SILIA KA TUNG, Fantasy is interior world’s reality
Silia Ka Tung is a Chinese contemporary artist based in London. Her work is a psychedelic ballet of organic shapes in saturated colours dancing together with mysterious creatures reminding us of ancient mythology. The mix of this modern dreamland and the influences of Chinese culture and tradition make Silia Ka Tung’s art so hypnotizing and unique.
What made you decide to become an artist?
My grand-father from my mum’s side was an established traditional Chinese painter, so it was in the family.
I initially wanted to be a designer. When I went to a school interview after high-school to study design they told me I should do fine arts if my parents will support me. That was actually the first time it came to my mind.
You were studying Oil Painting in HangZhou at the China Academy of Fine Arts and then continued your studies in London finishing with a MFA in painting at the renowned Slade School of Fine Arts. Is the style of teaching in China different than in England?
I did one year of art school in China after being accepted to a BA at Chelsea College of Art in London because my father thought that I needed to learn some “Chinese culture”. That’s why I went to an art foundation class before going to London doing my BA.
“The style of teaching is very different in China than in England. In China I was doing life drawing every day and the schooling was very academic. You do everything in a group, the teacher comes and corrects your mistakes and tells you what you need to do.”
London art school was fun and free. The teaching style is very casual and inspirational but you were left alone most of the time.
There’s a real evolution in your work. Your earlier work was mostly black-and-white line drawings, and then the figurative lines dissolved and became a beautiful ballet of colorful, abstract shapes of organisme covering several canvases.
In your recent work you’ve changed from painting to experimenting with materials and creating soft sculptures of fantasy animals and organic shapes such as branches of trees. Why did you change from painting to making sculptures?
“Drawing or doodling is always part of my life … I just do it as soon as I have a pen in my hand. ”
For my BA final show at Chelsea College I decided to develop from a small drawing idea into something big and these life size portraits filled with doodles lasted until my second year of MFA at the Slade College but then I wanted to try something different. I wanted to do “game paintings”, colourful, saturated paints directly onto the canvas, like automatic drawings.
Painting for me is about game, chance and fun and I always paint around the edges. Slowly I was drawn towards painting onto objects. So I started making soft sculptures to paint over. That’s where I am now.
Did motherhood change your work, your inspirations?
Motherhood is difficult for me as an artist because of the change of your priorities and of your life-balance. As much as I enjoy being with my two daughters, I found myself struggling to be an artist. But time helps and slowly you regain some of the balance and hopefully being a mother also has positive impact on my work.
Is there a phrase, a proverb that inspires your work?
“All our interior world is reality, and that perhaps more than our apparent world. ”
When you work on a new art piece, do you show your husband Gideon Rubin, who is also an artist, the work-in-progress or do you prefer to keep your creative bubble as private as possible?
We work in the same studio, so often we show each other what we’re working on, especially when my work takes relatively long to finish. I mainly show him to ask his opinion, no matter if the piece is finished or not.
Are you working on a new exhibition?
I am finishing some pieces for a three persons group show in Amsterdam called “Father, Mother, Daughter, Son” curated by Mette Samkalden at Canvas Contemporary. The exhibition opens on 14th January 2017 and goes until mid February.
What comes to your mind when you think of Iran?
I’ve never been to Iran, so everything I know about this country is through friends, movies, news, Instagram. Yes, I hashtagged Iran on Instagram a few times and it led me to very weird places.
It’s a big country rich in history and culture, beautiful and mysterious. It’ll be great to visit one day.
All works by Silia Ka Tung
Text: Anahita Vessier
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