WOW Artist in Residence Cian-Yu Bai is one of the artists participating in our Seven Walls exhibition.
Cian-Yu has been at WOW almost since its birth. Upon her arrival in the Netherlands, Cian-Yu began to focus on memory. “I started to reflect on memory and how we look at the world, because everyone has a personal reality and we all have a different perspective on the world. I don’t believe that people can see things in the same way: maybe we can describe a general idea, but the feeling is totally different, because our memory comes into play in the construction of our view on the world”. It is indeed for this reason that when she paints, Cian-Yu doesn’t use any references. Her intention is to show her memory of a moment, and this sometimes leads her to depict a sort of ‘wrong’ memory. “I feel this is a way to show people how these things make us different in our connection”.
More recently, her focus shifted to moving. “After I came to the Netherlands, I noticed a lot of different stories behind the reasons why people move here. There are many people from different countries, so I started working on the theme of moving, how people do that and the stories behind it. I find it very interesting, and this is my focus at the moment. The world is never a solid situation, it is always changing. I like to depict this from my perspective and bring my ideas and feelings to this situation. Life is always full of surprises and unexpected things”.
In her recent exhibition Ephemeral World Swarm of Humans at the AdK Actuele Kunst Gallery, she showed Body Purified, a series of 18 paintings presented as gravestones. “I wanted to connect the beginning and end of life with the image of water as a cycle. Water for me is also a symbol of culture and environment, because they impress us and form part of our body, just as water does. They cover you and you cannot remove them”.
“I like to work a lot and then select in the end. At the beginning I have some plans, but they often change in the process. I don’t like to set my expectations and ideas at the outset and then just do it; I like to include many things during the development and not just paint an image that is already clear in my mind. I want to keep it alive.”
“For me, to a large extent the work is about illusion, and especially the illusion of reality. I used acrylic paint but tried to make it seem like oil paint. So when people look at it and look at the density of the paint, they think it is oil, while it actually isn’t. This also reflects my idea that when you see something in the world it may actually not be the truth.”
THE INFLUENCE OF ORIGIN
“I think my cultural background will never be removed from my body. As a painter I use my body directly, so I can’t avoid it. Yet I prefer not to show my background and leave people unsure of where I come from. Already in Taiwan I was reflecting a lot about why we should put a cultural sign on artworks, and I thought that people probably do it unconsciously to fit an expectation, but it is not my point to do that”.
“I look up to many different artists, and the list is always changing. Something that is always in my mind however is the book Nadja by André Breton. It is about the relationship between the writer and this girl called Nadja, who suffers from psychoses. I feel I’m searching from this kind of intimacy in my work, a very basic feeling in our body”.
“For me, aesthetics are not fundamental, what is behind it is more important and it is not something I can really describe. I keep asking myself why I’m making art, and the answer shifts and evolves through time. I like painting for its immediacy, it is a way to connect directly with my body and to show what I feel and think immediately, and when that feeling is gone or I think my painting perfectly reflects my feeling, then I know it is done”.
“I like when people have different perspectives on and opinions about my paintings, and I’m very curious about what they think and feel.”
“I think it is interesting to live with other artists. When I was in fine art it meant that I lived only with other visual artists, not with musicians or talented people in other fields. So it is kind of interesting, especially for foreigners, to have a way to get to know other people”.
See more of Cian-yu’s work on her website