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Exclusivo: Hablamos con la artista malaya Hong Yi

Volvemos con una sección poderosa. Por La Ilustración es Mujer pasaron Cecilia Andrade, Isabel Samaras, Karen Caldicott, Coco Dávez, Ana Lense Larrauri, Ann Lee, Yukari Terakado, Annie Wu, Andrea Ebert y Fernanda Cohen.
Ahora te contamos que acabamos de entrevistar a la joven artista malaya Hong Yi. Ella, más conocida como Red, irrumpió en las redes sociales por su extraña forma de pintar. Con la parte posterior de un pocillo y un poco de café, Red ha realizado el retrato del músico, cantante, actor y director taiwanés Jay Chou. Acá nos cuenta, en exclusiva para Visualmente, cómo hizo.
1. What techniques and what materials do you use?
I love to creating art but not with the usual paintbrush and watercolour and pencils though - I like to grab whatever I can get hold of - rocks, ketchup, milk, salt, shirts - and turn them into art. It's more fun that way, and it creates new and interesting textures that I would not have discovered had I stuck to using a paintbrush.

2. How was it working for Jay Chou’s portrait?
The project took about 12 hours to finish. Coffee is quite a challenging medium to use - too little water and the rings wouldn't form easily, too much water and the rings would blend into each other, resulting in just a deformed pool of coffee. I had to also wait for the lighter parts too dry up before stamping on the darker rings, or else the rings would not be visible.
3. How does a profession not known for having many women in it? 4. What is the feminine traits that you put to work?
I'm assuming that by this, you mean architecture (I'm a full-time architect). I think there are much more men in this industry, and much more famous male architects than women, because this is a highly demanding career. It is very time-consuming, and one needs to be very firm and tough in this industry, as you deal with many different people - clients, contractors, builders, and engineers. Many capable women take time off from this profession when they start a family. Right now, I truly enjoy working as an architectural designer despite the challenges that I face. I believe when you have passion in what you are doing, people around you will see it and treat you differently, and will respect you even more. I believe there is still a gender disparity in this industry (especially in a place like China...I'm working in Shanghai now), and my belief is that as a woman, I should work twice as hard to show people around me that I have substance in what I am doing.

5. How do you choose the characters that will work?
When I moved to Shanghai, I wanted to create a series of portraits on Chinese personalities to learn more about people here. I wanted to do portraits of artists, athletes, singers, actors, architects – and I spent some time researching and learning about them.My first artwork in Shanghai is a portrait of artist Ai Weiwei using 100,000 sunflower seeds, as a tribute to his Sunflower Seeds installation in the Tate Museum of London.

I did a portrait of an athlete next, and the most famous Chinese athlete here is undoubtedly Yao Ming. I wanted there to be a connection between the tools I was using to paint, and the person whose portrait I was painting, so challenged myself to use a basketball to paint his portrait.

After that, I decided to do one of a singer. Jay Chou may be Taiwanese, but everyone in the mainland still listen to his songs all the time, so I did a portrait of him. I was inspired by the opening line of his song ‘Secret’, about a coffee cup being lifted of a coaster. Therefore, I used coffee and a coffee cup to paint his portrait.

My latest project is that of Chinese film director Zhang Yimou, which I made out of 750 pairs of socks hung up on two bamboo poles. I was very inspired by the little old Shanghainese alleyways 弄堂 (you can see pics here http://www.ohiseered.com/2011/10/day-in-life-of-hong-yiin-shanghai.html ). The locals like to hang up their laundry on bamboo sticks and stick them outside of their windows. On a sunny day, you'll see a lot of clothes hung out on bamboo sticks. To me, it's very traditional and unique, so chinese! I did Zhang yimou's portrait because in his movies, he shows how beautiful and traditional the Chinese culture is. Also, he uses a lot of bamboos in his movies (like House of Flying Daggers).
6. What are your artistic influences?
Growing up, I loved Disney and in my teenage days, I had wished I was born in the 70s so I could have worked with Disney during its golden period. I also grew up loving Picasso's cubist work, I love how he was so unconventional for his time, and how although his paintings looked child-like and imperfect, he was able to display so much feelings in his artworks, of anger, sadness and grief. One quote by Picasso has always inspired me. He once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” When we were children, the world seemed to be filled with limitless possibilities.I think we should sometimes learn to relax a little and learn to not be afraid of silly ideas, and try to think a little more like a child and allow our imaginations to run free. I see many people get more cynical and grumpy as they get older…and don’t think life should be like that. We should learn to be more optimistic about life.

Another artist who has inspired me is Brazilian artist Vik Muniz. He creates amazing artworks using garbage...from far it looks just like a painting, but when you look at it closely, you realise it's made of up little objects!

7. How long does it take you to do one of these works as, for example, Yao Ming portrait?
The Yao Ming and Ai Weiwei portraits took about 2-3 hours; the Jay Chou one took 12 hours, while the Zhang Yimou portrait took 3 weeks!

8. How would you describe your style?
I am an artist, who loves to paint, but not with a paintbrush!

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