Abstract figure painting in pink and black

‘Autumn’ (2019), Chloe Ho
.
Chinese ink and acrylic on cloth

Hong Kong-based artist Chloe Ho revives ancient techniques of Chinese ink painting with a contemporary perspective. Following the opening of her solo exhibition at 3812 Gallery London, we spoke to the artist about creative environment, blending mediums and artistic dialogues

Woman standing in front of an abstract artwork

Artist Chloe Ho

1. Tell us about the concept for your current show Unconfined Illumination?

Unconfined Illumination really is reflective in many ways. The show speaks to my art that expresses deeper truths about ourselves, culture, nature and the human condition. It refers to my unencumbered expression that serves to both engage, entice and create a dialogue with the viewer. It also is a personal illumination of my inspirations, artistic influences and the id. It illuminates my connection both with East and West, ancient and contemporary. It celebrates the light of artistic freedom and observation.

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2. What’s it like exhibiting to a London-based audience?

To me art is universal and inclusive, a sort of common language that transcends time and place. I create my art based on our place in the universe drawing on common connections, identities, experiences and the natural world. London viewers, like all true art lovers, have certainly been wonderfully receptive, engaged, communicative, knowledgable and insightful. I have greatly enjoyed exhibiting here.

3. Do you need a particular environment to create?

I primarily paint in Hong Kong where I have my studio. It’s the most wonderful space for me because it holds the shadows of work competed and promise of work to come. I have also painted in many places around the world from Beijing to California. I really believe the creative environment is an extension of the artist – the energy, the sensibility, the light, colours, chaos or order. Like a blank canvas, no matter where, it quickly fills with every aspect of the painting life and facilitates the art.

mixed medium ink painting with beige and black ink

‘Lion Fish’, Chloe Ho. Chinese ink, coffee and acrylic ink on paper.

4. What made you decide to combine mediums such as ink and coffee?

To me, the combining of mediums better allows for unconfined expression. I am more able to create and express what I want to show in my images.

Of course, I always preserve the tradition of ink painting, but it is important to make my art a personal and contemporary expression of my aesthetic. For example, I chose coffee because it lent a certain modern energy and earthiness to my paintings, recalling in a modern way the elements of Shan Shui as in Lion Fish. While my ink flows, spray paint and acrylics gave me a more complex level of image such as In the Current. Even expression through technological manipulation of dimension from two dimensional paintings to sculptural pieces and VR are an interesting way to extend my images.

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5. Some of your works seem to be directly responding to other artists, such as Tracey Emin and Pablo Picasso. Do you see your practise as a form of dialogue?

Yes, absolutely I think art is a dialogue between the viewers and the artist, the present and the past, the artist’s idea and reality. This is what makes art familiar yet new, inclusive, challenging, connected and connecting. The dialogue between art, artists and viewers is much like quasars – they bombard us – they emit massive amounts of energy and are integral to the expansion and merging of galaxies – of art. I am bombarded by the blues of Yves Klein, Picasso’s remarkable placement of line, the sheer bold and demanding quality of Tracy Emin, the abstract power and rolling colours of Pollock, the brilliant ink brush of Zhang Daqain to name a few.

Ink painting showing a figure in blue and black

‘In the Current I’, Chloe Ho. Chinese ink, coffee, spray paint, acrylic ink on paper.

6. What inspires you to start a new series?

I actually see my work as an ongoing image even within any series of paintings. Each of my works connects and continues my visual story in some way. As the subjects or presentation changes, it reflects my newly realised truths about life, about beauty, about art.

Unconfined Illumination includes two of my most recent Four Seasons Series on fabric: Summer and Autumn. I was inspired by the long tradition of painting on fabric, not only in ink, but throughout the history of art. Fabric is both painterly and sculptural. Its movement creates new angles and dimensions and adds a tactile dimension to the art. It flows visually and envelops the viewer because of its very nature. The women’s figures and colour choices were part of my continuing artistic dialogue about changing psychology, physiology and nature. The transitions of the seasons reflect the blooming and fading on a macro and personal level.

‘Unconfined Illumination’ by Chloe Ho runs until 15 November 2019 at 3812 Gallery London. For more information visit: 3812gallery.com