was a clear reflection of how I was feeling about life at the present time. Recently, I feel like I’m divorced from the world. I am on the inside and it’s dark/lonely; meanwhile everything else is out there. The graffiti on the walls are like my own creativity, I’ve felt like I have been suffocating the past few months. The paying work has been scarce and I have turned inward in my own little bubble, my studio.

There were times when I would get exceedingly depressed, but this was more so the case before my own awakening. I could control (or at least understand) my own situation in life. My awakening allowed me to witness my self and my feelings from a far off vantage point. I have become, in a certain way, numb to life and existence on this plane of consciousness.

I feel most alive when I draw, paint and photograph from my soul. I get lost in the moment, and everything seems to be completely fine. There is nothing wrong; no pain, no suffering, no fear, no anxiety. Sometimes, I do not eat nor drink in those moments of intense being. But these kind of moments are dangerous when one needs to pay the rent and bills, the stuff that the pragmatic world requires of us to deal with. That is when I panic and have anxiety about how to get by in this world at the mature age of fifty-three.

The photographs in the abandoned school are trying to tell me something… You see, the window openings I found at the site are completely open, free to pass through.

To see the entire series: Children still play in Kwai Chung

 

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.

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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.

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Alexis Reynaud, Musashi 00017, 2016, Acrylic on canvas, 61 x 46 cm.
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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
http://www.gallery-box.net/

My blogname has changed: from ‘theasianmale’ to ‘normyipart’ and why the change….

Today, I decided to change the name of the blog name from theasianmale.wordpress.com to normyipart.wordpress.com. The move for this was churning around in my head for some time and finally, I changed it. I felt that ‘the asian male’ was slowly becoming a secondary element in the work that I do, as I will now focus more on my fine art, which includes painting, drawing and whatever I choose to use as my choice medium. [I will of course be still injecting whatever shoots I take on with beautiful Asian men, so don’t worry, that will all come at the right times.]

For those that are on my newsletter mailing list, I sent out the following image and words:

Norm-Yip-Art---flyer

This is going to be a long newsletter with more words that describe the events that have happened in the last while, and my re-positioning of priorities. Please bear with me….

Every now and then I have to go through my own personal satori, my own path of awakening when I have diverted from my true nature. And when that satori hits, it hits very hard and the circumstances leave me devasted inside. You see: I have enormous fear in me. I have several times pushed myself away from art and sought to have refuge in other places that do not resonate with me, and I end up paying the consequences.

Two years ago in 2013, I moved my studio from one suite to another in the same building where I am now. It was physical change that resulted from a change in mindset, a change in attitude towards my existence. Strangely, my fascination with science lead me to a youtube video about what is reality from the viewpoint of quantum physics, and that led me to Eckhart Tolle and the Akashic records. This all reminded me of something deeper within myself that I had touched on in 1999, when I had my first satori. It is not an error for when things happen.

My website http://normyip.com will now contain my most recent work in fine art. The artwork contains most importantly, my work in painting (acrylic and mixed-media) and my graphite pieces. My photography takes actually a secondary role (although many only know me in this capacity). The website will serve as my portfolio for galleries to approach me, and for me to showcase my work to them. [Yes, I am seeking representation from galleries outside of Hong Kong/Asia. If you know of any gallery that I should approach, please let me know, or forward my newsletter to them with a short message.]

Furthermore, I have also created a profile in Saatchi Art, at http://saatchiart.com/normyip. There, you will see my current list of paintings for sale along with the pricing. I have been fortunate enough to see one of my paintings sold within a few weeks of being posted. A nice little perk that tells me I am going in the right direction.

Chatting to a new friend today, he asked me: What would you say your happiest moment to date as an artist?

I replied: Every time I complete a new artwork that I find complete and whole. Now, I have happiest moments all the time.

Take good care, and until the next newsletter.

Norm Yip | Visual Artist

‘Dreaming of me’, mixed-media of photography and painting combined

For years, I have resisted the use of photoshop manipulation and layers using frequency separations to create artwork. I always felt it was the easy way out making anything look artistic, and thus, refrained from using this technique in making my work. The majority of my photographic work pertained to the traditional standards of black and white, focusing more on light, shadow, form and texture. Most recently though, I have started to introduce painting back into my staple of mediums, and using ink transfer techniques using a printer and toner to create my art. And the results have been very satisfying. But I also felt it was okay for me to do this also in the realm of computer technology, and using Photoshop to assist in the melding of photography and my acrylics. This one I feel is more successful than ‘Creation, not by chance’.

