Donate button
Donate arrow

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto | Pakistan

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto | Pakistan image

What significance does the act of stitching have to your artwork?

Craft is the language of the soil – it is how a culture expresses itself and in Pakistan, textile and needle work are integral to who we are. The act itself of stitching is a type of bonding with the work – the medium forces you to hold and investigate every part of your piece and by the end you’ve created something that truly feels like it is a part of you.


What message, if any, do you hope audiences will derive from your work?

This work aims to show the result of climate change on my province of Sindh in Pakistan which was the most badly affected by the 2022 floods. In an era where humanity attempts to control all things natural – we realize that we do a disservice to no one else but ourselves. The river and water systems of South Asia have never been static – they move as they will – creating and destroying civilizations but always sustaining. Perhaps it is time we thought with nature, rather than against it.


In what way has art positively impacted your life?

Art has allowed me to be connected to my culture and people no matter where I am in the world and to me that is essential. Furthermore it allows me to communicate without ever having to use words.

Tang Kwong San | Hong Kong

Tang Kwong San | Hong Kong image

How did you first come across the book ‘Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea’? What inspired you to create an artwork based on it?

I first came across this book at a vintage book store in Mong Kok 9 years ago. The book depicts many late night moments in North Korea, seemingly unrelated to me, but it somehow got translated to my language. The Chinese title of the book “we are ★ the happiest” (我們★最幸福) has a red pentagram (a five-pointed star) between the text. When I started making the series “Night Birds,” I collected the images of pentagram from different sources, such as films, internet, and books etc, trying to play with the symbolic meanings of pentagram in different contexts.


What significance does the title ‘Night Birds’ have to your work?

“Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea” details a lot of things in daily life that are prohibited by the North Korean government. People hug, kiss, and smuggle in the dark… They become nocturnal animals in order to live a life, like birds flying at night.


In what way has art positively impacted your life?

As an artist, I believe art is a real existence and a way of expression.

Tam Tak-Hei | Hong Kong

Tam Tak-Hei | Hong Kong image

Why were you initially drawn to the specific apartment building referenced in your work?

Wandering and observing occupy a large proportion of my art practice. I like to wander on the street to look for inspiration. I am interested in the architectural elements and “nooks and crannies” of our surroundings, the easily overlooked objects in daily life.

Staying in Taiwan for a period of time, I observed some archetypical architectural elements on the streets of Taiwan. The apartment building referenced in my work was discovered during one of my wandering journeys around the streets near my studio in Taiwan. Large-scale billboards on the facades of buildings could be commonly found in Taiwan, some even filled up the buildings and the original facades are being covered. This practice sparked my interests. It makes me wonder what the original facades of the building look like, and how the large-scale billboards became the new facades, triggering my imaginations on the forms of the original facades.


What is the significance of having part of your artwork wearable?

My works could often transit from miniature to wearable. I focus on the transition from object to wearable, from life-size to miniature, from display to body, from overlooked to focused, from distanced to intimate. Treating the human body as the architectural interface, jewellery bridges the linkage between those
archetypical/overlooked architectural elements in our daily life and our own body.

We usually keep a physical distance from the architectural elements in our daily life. We used to gaze at the elements from a distance, and seems like they are unreachable. However, making them into wearable pieces could let us touch and feel their forms as objects. Putting part of the artwork on the body acts as a kind of testimony of the living experiences in a city, shortening the distance between our body and those architectural forms. For this work, the wearable part transits from the facade of the architecture to the facade of our body. The add-on of the building is extended to become the add-on of the body.


In what way has art positively impacted your life?

Art encourages me to keep observing and discovering the overlooked details in daily life, finding the characteristics from the ordinaries.

Stanley Shum | Hong Kong

Stanley Shum | Hong Kong image

Can you elaborate a bit more on the scene that you have captured in your artwork?

This bright-colored painting depicts the nighttime in suburban scenery, with a perspective that places the viewers at a far-off distance, which exhibits a sense of desolation and leads spectators into a resplendent and yet vast new world.

To me, this is an artwork about relocation, emphasizing in the changes in regional culture. On the one hand, my father was born in Shenzhen, just like many others in that era, he swam to Hong Kong for a better life in the 1970s, just a few years before the launch of China’s reform and opening-up policy. I asked my father, “How could he tell direction in the sea at night?” “Hong Kong was a city full of neon signs, one can see a shining land when you swam across the border,” he said, in a poetic manner. On the other hand, in recent years, many Hong Kong residents have chosen to emigrate, this includes my sister.

I borrowed the classic theme “Where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going?” to reveal the continued dilemmas that Hong Kong people are facing in regard to their identity as Hongkongers. Neither a utopia nor dystopia, my intention is simple that I would like to present a combined visual story of my family background which echoes with social groups in this era of tumultuous transformation.


What inspires you about the song ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’? In what ways does it relate to your work?

The lyrics scrawled across the top of the painting are selected from the classical song “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina”, later included in the 1978 musical of the same name. Which is a song pointing towards the life of Eva Perón who served as First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952. Initially, as the spirit of the dead Eva exhorts the people of Argentina not to mourn her. Throughout her short life, she actively promoted democratic politics and economic reforms in Argentina.

The “misappropriation” of the words will somehow disambiguate the song’s lyrics, evacuate and/ but strengthen the original cultural significance simultaneously, as well as introduce another perspective and regenerate new meanings. It is my attempt to emphasize the feeling of those who leave home and those who stayed nowadays, a kind of reluctant perhaps, while also contemplating what has been lost or faded in our society.


In what way has art positively impacted your life?

Most of the time when I am painting, I don’t really have a very clear plan, I just try my best to follow my heart, choose a point on the canvas randomly and start with a few lines and see what is going on, the colors and lines on the canvas will tell me what I like and dislike honestly in the process, which can further flex my imaginations, thus, generating more possibilities, which keeps me inspired. Ultimately to me, making art is all about chasing freedom, understanding the outside world (and finding a way of exit) and inner self. It is a kind of spiritual cultivation.

Sophie Cheung Hing Yee | Hong Kong

Sophie Cheung Hing Yee | Hong Kong image

What first drew you to using ink and erasers as your medium?

Series Work “Erasing News” has evolved from the experience of reading news on my iPhone during the social unrest in Hong Kong 4 years ago. I attempted to read newspapers in the public library when I felt overwhelmed with reading news on my small iPhone screen. Then, I picked up an eraser to erase the newspaper, series work “Erasing News” had taken place from this simple act.


Do the colours transferred onto the white erasers hold any significance to the meaning of your work?

I’ll not say the colours “transferred” onto the white erasers. This is a state of in-betweeness and a transformative process for the two protagonists – erasers and newspapers. With the simple act of erasing newspapers, ink colours are adopted and transformed into the liquid form in a simultaneous effort of addition and subtraction of matter, so that is ‘erasing as painting’.

