Episode 279 enters the surreal illustrations of Singaporean illustration Lijie Ong. We are going to showcase works that features ‘narratives brimming with metaphors, weaving morbidly lush landscapes and anatomized bodies’. Her mission is to ‘translate a disoriented reality of vulnerability and self-awareness.’ From woodworking to illustration, Ong has definitely captured our attention. Read below for the full interview…
Your artwork contains narratives and metaphors. If someone is newly introduced to your work, what kind of message should they receive from your art?
Lijie: They can interpret and receive my works however they want to.
There is also a sense of desire in your work. Do you explore themes of sexuality as well?
Lijie: I contemplate a lot on the notion of sexuality in the anxieties felt while growing up, societal attitudes between genders and silent connotations of being female. My interest in Hysteria and Psychoanalysis have largely contributed to my studies on different constructs of sexuality.
Do you often sketch out ideas before working them into finished pieces?
Lijie: Yes. Sketching can also bring forth new ideas to sprout new works.
Do you find that when looking back through old pieces of art that there is a sense of personal history in them as well?
Lijie: Every artwork lifts a little piece of rock off my chest, like an itch relieved for a temporal moment. I prefer not to look back in nostalgia but I do recognize these feelings perhaps only to shelve them aside.
Are you a big advocate of formal education? I know you studied fine art and printmaking — was this training necessary to become the artist you are today?
Lijie: I wouldn’t call myself an advocate, formal education may not be necessary in regard to creating good works but it definitely contributes by creating an environment to share and thrive with other peers. Another aspect would be the availability of printmaking equipments like etching or hydraulic presses and acid baths in academic institutions, a well equipped printmaking studio would not be cheap for rental. Since my recent series are completed with the technique of only etching, I suppose many of my works would not have happened or rather I would not have the opportunity to comfortably delve into printmaking if I hadn’t attended art school.
What are some of your favorite Asian films or anime?
Lijie: Everything from Wong Kar Wai, Satoshi Kon and Park Chan-Wook. I enjoy films like the Infernal Affairs Trilogy, ‘Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring’, ‘Grave of the Fireflies’ and ‘Spirited Away’.
What is the significant of black & white work? Why the lack of color — or should I say, why not the inclusion of a color palette?
Lijie: The color schemes will usually come to me naturally but I find that the color black has always been comforting. I really enjoy the richness of black in etching inks and the different hues from pencils. I mean it is still always fun exploring with colors but I have yet to get around to sharing my colorful works online [laughs]!
Having the advantage of using your work to guide you to adulthood, was your self-discovery phase as an adolescent that much different than your average female?
Lijie: I’d like to think that every coming of age experience from any child is terrifyingly unique on its own.
Any galleries or exhibits later this year or early 2014 that you could spill the beans about?
Lijie: Not any at the moment as I am currently up to my neck with my degree studies but I have various collaborations still in the talks. Will definitely be keeping on my toes for more opportunities that may come!
Lastly, could you offer up any advice to any artists?
Lijie: Be happy and hungry.
Want to stay up on Lijie’s artistic adventures? Follow the cookie crumb trail below: