Rogue Magazine News Grinding out the needle that stimulates people’s memories – artist JIAWEI FU

Grinding out the needle that stimulates people’s memories – artist JIAWEI FU

Drawing inspiration from ancient Egyptian techniques, artist Jiawei Fu “Jiawei” blends a type of paint called “egg tempera.” Although few people practice this painting method nowadays, as most believe that modern pigments can achieve excellent results without the need for additional effort in mixing their own paints.

Jiawei is a person who finds satisfaction in dedicating extra time to her craft, meticulously blending the perfect pigments. She holds the belief that ancient artists uncovered the potential of egg yolk as a binding agent for pigments. Beyond its ability to expedite drying and enhance preservation, she has discovered that it also extends the longevity of pigments on canvas surfaces. Through a series of meticulous experiments, she has been pleasantly surprised to observe that each egg yolk possesses its own distinct “hue.” Even when combined with the same proportions of pigment, she has found that unique and delicate outcomes can still be achieved. Consequently, each piece of artwork she creates is imbued with a sense of “uniqueness”.

This “uniqueness” is cherished by Jiawei.

Jiawei, a Chinese female artist who is dedicated to exploring the connection between “uniqueness” and her creative direction. She believes that everyone has their own “uniqueness,” and when they see works that possess this attribute, it generates associations that give birth to a new sense of “uniqueness.”

Jiawei, whose Chinese name is Jiawei Fu, was given this name by her family. Both characters “珈” and “玮” contain the radical for “王,” which means “jade.” It represents being precious like jade, cherished and protected, embodying the warmth and expectations of her family towards her. Born in Guangzhou, she has had an indescribable affinity for drawing since her earliest memories. This all stems from the nurturing within her family: she learned to “speak up” from the closest people to her.

Communication isn’t confined to words alone; gestures, expressions, laughter, even the details of our surroundings serve as channels for connection. Painting stands out as a potent form of expression amidst this array of mediums.

Art and design serve as Jiawei’s primary mediums for expression, both centered around a fundamental question: How can human emotions and perceptions be evoked and portrayed within an environment? Her answer lies in the realm of the non-human. Jiawei explores the dynamic between “humans and non-human entities” to create a compelling series of acrylic and indoor works, employing the technique of storytelling. Her pieces have garnered acclaim and commendation from numerous media outlets, recognizing her unique approach to conveying narratives through art.

Jiawei said that she often hopes her creations can become a needle that stimulates people’s memories, and she wishes that viewers can become aware of the beauty and innocence around them through her works. It seems like a simple idea, but it is actually very difficult to execute because “resonance” is both subjective and objective.

“How to express?” is a formidable obstacle on the path of creation. Jiawei’s approach is to often start with something ordinary and common when conceptualizing her works, in order to capture people’s attention and experience their stories from there. She also tries to give each piece its own unique color, using unconventional hues that immediately catch the viewer’s eye. Even if the subjects depicted in her paintings are still those simple fleeting moments, the dreamlike or unreal color combinations pique curiosity and ignite a desire in people to read and feel, to understand the story behind them… This is what Jiawei hopes for, the beginning of resonance.

In Jiawei’s current artistic philosophy, she believes that “community” is built upon the foundation of “communication”. However, this shared “common language” among different individuals is easily overlooked. Being human, most people have a common understanding of simple and pure things, but they also constantly strive to become different and unique.

“The most innocent and unadorned moments are the key to making us feel ‘alive’,” said Jiawei.

So she wants to use the expression of “narrating stories/diaries” to explore different interpersonal relationships and challenge people’s thought processes. She advocates for promoting the importance of cultivating personal thinking and imagination in everyday life, further celebrating the “commonalities” between individuals. Even if everyone touches the same ordinary wall, there will still be different feelings between people because we are unique as individuals and extend as a collective group.

Quarantine: Finding Fish, 22” x 17”, Acrylic with eggyolk on canvas, 2020

In 2020, Jiawei unexpectedly encountered Covid and instead rode this huge wave to create two major series: “QUARANTINE” & “AFTERMATH”. She began to gain attention in the art world, and throughout the year her works appeared in numerous galleries and exhibitions in the United States and Canada through solo and group shows.