The erasers, at first with the distant impenetrability of stone or marble, gradually reveal their softness, and their inherent imperfections upon contact. Responding to the urgency of news across the social unrest, I both preserves and eradicates times and colours from the act of erasing. As if urging calm by force majeure, I intervene to lessen the impact of the written message whilst elevating its materiality into an object of artistic scrutiny. Since then, newspapers is not only the day-to-day time achieve, but also a time tunnel which allow me to escape from reality, getting through and connecting my inner world in-depth.

The erasers become subjects of their own destiny, capable of eliciting empathy. Like bars of soap, they occupy the space between hard and soft, they lose their shape and strength even as they take on the characteristics of the bodies they interact with. Coming together in one artwork, they assume a group identity whilst retaining their individual stories and motives in the cityscape. The result hovers in-between the past and the present, a synthesis of viewpoints, sorrows and celebrations, merged into a state which is constantly temporary, but it just creates the time monuments.


In what way has art positively impacted your life?

In my lifetime, I had studied Art for six years – I obtained the Certificate of Visual Art and Diploma of Fine Art at Hong Kong Art School between 19 and 22 years old. After ten years, a years of working on human rights advocacy, cultural studies and poetry, I come back to the same institution for further Fine Art studies. After that, I received the training on doing interdisciplinary research when I studied MA Applied anthropology and Community Arts at Goldsmiths, University of London (2020-2022).

In this long learning journey, I have been influenced by so many pioneering contemporary artists and urbanists including Ivan Chtcheglov, Francis Alys, Joseph Beuys, Mona Hatoum, Roni Horn, Zainab Hikmet, Ann Hamiltion, Felix Gonzales Torres, Sophie Calle, Emily Jacir, Gabriel Orozco, Ana Mendieta. Ivan Chtcheglov constructed the concept ‘drifting’ by his publication Formulary for a New Urbanism (1953), in which stated that One’s ability to identity where “function” ends and “play” begins…It stimulates me to discover how the nexus of the found objects with its transformative symbolism and the public space socially produced as the reflection of humanity in our urban life.

I am also fascinated by Francis Alys’ work ‘When Faith Moves Mountains’(2002) that is his attempt to dermanticize Land art by collaboration with community. It evokes the possibilities of cultural revitalization by creating liminal time and space. Therefore, I feel free in the art-making processes when I do not frame myself into any identities or social roles. It also re-discovers and connects to my personal inner world.

Shrimanti Saha | India

Shrimanti Saha | India image

Why do you believe that story-telling through art is important?

Storytelling through art opens up the possibility of creating narratives which could be fictional or real; personal or socio-political. Stories can be conveyed through a range of mediums and practices. For me, the act of drawing forms the basis of developing narratives. I think of my work as a personal mythology, alternative history or as an anthology of untold stories; through which I am able to create a world of my own and take the poetic license of exploring references from numerous sources.


Your work draws upon a myriad of historical and contemporary references. Can you elaborate on these points of inspiration?

In my work, I create layered story structures with references from different sources like history, mythology, science fiction, news reports, comic books, architecture, movies, art history etc. and even conversation and personal experiences. I usually absorb a lot of information in the form of text and images before making a body of work; then a massive session of editing happens and most of the time, my interest gravitates towards content affiliating to themes of identity, gender, ecology, violence and exploitation.


In what way has art positively impacted your life?

Art provides me the freedom to be myself completely. As an individual, I sometimes find it difficult to fit into the larger society around me; but through the privilege of making art I am able to escape into a world of reveries and aspiration. There is always a thrill of making the next work or the challenge of venturing into areas which I haven’t explored before; and the best part is when the anticipation and challenge becomes a way of life.

Sharon Lee | Hong Kong

Sharon Lee | Hong Kong image

Why have you chosen to feature a cheongsam in your artwork?

My projects are often inspired by some found images, from the family album or from historical photographs. As soon as I found this handmade Cheongsam of Grandma featured in the first family photo, I wanted to develop a project with it. I discovered that a poetic connection between my family history and the textile industry of Hong Kong in the old days was weaved into this specific object.

My grandfather owned a small textile factory in Kowloon City in the 1960-70s. Beautiful clothes were exported to America and worldwide, while my grandmother would use the fabric remnants to make clothes for herself and the family. The work is very material-driven. From the fabric of the Cheongsam to a cracked porcelain imprint, the faded memory of Grandma and the bygone industry of the city come together. The two parallel narratives weave into more complex layers.

What significance does the use of light and dark have to your work?

I directly imprint the Cheongsam onto the porcelain clay slab in tracing the details of the object as a relief. The porcelain plate is very thin therefore it has a translucent quality. The brokenness and the openness are complementary. The light shines through the crack and reveals the traces of the imprinted Cheongsam. The work explores the delicate relations between the attempts to recall and the memories one could hold on to.

I used these translucent porcelain plate, like a film, for creating gelatin silver prints. When the light pass through the porcelain relief, I found an interesting imagery of an x-ray impression, unveiling the internal essence of the object. To me, it is like recasting with light. Furthermore, I experimented the traditional darkroom technique of solarization, as a way to create variations with a same motif in repetition.

It is a highly time-consuming and slow process. I abandoned the rapidness and mechanics of camera and embrace light as the medium of the work.


In what way has art positively impacted your life?

Art allows me to express beyond words. The lightness of being, the heaviness of memory, the weightless of time can be convey in art.

Shaarbek Amankul | Kyrgyzstan

Shaarbek Amankul | Kyrgyzstan image

Your work references your worldview, which values a distinction between ‘need’ and ‘desire’. Can you elaborate on what this means to you?

The importance of distinguishing between needs and desires, and how this differentiation has been lost in modern society, leading to a destructive relationship with the natural world. The comparison between the behavior of humans and animals, such as wolves, highlights the excessive and harmful exploitation of nature by humans to fulfill their desires, rather than their basic needs. Also highlights the contradiction between laws and regulations for protecting nature and the privilege given to some individuals to hunt and exploit it.

The project reminds people of their responsibility towards the natural world and the need for a sustainable approach to living in harmony with nature. It suggests that individuals should be aware of their constructive and destructive potential and strive to use it in a socially tolerable way. The work also emphasizes the importance of personal responsibility in understanding the eternal living process and avoiding mass consumerism that leads to destructive behavior towards nature.

The loss of the ability to distinguish between need and desire can lead to unsustainable practices that harm the environment and society. This can be seen in the way that some modern societies have become disconnected from the natural world and prioritized the satisfaction of desires over the fulfillment of essential needs. This can result in overuse and depletion of natural resources, which can have negative consequences for both the environment and human society in the long run.

Overall, the work calls for a more conscious and responsible approach towards the natural world and highlights the dangers of excessive exploitation of nature for selfish desires. Recognizing the distinction between need and desire and prioritizing the fulfillment of essential needs is essential for promoting a sustainable and balanced relationship between humankind and the natural world.


