ChenWanGurl Gaze Guangzhou
27 August 2019
Since I stumbled upon artist ChenWan’s social media account @boyblue1997, her drawings of genderless people have captivated me. Today, she talks about various aspects of her artistic accomplishments as well as her take on art in general.
Who are you and who is Boy Blue?
ChenWan: Hi, my name is ChenWan and I’m a female, and I was born in 1997 in the city of Xiangtan, which is located in Hunan province. Boy Blue is like my stage name in the art industry. I got inspired by the song “West Coast” by Lana Del Rey that was released in 2014. The lyrics go “Boy blue, yeah you,” which I adopted and have been using for five years now.
What inspired you to start making art? How do you describe your artwork?
ChenWan: I like to doodle whenever I have pens in my hand. I began to study art since the summer of 2018 when I registered to The Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts.
My artwork acts as a mirror of my progress where I tend to change tremendously from the inside out every now and then. Whenever my work no longer reflects me or represents who I am, I will change my style. To me, artwork is more of a way for me to explore myself. I am becoming more mature day by day, and a step closer to myself every day. So hopefully, I can eventually greet the real me in my paintings throughout this life of mine.
Is there anything that you are trying to explore through creating art? If so, how did it begin and what have you found so far?
ChenWan: I tend to utilise thick straight lines to generalise the silhouettes, instead of adding excessive lines to depict details. When it comes to composition it’s always the hardest part for me as I am very picky about details. For example, when one single line is needed within the painting, I will draw multiple sketches of different placements of that specific line as to determine the most appropriate placement. I don’t want my use of lines to just illustrate the outline of certain objects or body movements, instead I want them to assist in conveying my emotions and personality.
Where do you usually get inspiration for your art?
ChenWan: Usually listening to music is what I do, especially Amy Winehouse’s songs. Her first studio album “Frank” is possibly my favourite of my entire life, and listening to her while painting often deludes myself into the illusion of understanding her fully. Also, many Lana Del Rey’s singles that were released before 2012 are my inspiration for my numerous paintings, especially the song “Off to the Races.”
What motif/s have you maintained in your work from the early stages of your art career?
All the pieces that you’ve shared on your social media are of different kinds of young females. Was this continuity of motif done on purpose or otherwise? What is the significance behind this particular choice of gender?
ChenWan: I would consider the subjects of my paintings are genderless, instead of being labeled as females. Genderless, in my opinion is not completely deprived of sexual characteristics, It is instead, the depiction of the feminine beauty that is NOT being commanded by the male gaze. Despite the ordinary facial features that are against the so-called “beauty standards,” or the abused mental states that had been trampled upon before, or even the nudes that are revealed candidly and bravely, all these individuals can proudly claim their minds and bodies under no restraint or guilt whatsoever in my paintings. And I hope the subjects of my paintings maintain such qualities within themselves.
What do the gurls in your artworks have in common with your own self? Is your art a reflection of your inner side?
ChenWan: There are actually many differences between the subjects in my artworks and me, but if we are talking about similarity between us, I’d say it’s that we are both genderless. To me, it’s important to portray the subjects as accurately as in real life.
Amongst all these glamorous artworks of the gurls you’ve painted, which one is your favourite and what is her name? Tell us how did she come to life and what’s the story behind this art piece?
ChenWan: Hmm, it is difficult to answer this question because none of the people I’ve drawn are based on specific people in real life.
What do you hope to achieve throughout your art career?
ChenWan: That there will be someone willing to purchase my art, bring my creation back to their home, and hang it up in their bedroom so they can appreciate it everyday.
If you were left to choose one color to use in your art indefinitely, what color would you pick?