Jiawei said, “The COVID-19 not only made me realize, but also made the majority of people aware that we often lack our own ideas. Going with the flow is like being a walking corpse.” Under the pressure of the pandemic, people suddenly lost their motivation and seemed to hit the brakes as if they became “non-human” in an instant. However, it is because of this awareness that there is hope for awakening. The “QUARANTINE” series describes the daily life of humans during the pandemic, and Jiawei proposes that “in fact, we have been like this all along,” just without realizing it before. 

Our lives resemble a looping animation, wherein we often find ourselves repeating the same routines day after day, gradually diminishing their individuality.

So, in the “QUARANTINE” series, Jiawei adds some “interesting” elements to people’s sluggish and dull lives, leading viewers to find alternative interests amidst endless depression. No matter what happens in the surrounding world, having a pair of eyes that can seek out interesting things and finding the right perspective for observation is the key. This is also the enlightenment that Jiawei gained from COVID-19. 

The “AFTERMATH” series follows the birth of the “QUARANTINE” series, and it is translated as “Surviving After Disaster.” It is an extension and answer to the quarantine series. When individuals become aware of their own monotony and lack of progress, they are often met with feelings of fear and confusion. They may feel remorseful and blame themselves for not adequately addressing or valuing things in the past. However, embracing the practice of remembering or documenting even the smallest and simplest moments anew can offer a potential solution. Surviving through adversity is not the direst or deeply wounded state; rather, it serves as a personal wake-up call, urging individuals to reassess and reinvigorate their lives.

A person looking at himself in the mirror

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Left: Aftermath: Fog on Mirror, 4” x 6”, Acrylic with eggyolk on canvas, 2021

Right: Aftermath: Our Wonderland, 4” x 6”, Acrylic with eggyolk on canvas, 2021

When people return to the “initial state” and start paying more attention to their surroundings, this is also the beginning of harvest.

The “AFTERMATH” series depicts Jiawei’s most comfortable and pure 24 moments, which are also the moments she cannot forget. Some people may find these 24 moments that belong to them within a day, while others may need a lifetime to search for them. Each moment is a better and gentler understanding of the past, and it is also a stronger and more vibrant motivation for the future.

If there had been no occurrence of COVID-19, “isolation” and “surviving a disaster” would not naturally become Jiawei’s creations. However, what remains unchanged is her drawing creative inspiration from the people and events around her to find direction.

The new series she is preparing is named “MY YELLOW IS YOUR BLUE”. This project endeavors to explore the intricate dynamics of intimacy within relationships, shaped by both external environments and individual predispositions. It aims to cultivate a deeper comprehension by facilitating the exchange of emotional nuances symbolized by “yellow” and “blue”. By offering novel perspectives, the project strives to foster a stronger sense of closeness and connection.

Rather than viewing conflicts as barriers, the project perceives them as opportunities to uncover bridges and establish a sense of belonging in an era marked by relentless challenges.

Jiawei was inspired by her personal experiences, her works embrace the rollercoaster of emotional breakthroughs within everyone’s life, this endeavor acknowledges both the highs and lows encountered along the way. Yet, the true challenge lies in attaining a comprehensive understanding by viewing situations from multiple angles. At the same time, she injects Chinese cultural understanding of emotions, translates it into small poem and uses dreamy colors to hide the dark side. It’s not about right or wrong but about front and back. When we start to see the back from the front, and the front from the back, that’s when we are getting closer to the truth.  

Praying with the snow, 8” x 16”, Acrylic, eggyolk and plaster on canvas (2023):

“As snow descends, what plea does it voice
A prayer to melt, dissolve, and rejoice
To merge with the river, in a tranquil choice”

A painting of a person

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Even with significant differences in themes, the consistent element in Jiawei’s creative process is “communication.” Without communication, there is no community, and therefore no story.

In addition to using ancient techniques from ancient Egypt, Jiawei has also started experimenting with alcohol and plaster. Spraying alcohol on acrylic and plaster that hasn’t dried yet creates very unique patterns; if alcohol is applied and the acrylic isn’t completely dry, it will have a smoother surface. She decided to start a dual experiment with alcohol and egg yolk because she didn’t want to rely on “factory settings” for paint supplies. Completing her work together with the ingenuity buried in history is not only a respect for the past but also an inheritance and extension of this culture.

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