What is the significance of the pattern that borders your artwork?

The pattern on the artwork serves as a visual representation of the interconnectedness between family, culture, and the natural world. The use of stylized flowers, animals, and patterns from nomadic traditions can be seen as a powerful connection to their cultural heritage that has been passed down through generations and further emphasizes the importance of maintaining a connection to traditional cultural practices and can be seen as a source of strength and resilience that allow cultures to maintain their unique identity and resist homogenization.

In a broader sense, these elements look like the norms by which the four categories of human relations are regulated. They are designed to bring harmony to people’s lives in the natural and social environment. These are relations: between man and God, man and his inner world, people and nature, it has a symbolic or spiritual significance.

This idea is in line with the concept of sustainable living and a balanced relationship between humankind and the environment. Overall, the pattern in the artwork has multiple layers of meaning and significance, ranging from cultural heritage to spiritual and environmental values. The question of whether traditions can overcome the hegemony of globalization or if local culture is forever changed by the global is a complex and ongoing debate in the field of cultural studies.


In what way has art positively impacted your life?

Overall, art has had a deep and positive impact on my life as an artist, both personally and in my interactions with others. Art allows me to express my emotions and feelings through contemporary art
and inspires me to be creative and come up with new ideas, which leads to personal and professional growth and freedom of self-expression, helping me to open a window to different cultures and appreciate and understand the diversity of the world.

Art also provides a great opportunity to bring people together to communicate, share their experiences, and helps develop critical thinking skills, overcome cultural and language barriers, and promote intercultural understanding.

Saule Dyussenbina | Kazakhstan

Saule Dyussenbina | Kazakhstan image

What do you find inspirational about Kazakh culture?

I am Kazakh and live in Kazakhstan. First of all, I am inspired by the people and the country where I live. The mix of traditional culture and the fact that Kazakhstan has been open to the world for 30 years creates interesting discoveries and works in Kazakhstan.


Why have you chosen red to depict the scenes in your work?

For some time now, the red color has been for me a symbol or a sign of something definite and established. I draw people in red, I turn them into symbols of time.


In what way has art positively impacted your life?

I can’t imagine my life outside of art. This is what gives meaning to my existence and fills my life with various emotions.



Priyanka Singh Maharjan | Nepal

Priyanka Singh Maharjan | Nepal image

You mention that your works are mostly process-based, can you elaborate a bit more on your artistic process?

My work is highly aware of mediums and processes. I draw parallels between processes and what materials say and how they contribute to a concept. In one of my exhibitions “The passage of time and what remains,” I worked on the concept of home and memories, where I transferred images from paper to fabrics and later embroidered them. Embroidery feels close to home, my grandmother taught me how to embroider. The photographs in my works aptly show the physical memory while the embroideries are the remains of what I can recall. Incorporating embroidery and photographs in my artwork was an attempt to find individuality and at the same time being aware of the connections between the materials I was working with and the ideas I was conceptualising.

These works are extremely personal and unavoidably common. I believe many people can identify with the ideas I explore. I am creating a body of work that not only encourages people to reflect on their own memories, but also awakens their appreciation of the beauty and wonder that memories have the potential to create. And at the same time, I attempt to find my individuality and create artworks that are not just for the sake of making art but serve as something that inspires viewers to see their own individuality.


What do you find inspirational about the concept of memory?

I have a strong sense of memory and all these connections with memories started subconsciously from my early childhood. I grew up with a hearing condition. Hearing less meant looking around and observing more. These observations engraved memories in the form of colours, textures and images.

When I started exploring these subconsciously reserved moments, I started understanding the making of myself. What started as an attempt to create artworks as a tribute to my grandmother has become a means to explore my identity. For the past five years, I have relentlessly studied the place I come from, collected old photographs, and talked about my family history with everyone I am close with. These explorations continue to proffer endless visual fodder over the time.


In what way has art positively impacted your life?

I am a first generation artist in my family. I come from a indigenous family of farmers and art was far from my list of what I wanted to do with my life. I had a two-year stint as a student of Chartered Accountancy and Business Studies. The monotonous studying often frustrated me and I took to drawing for relief. The arts pulled me in and I quit the course to join the Bachelors in Fine Arts program at Kathmandu University.

That whim of a decision has taught me so much about myself and where I come from, more than I ever learned in my life until then. The past few years have been a continuous journey of self exploration and documenting my roots and reflecting on the areas of interest in more depth. It has given me a space to grow, be more mindful about the skills that have been passed down over the generations and helped push the boundaries of my capacities.

Parul Gupta | India

Parul Gupta | India image

What first interested you in the themes of geometry and light?

My interest in geometry and light is in response to my interest in movement in architecture. Movement in architecture is an organised system of various types of movements stimulated by specific architectural elements such as – the twist and turn of the body, vertical and oblique movement, long and short perspectives, open and close & dark and light spaces and overlapping geometries. Geometrical forms and natural light are two of the foremost elements which are constantly in motion in architectural spaces – geometrical forms through parallax and natural light through the passage of time.

Is there any relevance to your chosen colours?

I have mostly worked with black and white as it also signifies light and dark/ shadow. Its minimal presence binds the context of perception and cognition. Previously when I’ve used colour, it is often minimal too, absorbed between black and white and is mostly guided by the work itself.

While making this work, for the first time in a decade, I started to get interested in the interaction of different colours. The colour interaction and intensity multiplies on paper itself, instead of mixing on the palette, through addition of layers. The choice of color has no significant reason except different color interaction with black and white layered on each other.


In what way has art positively impacted your life?

Art has a positive impact on my emotional and mental well being. I could wade through the most difficult situations in life because I always have art to fall back on. Engaging with any form of art is a way of life for me, whether its making my own work or experiencing someone else’s

Nguyễn Thế Sơn | Vietnam

Nguyễn Thế Sơn | Vietnam image

Can you tell us a bit more about the protest that took place in this building? What did the protest hope to achieve?

The protest was made exactly in 2 days, from April 30th and May 1st in 2018. After nearly a year when the community in our Helios Tower building experienced a lot of troubles with a construction company. Hanging the national flag on this special day seemed to be our last opportunity to show our attitude, kind of like making an SOS sign to the government.

After 2 days hanging nearly 1000 national flags from almost all the balconies of the apartments, we made a really strong attraction that drew attention from a lot of media. We had an opportunity to express our voices as well as share our patriotic inspiration with society. After the protest, we received some positive results to protect the benefits of the community living in Helios Tower building.


What does the symbol of the Vietnamese flag mean to you?

The symbol of the Vietnamese flag depends on how we use it.


In what way has art positively impacted your life?

