Painting the Seeds of Art
As one of the participants in Stella's project, I was invited to paint on a blank canvas onto which an image of a Tuen Mun street was being projected. We were all given an hour to paint, and the task entailed stepping into the virtual space captured by the projected image. As I am not a practised painter, I painted naively. I wondered how much of my own artistic practice in digital art would benefit this exercise. In order to have an easy start, I read the image as if it was pixelized, starting with light colors and was gradually adding various colors to different regions of the projected image, mapping the colors delivered from the projector with the paints generously made available to me.? After a while, I realized that the light coming from the projector shifted my perception of the colors that I put on canvas. I could only manage to match the colors on the palette with the projected image on the uncolored canvas.? Once the colors were on the canvas, I could not distinguish whether what I was seeing was the actual paint colour, or the colour produced by the projector. The color reference produced by the projected image shifted and became ambiguous. So, every time I put a color on I eliminated some existing references. Sometimes, I could not even manage to distinguish whether I had put colors on a particular area or not. At other times, the shiny reflections of the wet paint under the projected light guided me. It was impossible for me to control the final outcome. In painting, we talk about composition and the distribution of colors. But in this case, there was no way that I could step back and adjust the overall effects of the painting. At that moment, I felt a bit frustrated as I secretly wished to make a nice painting and wanted the final work to be in my control and accomplished according to my artistic plan. However, this desire was discouraged by the painting situation in which I found myself. Instead, the double vision produced by seeing both the projected image and the newly added paint drew me into a liminal space between the two. Every brushstroke determined the final work. This work was not about “painting-as-object”, but about the action of painting itself. Every brush is a step. Step by step, we developed our own vivid path at Tuen Mun through creating these images. This experience was so enjoyable that it encouraged me to indulge more in painting, enriching my studio practice.
As an experienced painter, Stella chose not to be the sole painter of the canvases in this project. Instead she created some space for painting. She shaped the painting environment, invited people from different backgrounds to paint, made herself accessible to all the visitors during those one-hour sessions, and initiated a lot of discussions about painting techniques and the Tuen Mun environment. The exhibition will be staged in the same location that these painting activities took place. This is an installation which was not only designed for exhibition. More importantly, it was constructed to initiate a series of meaningful exchanges through painting activities. In this environment, the blank canvas was the soil, the bottles of paint were water, and the seeds of art were spread.
Department of Visual Studies
Lingnan University, Hong Kong