As this image is not an actual print at this time, it will come a time to actually actualize the artwork. Please let me know if you are interested in owing this; I would be happy to work something out.

Dreaming of me, 2015, mixed media, by Norm Yip
Dreaming of me, 2015, mixed media, by Norm Yip

A little bit more…
Someone on facebook asked me about the above image.

He asks: Is it all digital or did you actually paint over the digital print of Hes?

My reply: Mike, there are 2 elements that are combined: 1) photograph of Hes, and 2) a textured painting. I am attaching the texture painting here. I used Photoshop to combine the two layers together. I can’t remember the frequency separations now since I did several, plus I desaturated some layers.(some colors were quite intense when I layered them). Also, I did a few high passes to the images to make the edges/textures pop out more.

Below is the painting I used to combine the photograph of Hes with. ground

3.AM Book Launch Party Pics

Putting a book together is no small task, and as they say, the real work comes after the book is printed and published. You need to get the word out. So my first little event was the book launch of The Asian Male – 3.AM, which was held at the quaint and hip Culture Club this past Thursday. Attended by fans and new faces, and including several models from the book, it was a blast. Thank to everyone that came and showed their support.

For those in the dark about what the book is about, it’s my third photography book using the Asian Male face and body as my chosen subject. Mostly all the images are of the nude, exemplifying the beauty and sensuality of the male form. There is a touch of fashion, some erotica and bondage images. To get a sense of the work that I do, you can see some images at http://theasianmale.com, but I’ll post some shots later. The work is very personal and I’m more classically trained as far as my approach to how I see and capture an image. I’m not fond of overly manipulated (photoshopped) images, but on the rare occasion.

3.AM finally arrives and it’s great!

The 3.AM books have finally arrived and they look absolutely great. This was what I was designing and slaving over the past 6 months, and it is certainly a joy to look at. Here are some shots of my assistant Philippa helping pack and sort out the books. None of this is easy, and the database of purchased books, addresses, labels and changes/amendments all need to be checked and double-checked.

Order the book directly from me and I will personally sign your book. ORDER

The Asian Male exhibition in Zurich

A few short weeks have passed since the exhibition opening of The Asian Male show in Zurich and I thought I would post several shots of the night, along with the exhibition images.

I will never forget the fiasco when trying to get out of Hong Kong while the second day of the protests were on. I had difficulty getting to the airport while struggling to carry my luggage, prints and camera bag. I missed my flight as a result and had to quickly call the airline for the next available flight. Luckily, I managed to take the next flight out and arrive in Zurich on the same day, but late at night, versus the day.

You cannot imagine the stress of carting along 14 pieces of matted art to an overseas exhibition. Anything could happen, such as the artwork could get sent to another city, the box could be damaged (seeing how people throw luggage around is not exactly comforting) or get soiled if the weather got foul. Then I was thinking, what if the framers in Zurich got the dimensions wrong? Or what if the glass that was custom cut broke during the installation of the artwork (we had to go the actual framing ourselves since it wouldn’t be enough time for the framer to do it).

In addition, the gallery where I was showing didn’t have a hanging system installed, but I told Thomas that I would help out with that, so long as I didn’t have to do the drilling (seeing as I have had vertigo the past several months that won’t go away). We framed the artwork the night before the exhibition and installed the hanging system on the day of the exhibition. It was rather insane. We got the artwork up in time for exhibition, but the food and drinks were a bit of a mess. We had no ice for the wine we bought and at 6:30, well into the opening with a few guests, Thomas ran out to pick up the ice. Warm white wine would not do.

The exhibition managed to bring in about a modest but very enthusiastic group of what I would call academics and hard core enthusiasts of photography. They really seemed to understand what I was trying to do with the photography, and were very knowledgable about the formal aspects of the medium. It was refreshing to hear.


Special thank to Michael Harald Dellefant, who kindly agreed to let me post a few of his images taking during the opening night.

The selection of the photographs that appeared in exhibition are shown below.

The exhibition continues until November 1, 2014.
GALLERY BOX Birmensdorferstrasse 187 Zürich, Switzerland
T. +41 76 344 60 60

Please contact me or the gallery owner Thomas Sarbach for more information if you are interested in more details of the artwork.

Preparations for my first photography exhibition in Europe

Firstly, the book that everyone has been waiting for is still in the midst of being printed, apparently. After receiving the email that they would redo the entire set of books, I am waiting for them to give me a set date on when I can see them. They didn’t ask me in for the press check (not that it would necessarily be needed, as it was done previously). And now, I wait patiently to receiving the first review books. I just sent a gentle reminder to them to see if I would get them this week. No reply yet. I want to have a few to take with me Zurich.

For the many friend and supporters, I will announce the date of the book launch in Hong Kong once I have seen the reprint of the books, but it will be certainly after my return from Europe in mid-October.

So yes, I have an exhibition in Switzerland. If you’re around in Zurich on 3 October, drop Gallery Box for the reception. I would love to see you there.

GALLERY BOX, Birmensdorferstrasse 187, Zürich, Switzerland, T. +41 76 344 60 60, E. info@thomassarbach.com

The Asian Male, Photography Exhibition in Zurich
The Asian Male, Photography Exhibition in Zurich

It will be my first time showing my work outside of Asia, so yes, I am nervous about the response I will be getting. I’ve printed the artwork on Matt Art photo paper by Hahnemühle and the results look , I admit, superb. I still haven’t mastered the art of digital printing and wasted a lot of paper and ink, but it’s really worth it. I felt it was a bit like darkroom days, waiting for the print to appear, but with a less ‘magical’ feeling to the experience.

The prints were churned out over the weekend after falling slightly ill Friday night and all of Saturday, so in the wee hours of Sunday morning 6am, I was content to leave the studio. Today I signed them and delivered them to my framer in Central. It was rather a smooth day. My intern Philippa, a lovely young and aspiring student, was here to help me put together the price list.  So while I was proudly signing the prints, I talked about  ICC profiles, paper and printers. Shop talk that we both could relate to, as we both loved 2-D materials such as paper and  textures.

A Question of Quality: The Rise of Luxury Books

The Asian male - 3.am

As many of my followers know, my planned book launch on the 27 August was postponed, due to the unfortunate discovery that the printers and binders did an unsatisfactory or unacceptable job on both the printing and the binding. There were smudges on specific pages in the books, imperfect cutting of the pages, and crooked binding on too many of the books. I had to reject the entire lot and postpone the book launch, as difficult as it was. So now I’m in the process of having them all redone again, but done right.

What is rather unusual is that Hong Kong prides itself as one of the best printers in the world, and problems like the ones I received is certainly not the norm. Previously, my books have never had such a problem. Friends who have worked in the printing industry say that the shipment of books should never have left the factory.

One of my fans, however, then said to me that it was the photography of my Asian male models was the most important thing, that the binding of the book should be treated as secondary in nature. Although I can agree that the photography is vital to my work, the presentation of the work is a crucial and necessary part of the experience. The book takes the experience out of the monitor (a visual experience only) and translates it to a physical 3-dimensional experience, where touch and even smell is brought forth to our senses. As mentioned in my other posts, the thickness of the paper, the texture of the paper and the smell of cut paper and ink, combined with the images, text and typeface, all become one. This is where the art of the book making and binding come into play, as it plays a significant roll when it comes to art books (such as mine), where the above and the quality of the printing must be treated with care.

So with the majority of magazines taking the move to digital, where does that leave the printing industry? Much like photography, the digital mode of creating images have supplanted film. To me, I have a strong belief that books of high quality (both in content and design), will survive. Why? Because I feel that books represent a part of the population that demand quality. For just pure information, the internet is good enough, and far faster; we don’t need books for that. But the book loving population will grow, especially among those that desire something of permanence, where the book shelf, library or coffee table is a sign of sophistication and culture. (I am not fond of the word ‘luxury’ since it’s overused, but it is close to the meaning I’m searching for.)

In the meantime, besides making sure my reprint of books is done to the standard I expect and deserve, I am planning on my first exhibition of Asian Male photographs in Europe — in the beautiful city of Zurich! More on that in the next post.