For artists and curators like me Vietnam, my practice in visual art is the best way to show my point of view in the value of diversity in art practice. Contemporary art in Vietnam is still not really developed. Photography is still not considered an artistic medium like painting of sculpture, so I often practice in fine art photography as the way to show freedom in expression in art as well as engagement in social research.

Maha Ahmed | Pakistan

Maha Ahmed | Pakistan image

How important is your choice of colour palette to the meaning of your work? And your use of coffee stained paper?

During the early stages of my artistic journey, my focus was on using monochromatic tones, particularly in black or various shades of blue. As time passed, I carefully honed my color palette through extensive experimentation and thoughtful reflection. A pivotal point in my development as an artist occurred while I was working at an illustration studio in Tokyo, under the guidance of Masaaki Yamada-san and his exceptionally talented team. The supportive and collaborative environment allowed me to freely explore and experiment with color, which ultimately informed my personal practice.

A crucial aspect of my creative process is the act of drawing the viewer in by encouraging them to examine the intricate details of each piece. Through the use of color, I can direct the viewer’s eye and guide them through the painting, granting me greater control over the experience. Color also plays a vital role in establishing the mood of each work; some pieces may exude a playful energy, while others may evoke a sense of depth and introspection.

By utilizing coffee-stained paper, I am able to create a muted aesthetic and incorporate negative spaces into my compositions, further enhancing the visual impact of each painting.


Can you elaborate on the symbolism behind the creatures and wildlife in your work?

The creatures found in my paintings are inspired by real-life animals, transformed into otherworldly beings. Among these, the crane has played a particularly significant role, serving as a representation of myself in my work. Other animals I depict symbolize specific virtues and traits: these come from historical depictions of certain entities, for example the monkey as a mimic, the raven for wisdom and a demon portrays uncertainty.

I also draw inspiration from outlying animals found in traditional illuminated manuscripts, which are used to emphasize the importance of the other while attempting to reconcile the self. By transforming these animals into otherworldly creatures, I aim to create a sense of timelessness and universality in my artwork. Much like the trees and rock formations I depict, these creatures exist beyond a specific time or geographical context, allowing viewers to immerse themselves in a surreal and dreamlike world.


Encouraging freedom of expression through art is integral to what we do at The Sovereign Art Foundation. In what way has art positively impacted your life?

My practice functions as a tool for introspection, a continuity of self portraits ever evolving with time. I feel the importance of this much more since the birth of my daughter. I felt very alone in the whole process even though I have the most supportive partner and loving family to back me up, always.

I carried her alone, and only I felt what it was like when she left my body. It’s beautiful yet extremely lonely. “Behind every shadow” is a part of the series I created after becoming a mother. It depicts the uncertainty and discomfort felt during the early days of motherhood. Working through my emotions has always brought me to the other side stronger. I feel privileged to be able to process my feelings through painting, and I would be lost without it. It grounds me and keeps me sane.


Luis Antonio Santos | Philippines

Luis Antonio Santos | Philippines image

What drew you to use an everyday object such as Venetian blinds as the subject of your work?

My practice has always revolved around the idea of the fragility of memories and entropy—what we remember and forget—and how this distortion, trauma and deterioration informs our identity and how we locate ourselves. Throughout my practice I’ve been interested in using materials that function as walls or borders and how these can be metaphors for our feelings about how we understand the world around us, our experiences and our place in it.

This work is part of a series that was made and started while experiencing the lockdowns in Manila, one of the strictest and longest in the world. I am intrigued in how this image can conjure notions of isolation and detachment, of days blurring together.

Isolated in a room, the windows became a border, a liminal space. A physical barrier between spaces, stuck in limbo.


The title of your work relates to a line in Apocalypse Now. In what ways is your work related to the film?

During the early parts of the lockdowns in Manila, I started to consume a lot of bleak, dystopian media in what I think was a coping mechanism. Written by John Milius, the title is from the opening scene where Martin Sheen’s character, Captain Willard was reading from his journal which was voiced over a scene where he was delirious, drunk and in a frenzy probably experiencing PTSD in a Saigon hotel room.

The scene parallels feelings of fear, anxiety, and being stuck in a liminal space that was prevalent for me during the lockdowns.


Encouraging freedom of expression through art is integral to what we do at The Sovereign Art Foundation. In what way has art positively impacted your life?

Art allows me to be able to articulate my feelings, thoughts and experiences about the world around me. It is a privilege to be able to share my works and open a possibility of dialogue with other people. Art making gave me a sense of identity and dignity.

Lindy Lee | Australia

Lindy Lee | Australia image
In what ways does your culture and heritage influence your work?
My culture and heritage have everything to do with my work, as they are formative to my own becoming. The initial direction my practice took back in the 80’s was born out of feelings of displacement – of not being comfortable with my Chinese heritage in a country that legally discriminated against those of non-European ethnic origin. So my early work grappled with questions of identity and belonging, and art was the way I could process and transmute these difficult emotions.After discovering Zen Buddhism, however, these questions became much more expansive. They evolved from the personal to the universal, questioning the very nature of existence beyond the complexities of selfhood. These meditations have naturally imbued themselves through my work and still do to this day. Zen (Ch’an) is an ancient Chinese spirituality, and as such, has provided me with a means of connecting quite deeply with my ancestors – ancestors whose language and culture had been largely withheld from my upbringing.

What significance does fire and the act of burning have to ‘Snowflakes and Fire’?

For the past decade I have been working with the elemental – fire, water, air, etc. These elements are the fundamental building blocks of nature. So when working with fire, for example, I am engaging with this very primordial force that lies at the heart of our existence. In so doing, I am trying to bring, experientially, a sense of wonder and intimate connection with all.

Each of these elements hold immense potentiality – both for creativity, yet also for destruction. ‘Snowflakes and Fire’ speaks to this dichotomy – the yin and the yang, and all that’s in between.

In what way has art positively impacted your life?

All art is a re-presentation of our experience in the world – whether personal or collective, tangible or intangible. Our ability to transform these subtleties and complexities into things that we can see, touch, hear and taste, enables us to connect and communicate with one another and the world in which we live. In this way, art facilitates a greater sense of belonging and kinship with cosmos.

Li Shun | China

Li Shun | China image

What initially inspired you to begin travelling via Google Maps?

As we all know, in the past three years, my life has revolved around the “post-epidemic era”, so how do we view the world? This question became my focus and led me to start creating.

About “Travelling on the Internet”, it started from my solo exhibition in Los Angeles in 2019. I had never been to Los Angeles before that. So, until then, all I knew about America was through pop music, movies, books, etc. I happened to walk around Los Angeles through the street view mode of Google Maps.

