I paint to understand our existence--this life and our relationship to one another. I spend time alone in the studio in an inward solitude seeking to give an image to the unnamable and the unspeakable. 

 

As a native Chinese, I practiced Chinese calligraphy from an early age, and was deeply influenced by Chinese philosophy and traditional Chinese art. My approach to painting is analogous to that adopted by Chinese calligraphers.  As a painter, I respect the physicality of the paint and value the integrity of the mark.  And I believe every mark should have its intention, and the way a mark is made is equally important as the final image. However, in traditional Chinese painting,  the importance of the brushwork is always secondary. Because the ultimate goal is not to describe a visual existence but to paint distilled memories and the inner world of the artist. In the same vein, my interest lies in the tension between life’s seen and unseen. 

 

I try not to let the subject matter dominate or push a narrative. Rather, I let the painting lead the way. I embrace accidents, as they often take the painting in a new direction. There is no pre-planned composition, no pre-determined vision, no fixed sequence. Instead, the painting process becomes an inward journey that consists of constant selecting, examining, rearranging, breaking, reconnecting, discarding and, above all, discovering. 

© 2020 Elaine Qiu

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