The Way Of Scent

You’ve been an artist for many years now. When did you first start becoming interested in art?
In secondary school, I started becoming interested in graphical images and illustrations that were highly associated with design—particularly silkscreen printing and printmaking, which is what I went on to study in LASALLE later on.

How did this interest evolve into the practice that you have now?
I think this evolution began because of the influence of the institution when I was in school, like in theory and art history classes where I was exposed to certain ideas and concepts. When you’re in an institute, you start to develop your own way of thinking, and as you get to work with more materials and art in general, you just start to have an idea of what you want to explore.

You explore Chinese culture quite a fair bit in your recent works. Is this also something that you grew interested in at a young age?
When I was in college, I always traveled overseas for residencies and stuff like that. I wouldn’t say I had a particular interest in trying to explore Chinese culture in my art, but it was more like on the side, I would go to museums to look at East Asian history and greater Asian stuff. I was fascinated by it, and I would pick up books related to East Asia, so I had a lot of books at home with readings on East Asian culture.

I only started getting into it in the last four to five years when I got tired of art-making in general. I took a sabbatical for a while and was just traveling again, and this time round I visited China more. Even if I do go abroad these days, even in the US, I spend a lot of time in the museums, looking at all the East Asian and Chinese stuff, so I realised that this is something that I wanted to explore within my practice.

Has your family influenced your practice or your journey as an artist in any way?
I don’t think so. My parents are pretty liberal. I mean, my folks are very typical Chinese folks, but then again, they’re a little bit different as well because they never question what I do and are pretty supportive. But this probably runs in our blood because my grandfather’s hobby was sculpting, so there were a lot of his wood sculptures of dragons and other Chinese shapes and structures at home. So when I started my own practice, my parents didn’t question me. In fact, I think I got a lot more critical comments than praise about my work from them. So there were no issues of them asking “What are you doing?” or “What is this?”. But I wouldn’t say that just because we talk about it means they fully grasp what I’m doing (laughs).

Your studio space is within a garage. Is there a reason why you chose to work in such a space?
Oh, yes, yes (laughs). I could resonate with the people there, and that makes it interesting as well. I mean, my family has a garage business, so I grew up in shophouses with my parents where they’d be working on the ground floor, and I’d stay on the top floor you know, so I just gravitated towards it.

I also feel like I can get a breather on the first floor, because sometimes, being around too much art for a long period of time can be quite intense. It’s a fun place basically, because a lot of neighbours find it very fascinating how our garage is all pimped up with murals. Every time I start to do large installations or preparations, our neighbours get very fascinated and they’ll gather around and be like “Eh, what you doing? What you gonna show ah?” I think it’s this interaction that I like most about the space.

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