However, my way of viewing is very similar to “Armchair Travel” in ancient China. For example, like ancient emperors and nobles, by appreciating “A Thousand Miles of Rivers and Mountains”, which is similar to a long scroll of landscape calligraphy and painting, they can stay at home. See thousands of miles. When I was in China during the lockdown period of the new museum, I had to look at the world through Google Maps again. Because accessing Google in China requires a VPN to assist in logging in, this process will bring many uncertainties, such as network freezes, bugs, and some network obstacles. For example, “Floating Flags”, this situation of realism, gave me a kind of surreal illusion.


How is your work influenced by internet and popular culture?

The development of science and technology has added many forms of art, and also brought many possibilities for artists to create. The Internet has played such a role in my creation. It has helped me create many possibilities in terms of creative inspiration and form. At the same time, I have obtained a lot of useful information in the process of practicing practice and exploring research. Even with the technological Internet as a bridge for my creation, my work is not too much influenced by practical pop culture.

Since I was born and currently live in the Jiangsu and Zhejiang regions of China, the characteristics of these two places are the places where the traditional Chinese literati art self is most developed. Secondly, my creation mainly explores the background of material culture, explores the characteristics of Chinese culture, and combines Internet technology to create new ones, break through traditional boundaries, and bring new forms of artistic expression with multiple possibilities.

In addition, the question that I have been thinking about is the current era of traditional Chinese literati art. Traditional art not only needs to be inherited, but also needs to be developed to have a relationship with this era. For example, the works shortlisted this time, the series of Internet sketches, are the concept of “lying travel” in traditional Chinese literati art.


In what way has art positively impacted your life?

I think art provides a way of expressing oneself and communicating thoughts, feelings and experiences. This process is a great form of self-discovery and self-expression. In making art, I can learn new skills and techniques, and develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

Because the material culture in painting has a great influence on my personal creation, it can give me a sense of identity and better explore the connection between culture and tradition. Because of the representative regional culture, certain scenes and some technical means I chose, not only deepen my understanding and appreciation of cultural heritage and tradition, but also give me a sense of the connection with the past and the continuity of tradition. At the same time, it can also provide me with a unique perspective and background, which also makes me think that my creation has irreplaceable value.

Li Ning | Hong Kong

Li Ning | Hong Kong image

How do your techniques as a tattoo artist influence your artwork?

I think the essence of establishing a style is from the transformation of practice through time. Tattooing for a decade has definitely contributed a big part of my artistic practice. From line works in tattoo to making print as my primary practice, they all echo to my emphasis on line arrangement.

The only difference is the tool. Doing customised tattoo design also trains my intiution of capturing the elements of different beings and reducing  them into symbols. Then I can begin making sense of those symbols and develop them into a bigger cohesive collage. Some goes to the application of collage in my prints.


What inspires you in particular about popular culture?

Trend to me is what people care in the contemporary world. I notice that the things in trend are always interdisciplinary so I am always intrigued by knowledge in different realms. Sci-fi would be a great example. Other than projecting my imagination to the indefinite future, I would also go backwards to picture our existing technology in the ancient time. These wild thoughts are always the starting point of a project.

In what way has art positively impacted your life?

Arts has been a reliable channel to express myself. From there,  I can reflect on the connections between myself and other beings in life.

Latifa Zafar Attaii | Afghanistan

Latifa Zafar Attaii | Afghanistan image

What initially inspired you to capture a self-portrait?

To be born, brought up, and live in a society where one is intrinsically deprived and forgotten as a female, isolated and labeled as the ‘other’ in one’s own homeland, femininity, and ethnicity become one’s identity. Struggling with this identity in a patriarchal society, self-expression becomes a necessity. I express myself against these exclusions, deprivations, and expectations of society. I weave the pain; I stitch the untold stories that society refuses to see or to hear otherwise. Each stitch in my works has love, hatred, fear, hope, and … attached to it.


Why do you feel it is important to highlight women’s issues in your art?

It is important to highlight women’s issues in art because women have historically been marginalized, deprived, and silenced in many areas of life, especially in third-world countries like Afghanistan. I believe that Afghan women like every other human being should be treated with respect, dignity, and equality. Coming from and living in a male-dominated society, where there are many cultural, religious, and patriarchal restrictions on women, being a woman itself is a real challenge.

Thus, we have to use every opportunity to raise a voice and ask for our basic human rights, and challenge traditional gender roles and stereotypes. I believe I was lucky enough to get the chance to study as for now we all know that Afghan women are not allowed to go to schools, universities and to work. My tool and my language is Art; making art provides me the space for my voice and my experiences to be heard and shared, and helps me to promote greater gender equality and social justice for all women, especially Afghan and Iranian women. WOMEN, LIFE, FREEDOM, WE WILL FIGHT, WE WILL DIE, WE WILL NOT GIVE UP ON OUR RIGHTS are our daily practice.


In what way has art positively impacted your life?

Art is a powerful tool for self-expression and emotional healing, it allowed me to express myself and raised a voice when I was supposed to stay silent. Art has helped me heal, find myself, and raise my voice despite the many challenges I as an Afghan woman have faced and still facing. My works have connected me with people across different cultures and backgrounds and it has successfully shared my story, my thoughts, and feelings with them. And I think this is the best role art can play in one’s life.

Kyunghee Lee | South Korea

Kyunghee Lee | South Korea image

What inspired you to create a work representing the war between Russia and Ukraine? 

When I feel frustrated and unpleasant emotions in social opposition, I listen to the sounds of desires hidden within me and freely shape the flow of those sounds into my works. People feel psychological oppression in the upper and lower structures of social relations, power, violence, wealth, war, etc. As modern society becomes systematized and individuals feel monolithic and oppressed, desire and anxiety exist within themselves in a dual way. 

On February 24, 2022, the war in Ukraine began. It is the most shocking and horrible news covered by TV and all kinds of media around the world. The reason why I treated the war in Ukraine as the subject of my work was not because I looked at it from a political point of view, but because I wanted to deal with the problem from a psychological perspective by juxtaposing the ugliness, pain, and anxiety of human desires. War is a manifestation of the desire and insecurity that causes the desire for more power and the collective suffering and oppression it causes.  

South Korea is no different. North Korea and South Korea are currently living in the pain of being divided, not knowing when and how war will break out. I felt the pain and suffering of Ukraine from the position of the third party. The work “The Sorrow of Venus”, completed in 2022, expresses the anxiety of the weak who are terrified by Zeus, who has turned into a hideous monster instead of a swan. 


You mention that your work ‘follows the flow of unconscious’. Can you tell us a bit more about this part of your process?

It is desire and anxiety that a consistent theme runs through my works. It is to let the desires that are trapped in the puddle of the unconscious flow. I want to scatter the heaviest mass of desire into the lightest air bubbles and flower leaves. In my work, images of nature or everyday life float in the air, creating strange and odd combinations. Although Freud focused on the unconscious as the source of art, in fact, the conscious and the unconscious are not clearly divided. Desire flows freely from consciousness to unconscious or from unconscious to conscious.  

In order to evoke the desires of modern people living in today’s capitalist era, layers of consciousness were built on top of the surreal unconscious with stories about reality and society. Further from this, by introducing the layers of nature that exist beyond the human conscious and unconscious, the will of the subject is completely abandoned and the natural effect of coincidence is accepted in a passive manner. By combining three different tenets of pop art that deals with superficial consciousness, surrealism that talks about the unconscious, and abstract expressionism that expresses physical nature, I wanted to build an identity in my own style without being stuck in any particular ideology. 

In the ‘Coincidental Inevitability’ series, I actively utilized coincidence by attempting the spreading effect of ink in earnest. After putting water in a container and sprinkling it with ink, I place a Hanji, that is, traditionally-produced-paper, on the surface of the water, the ink will spread out of control in an instant. It is a way of starting from an accidental stain made by the meeting of ink and paper and making it a world of inevitability. Small cut papers are stacked on top of each other, drawing out shapes reminiscent of animals, people, or nature from dreamlike images that you don’t know. The figurative images meticulously produced with wood engraving prints are exquisitely collaged on the Hanji to create an inevitable relationship. 

By depicting symbols of desire that remind us of today’s consumer society and real world, the primordial coincidence is transformed into a world of inevitability. This inevitability was not planned from the beginning, but improvised in the process of communication with abstract stains. Therefore, the final finished work is not a stereotypical representation, but a “simulacre without original” created by my imagination and senses. 


In what way has art positively impacted your life? 

My real life is tamed by customs, moral disciplines, and rational thought. But in my art, all boundaries disappear. I feel free by nomadic crossing and breaking boundaries the dichotomy of consciousness and unconscious, human and natural, coincidence and inevitability, conception and abstraction. The desire to cross the multi-layered world is not simply a will to satisfy appetite, sexuality, or relative deficiencies, but a cosmic desire to form a network of acting. 

We are intertwined not only with our relationship with human beings, but also with precious ties with nature and things. In a web of close, woven relationships, individuals are constantly changing as they influence each other. What sickens such dynamic life operations is the discernment and selfish greed of human beings who divide masters and superiors among individuals. In my art of making coincidence inevitable, I want to feel that individuals and main species free from the bondage of the master. 

Justin Lim | Malaysia

Justin Lim | Malaysia image

The subject of your artwork is a red plastic chair – can you give us a bit of back story
about the object?

These red plastic chairs are commonly found throughout Asia, at sidewalk hawker stalls, coffee shops, cafes and food courts. Easily identifiable, they represent a place to gather, share stories or to have a meal. They also provide a source of comfort from everyday life and can tell stories of the struggle of respite. As we emerge from the pandemic, I often reflect upon the time we experienced under lockdown.

During those times, I had spent many hours a day sitting and painting on one of these red plastic chairs. Such an object to me can be seen as an invitation for someone to occupy an otherwise empty space or act as a reminder of a memory of someone dear who has now gone. The chair itself can also be a signifier of class, identity, and hierarchies. All of these thoughts seem apt to me during the pandemic as this common everyday object accompanied me throughout this isolating period and somewhat presented itself as a subject for my painting.

We live in a world today that is always on the move and technology keeps changing our modes of living. When everything is moving at such a pace, I felt it was important to remind myself at times to detach from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and to just sit down, contemplate, and dream a little.

How do you go about creating a ‘sense of artificiality’ in your scenes?

I am interested in creating images that exist as a crossover between reality, imaginary landscapes and collage-esque ‘glitches’, where dreamlike spaces are juxtaposed with the everyday life in disjointed, constructed and at times artificial environments.

The environments are composed and painted from various photographs. They are not direct depictions of actual scenes but are collaged, imagined, rearranged and spliced together. I much prefer them to be a little disorientated and somewhat awkward looking in terms of how they are depicted.

I feel that in contemporary society, seeing is not believing and what we see is not necessarily the truth. It is all a matter of perception. I feel this sentiment relates to our own relationship towards our own living environments and reality.


In what way has art positively impacted your life?

Art has allowed me a space to observe and to find a place in the world

Joseub | South Korea

Joseub | South Korea image

How do you go about creating one of your surreal photographs? Can you tell us about your artistic process? 

Tableau vivant (活人畵) was a European social play in which a living character reproduced a scene or painting in a play in a still state. This performance creates an unfamiliar situation where I am alive, but have no words and no movement. It is an essential component of my photograph.

Photography begs a different element from Tableau, which began in the 1970s in the field of photography. In general, photography Tableau is rooted in attempts by photographers who advocated Pictorialism, not theatrical drawing. Unlike the size of photographs encountered in books and magazines, Tableau, which is produced on a large scale, enables the viewer to experience “face-to-face” with photographic works as if facing the wall. Tableau’s face-to-face experience allows him to introduce a compositional phase of painting into photography. Night shots against the backdrop of frozen rivers, surf beaches, and snowy landscapes are a pictorial distinction that only I can have.

What do you hope to communicate about Korean history and culture through your artwork?

The Asian history contains memories of dynastic states, long colonial rule over Western empires, and war, exploitation, and slaughter. There was a rapid modernization process by military dictatorship. I think that Korea is a country where all the situations have progressed during such a historical process. What I want is not the repetition of such historical processes, but the distrust of our own beliefs in believing and honoring such developments. I want to move to more beautiful civil society.

In what way has art positively impacted your life?

Asia is still in a feudal political and economic system, also nationalism, rooted in global capital. I think art has a freedom to reject such things and to ridicule the utopia they dream of. I think only art can do that. That’s why I chose an artist life. 

Indu Antony | India

Indu Antony | India image

Your work is deeply personal. Can you speak a bit about your artistic process, and delving into these personal memories and experiences?

This body of work is quite personal. A lot of conversations happen around memories and what has stayed with me. I try and understand why these memories linger and then move onto feeling the need to open it up. Once I feel this is something that I need to have further discussion, I show it to the world. The conversations continue and maybe I get better meaning to these thoughts. It always stems from deep within and then wanting to talk about the same.


What is the significance of your media: using your own hair, the gold, the chosen photographs, and your other materials?

Each material has its own significance and hence I use them. In this body of work – ‘I brought her up like gold’, I use my hair as a metaphor for memory as it is something that does not decompose from the body. The gold signifies my mother’s presence and retraces back to the title of the work, and is also a big part of growing up in Dubai. The images you see are childhood images of me used in this context to talk about things that our parents tell us when we grown up, childhood being a foundational stone. The bronze vials/ amulets were tied around our waists when we were children with a prayer in them. In this work, I have written sentences spoken by my mother. The box in which the work is kept are abandoned jeweller’s boxes found by me during Covid. I believe in the importance of every medium and its relevance to my work.


In what way has art positively impacted your life?

Art has been integral to my existence. A way for me to heal and a way to reach out to more people around me. A way to break through certain societal boundaries. A way to exist.

Gyempo Wangchuk | Bhutan

Gyempo Wangchuk | Bhutan image

What inspires you about traditional Bhutanese art?

My most vivid childhood memory is that of viewing a wall mural in a monastery. In Bhutan we are surrounded by traditional art, and I must have seen them before then, but maybe at that age I was old enough to appreciate it. I remember gazing at the shimmering mural in the cool, semi-darkness of the hall, and being mesmerized. The delicate shapes and patterns, the faces of gods and deities, and the faded colours all seemed so harmonious and beautiful. I was never the same after that- it was the moment which paved the way for me to become an artist. Traditional art is a vehicle for Buddhist teachings, and as a Buddhist, art is sacred to me. Painting is an act of devotion and worship, and the work itself is a sacred object. I trained as a traditional artist, and I carry this reverence for art in all of my work.


Your work speaks to the Covid-19 pandemic, a ‘great disruption to the world’. What message, if any, do you hope audiences will take away from your artwork?

The pandemic was such a huge event which occurred in our lifetime. Often most of us only hear about disasters in far off places, or in the past. But COVID-19 affected the world world in some way. We were all faced with disease or death, of ourselves or loved ones, the stress and worry, and economic hardship and being locked down. Buddhism teaches that suffering is part of existence, and we are able to transcend suffering by not trying to escape the unavoidable, but by realizing a higher truth: that our suffering is rooted in our own attachment to the world. My work is my own attempt to be a vehicle for the teachings, as best I can understand and convey them. However it is interpreted, I hope my work will bring viewers closer to peace as Buddhists understand it.


In what way has art positively impacted your life?

Art is really the only thing I know and have- I cannot imagine doing anything else with my life other than painting. So it is the centre of my existence, and I see myself as an artist first and foremost. It has certainly been a source of joy for me. I enjoy the hours and hours spent in imagining and painting. My life is the way it is because I am an artist, and I am grateful for the worlds and people it continues to introduce me to: other artists, their work and thoughts, and those who take art seriously and want to create or enjoy them.

Faris Nakamura | Singapore

Faris Nakamura | Singapore image

What first interested you about architecture and the tectonics of space?

My interest in the survey of spaces and architecture started with me not having my own room at home while growing up. I’ve always shared a room with my two brothers (up until now), and I got rather intrigued by the polarising feelings that I had towards the room; feelings of attachment and detachment to the room at the same time. I then started to seek out spaces outside of home to do personal things like study, play the guitar, or hang out with a special someone, but was often told off by either building management or fellow residents, “you can’t do that here!” – even when the space was vacant and not utilized by anyone or for anything.

That made me take a contemplative look at the negotiation of public spaces by people alike who were simply without the luxury of their own space and how architecture and its building sites i.e., stairwells, void decks and other nooks and crannies have become safe spaces for these people. What used to simply be a yearning and searching for a personal space of comfort and freedom became an in-depth study into the properties of spaces and how architecture plays a part in the development of the variable functional uses of building sites and the impact it has on the people who use them.


Where do you see the intersection between art and mathematics?

Mathematics plays a crucial role in art, I feel. We artists instinctively apply math even in our early sketches. We mentally calculate the length and height of our drawings to the size of the paper to get the correct ratio. And more so for object-makers and sculptors when bringing our sketches to life in a three-dimensional form.

Much like how artists would use fundamental formulas to get proportions and perspectives right, and to achieve the right balance, I use geometric principles to plan the shapes and the spatial forms of my works. It is important for me to get definitive, precise measurements that can only be obtained through mathematics in order to achieve seamless joints and clean lines in my artworks.


In what way has art positively impacted your life?

To start talking about serious matters has always been quite difficult for me, especially when they are too close to the heart, sensitive or confrontational. Art has been the tool that I use to start these conversations. Art has become my impetus in life.

As an introvert, a minority race and queer in Singapore, I struggled with expressing myself. Finding a healthy and non-confrontational outlet to speak my truth, share my experiences and advocate for the things that I am passionate about was necessary – and I found it in art. With art, it also allows me to deeper understand my emotions as I share them with others, and it fosters self-awareness.

My art documents my thoughts, my reflections, and my relationship with the world that I live in and that allows me to look back at my life chronologically to help me understand my growth and my strength as a person. Through the conversations that I have had about art, I am able to connect with people in a manner that cannot be achieved through other means, and I am reminded that I am not alone.

Cop Shiva | India

Cop Shiva | India image

What was the experience like working with your mother to create this series of artworks? Can you speak a bit about your creative process?

With this project “No Longer A Memory” I want to pay homage to my mother. My mother played her part as a typical rural girl of her generation. She followed the script, got married very young, gave up all her dreams to make mine possible. I was the centre of her life and during my childhood my mother and I use to play out characters from movies, mythology and what not. She built dreams in my head and gave me the strength to fulfil them while hiding hers.

Then one day I realised we don’t have a single photo of us together from those days. That’s the reason I created this photo-performance project, I want to honour our time together and create an emotionally charged archive of a fast-fading time from our memories. I want to make them true for her because she is my hero.


Your artwork holds so much joy in its colour and pattern. What significance does this have to the meaning of your work?

I see the world in colour. I grew up in in a village in south India where we are surrounded by colour, from the lush green scenery, to the multicolour Sarees the women wear, to the riots of colour in the village temple. Colour means joy, pride, and happiness for me, colour holds power. And with my camera I want to enable and empower all those unsung heroes that live between us and pose for my camera.


In what way has art positively impacted your life?

Expressive photographs are my tool for creating social awareness. Art has given a purpose and the means to act, change and empower those living in the fringes of the society nearby me. Personally, art has also provide me with the opportunities to meet, exchange and share with amazing peoples from all over the world.

Cian Dayrit | Philippines

Cian Dayrit | Philippines image

Where did you come across the image of the three boys, and what first drew you to it?

The photograph was taken by Dean Worcester who was an American colonial administrator during US occupation in the Philippines. He took several photographs which became instrumental in justifying the violent occupation which lasted until WW2. The legacy of this colonial gaze persists in constant attacks on our sovereignty. The scene shows three young boys standing in a mass grave, presumably looking for loved ones, scavenging for valuables or playing. At its core, it shows how the youth was made to endure such realities of colonial violence.


Can you speak to the significance of the title ‘Espasyo at Soberanya’, part of which is embroidered on the artwork?

The title (Space and Sovereignty) speaks of how spatial realities and lived experiences are linked by political conditions. The embroidered elements act as motifs presenting this dynamic expressing the need to untangle complex power relations within contested spaces and notions of freedom.


In what way has art positively impacted your life?

My entry is a response to the idea of Sovereignty as felt and experienced by populations in contested spaces/ places. Art has the potential to be a vehicle to speak truth to power. For it to have a positive impact in my life means for it to have a positive impact in everyone’s lives.

Celine Liu | China

Celine Liu | China image

What first drew you to the world of celebrity and popular culture?

I always thought I was going to be a superstar when I was a kid. I was born in 1990, I think I grew up in the greatest era of pop culture. Great culture and a lot of talent has always fascinated me. But now, the glory of pop culture became a memory. Greatness disappeared  in my era, replaced by everyone can become famous, so I became a traffic carrier, I want to connect with the celebrities and pop culture who influenced me.


Can you elaborate on your choice of using a ping pong match as a space for all these characters to gather?

In the picture, I wear a flashing blue miniskirt and red high-heeled boots, I seem to be playing a superwoman symbol in a game. I named her Punk S. She is a real individual, she can be you, or him, or anyone. Her opponents in the game are the most successful and wealthy people in the world, and the audience is the virtual strangers I meet when I move around in the metaverse.

Sports is a platform that allows anyone to compete and play fairly, as well as communicate and cooperate on an equal footing. On this platform, people abide by the same game rules, believe in the same sportsmanship, and recognize the same victory evaluation criteria. Ping-pong is a sport that any two people can do. It does not require expensive venues and equipment. It only needs a simple table and two rackets, so it is a very good stage.


In what way has art positively impacted your life?

Art can separate “I” from “us”, I can be myself, be an independent person through art. I will not affect my self-evaluation because of anyone’s approval or disapproval. For me, this is freedom. At the same time, if the world needs to have different voices, I think only art can make us to hear each other, so art makes me feel free and important to the world.

Cao Yu | China

Cao Yu | China image

Through your work, you say you aim to ‘break social conventions’. Do you think that art can be a vehicle for change in society?

Of course. Firstly, regarding the “breaking social conventions” you mentioned, it depends on what specific conventions are, and I am not intentionally breaking them. The truth is, I often experience fear in my daily life. So exerting force to attack and break through it, that conviction is an unquenchable flame that cannot be extinguished by the vast sea. Without pain and ruthlessness, how can you touch upon the core?

I will defend freedom of thought to the death. Thought is not a unique product of power holders, but rather a right that everyone possesses. It’s just that most people give up and habitually go for “ borrowlism”, and not knowing they are doing one thing – becoming someone else. And Art, is such a scalpel that scrape the
Poison Off the Bone.

Just like a patient who is willing to endure painful surgery to get healed. Art is the transformed ‘social reality’ of wisdom, and it’s like a shiny mirror that reflects the dirt and ugliness of oneself and everything around them clearly. Art is a weapon with an injection of imagination and creativity. It could not only self saving, but also saving others. It is a deafening voice, a lively battle, and also a thing that leading the audience together fighting our bloody way out . Finally, it is also a declaration of a person to the world, a majestic statement, and a way for an individual to gain power in the crevices of society.

Art is to some extent the “most useless” thing and also the “most useful” thing. This is similar to the binary opposition of “Tai Chi”, “LiangYi”, and “Heaven and Earth” in the ancient Chinese philosophy of the universe. I believe that even if future society becomes completely artificial intelligence-based and AI surpasses human intelligence in some ways, art and imagination will still exist within humans. They are the only advantages that are almost god-like and can never.


To read the rest of Cao Yu’s interview, click here.

Bjorn Calleja | Philippines

Bjorn Calleja | Philippines image

In what way does popular culture influence your work?

Popular culture, particularly the prevalence of social media, has a strong influence on our perceptions of ourselves and the world, the positive and negative impact on our worldview allows for both good and bad ideas for art and our humor and behavior.

As a painter, I am naturally drawn to visual images that I come across both online and in the physical world. Given that social media is predominantly a visual medium, it has a significant impact on my artistic work. Consequently, I find myself subconsciously and consciously integrating these visual elements on my feed, my background as a graphic designer, and the cartoon aesthetic from my childhood, in my visual language, which are direct results of the influence of popular culture on my creative process.


What do you hope to communicate about the Filipino identity in your work?

The painting “Land of the Mongrel” aims to explore the complex issue of Filipino identity in today’s globalized world. As a Filipino painter, I am interested in reflecting on the ways in which Filipinos navigate the tensions between our historical and cultural heritage and the influences of the contemporary world.

In this painting, I sought to convey the idea that the Filipino identity is not fixed, but rather, it is a constantly evolving and adapting entity. The term “mongrel” in the title refers to the idea of a mixed breed or a hybrid, suggesting that the Filipino identity is the product of multiple influences and cultural exchange. The painting portrays a figure that is in the process of discovering and reconciling its own history with the present moment.


In what way has art positively impacted your life?

Art continues to be my guiding force on how to slowly understand one’s self, the world and life.

Alisa Chunchue | Thailand

Alisa Chunchue | Thailand image

What initially drew you to this meditative stitching pattern? Can you speak a bit about your creative process?  

“Wound” is a project that incorporates surgical stitching procedures into drawing, providing an intriguing practice within each stitch. The inspiration for this piece came from seeing autopsy scars at an anatomy museum, as well as personal experiences of undergoing surgery and seeing scars on the body of a loved one. I’m fascinated by the gradual fade of scars over time.

The drawing process consisted of studying and replicating surgical stitches, following the direction of needle piercing into the flesh, creating a pattern table for consistent intervals, and meticulously repeating the lines on linen to resemble tissue and perineum layers, layering graphite pencil lines and shapes, then covering with colored pencils.  


Your work references the passing of a loved one – what do you hope audiences will take away from the piece?  

My artistic practice involves working with the condition of time, the creating process, and the story behind each piece. Although I don’t intend to directly convey my personal experience and sorrows to the audience through this project, it provides the driving force and starting point of my scars exploration. This is because scars are strongly related  to the memories and the process of making work related to time.  

This work depicts a repetitive drawing procedure and focuses on the considerable amount of time required in each stitch. It serves as a platform for opening up conversations regarding wounds, bringing the viewer back to investigate the scars and their own memories. Ultimately, the artwork aims to stimulate dialogue about the impact of memories, time and process of dealing with it.  


In what way has art positively impacted your life?  

We often find ourselves in difficult situations or facing the darkest moments of our lives, unable to express what is happening. However, art provides a means of expression. By collecting fragments of stories and concerns and viewing them through our own eyes, we can use art to negotiate the conditions of our personal and social contexts. I strongly believe that artistic practice can have a positive impact on both our physical and mental well-being, as I myself have overcome devastating sorrow through a simple drawing process. 

As an artist practicing in Thailand, I am particularly interested in investigating the minor stories that come from our bodies and our lives. True freedom of expression comes from understanding the limitations and rights of our own bodies, raising awareness of the bodies of others, and what it means to exist in today’s challenging society. In my artistic practice, I aim to use my own body as the key element of the investigation process to engage my audience in conversation.