Noir sur noir by Wah Wing Chan

Wah Wing Chan will be exhibiting Noir sur noir, his latest series of mixed media on paper at Galerie McClure at the Visual Arts Centre in Montreal from November 30 to December 21, 2012.  The vernissage will be held on Thursday November 29, 2012 at 6pm.  The public is welcome.

 

Noir sur noir by Wah Wing Chan wing

Wah Wing Chan at Atelier Circulaire.

 

Wah Wing Chan was born in 1960 in Macau, the former Portuguese colony.  In 1972, he immigrated with his family to Montreal.  He was introduced to printmaking at John Abbott College (1985-1987).  Wing later completed two Bachelors of Fine Arts degrees at Concordia University, first in Studio Arts, with an emphasis on drawing and printmaking (1987-1992), after which he earned a Specialization in Printmaking (1992-1996).  He has been a regular member of Atelier Circulaire printmaking studio since 2000.  His work can be found in private and public collections in Canada, China, India, Portugal and Korea.

I have had the pleasure of working with Wing at Atelier Circulaire since he joined the studio.  Through the years I have witnessed his dedication to his fervent art practice.  Working side by side with many artists, it is fascinating to observe each person’s approach to making art.  In Wing’s case, I am struck by his steady pace and strong presence at the studio.

 

17.-gravite

Wah Wing Chan, Gravité, mixed media on paper, 19 x 14 inches, 2011.

 

Wing’s work is powerful, striking and impeccably executed.  When I visited his last solo show at Wilder and Davis in 2011, I fell under the hypnotic spell of his mixed media work. Each image captured my imagination and solicited its own mood.  I enjoyed surrendering to the free association of narrative and emotion conjured by each piece. This show was a prelude to what we will be treated to at Noir sur noir at the Visual Arts Centre.

Today on his Facebook status, Wing posted, “I adore spontaneity, providing it is carefully planned.”  This wraps up his approach to image-making, a delicate balance between heart and mind.

 

I met Wing at Atelier Circulaire’s kitchen for a friendly interview, while we enjoyed a pot of brown rice tea, brewed by the artist.

 

1.-atmosphere

Wah Wing Chan,Atmosphere, mixed media on paper, 19 x 14 inches, 2012.

 

Talk to me about your upcoming exhibition at the Visual Arts Centre.

I’ll be showing my latest work in this exhibition called Noir sur noir.  It’s a two-man show and I look forward to meeting a new audience.  My pieces are done with acrylic paint on Tatami paper, that I chine collé to Hahnemühle paper.  Basically I work with two types of black, Animal Black and Carbon Black.

 

 

brush

Wing applies acrylic paint to Tatami paper.

 

I’ve watched you work on this series at Atelier Circulaire and you use a very unique technique.  Can you explain your process?

I apply acrylic paint to Tatami paper with a Chinese brush.  I work in layers, a minimum of two, a maximum of five.  Between each layer, before the paint dries completely, I rinse the paper with hot and cold water.  It’s important to be patient because if I rinse too soon there won’t be any paint left on the Tatami.  When I paint my first layer it’s very spontaneous and loose, this is my background. I look at it and ask myself how to apply the next layer, so that it is not repetitive and adds an interesting element. When the painting is done I apply two layers of rice glue to the back of it. Then I pass the Tatami through a press with a plastic plate so that it bonds to dampened Hahnemühle paper.  The piece is then placed between blotter paper, under pressure, for a few days to dry flat.

 

Is your spontaneous and reflective approach to brushwork related to calligraphy?

I can say no, but then again, it’s the hand that was trained as a kid in calligraphy.  In school, in Macao, we had to repeat Chinese characters several times.  Nobody liked doing that.  Some people may see a connection between my work and calligraphy.  I want to move away from it.  My influence is the environment around me.

 

hysterie

Wah Wing Chan, Hystérie, mixed media on paper, 19 x 14 inches, 2011.

 

 What is your work about?  

My subject matter is man-made or nature formed marks.  I look for marks on floors, walls etc. Most people experience their daily lives ignoring them. I want  to bring these underdog elements to light.  My job is to showcase them. My eye can be drawn to a crack in the middle of the street, a ball of tangled wire, a water stain on the side of a wall, a crinkled-up rusted piece of metal. I’m always searching for the unobserved, unseen, neglected visual elements that surround me.  In using these mundane visual elements, I want to draw inspiration from them, create my own imagery and not to represent them exactly as they are.

 

Why and how did you become an artist?

When I first arrived to Canada from Macao I was 12 years old.  I remember sitting in class, not understanding what was going on and doodling a lot in my workbooks.  Later, I was attracted to abstract art making.

 

Would you say that later when you started to practice art, you subconsciously associated the creative act with the comfort and security that you experienced as a young boy when you drew away in your workbooks?

Definitely.

 

mutation

Wah Wing Chan, Mutation, mixed media on paper, 19 x 14 inches, 2011.

 

 

Tell me about your art training.

I didn’t study art right away.  First I got a degree in Retail Management from Dawson College.  I dabbled a bit in drawing before and after that.  I worked for a while in public service related jobs at Multi Mag, and Chinese and Japanese restaurants.  Then I studied Fine Arts at John Abott College where I sampled drawing, painting and printmaking.  I found that I could best voice my imagery through printmaking.  I went on to study at Concordia University where I completed two Bachelors of Fine Arts, one in Studio Arts and a Specialization in Printmaking.

 

You’ve been a member at Atelier Circulaire for twelve years.  How has this  printmaking studio influenced your work?  

At Atelier Circulaire everything is under one roof: lithography, etching, digital printing and collagraphy.  This let me spend periods of time with different techniques and this led me to my own experiemntation where I mix techniques.

 

What would you like to do in the future regarding your work?

I would like to go back to etching, but larger etching.  I want to work in color with multiple plates.  I also want to make more simplified images, less chaotic.  Don’t get me wrong, I still like chaotic.

 

Talleen Hacikyan

N.B. Wing recently published a heart-warming essay of his early days in Canada as a recent immigrant, in The Gazette.

 

Thank you Wing.

Photo of  Wing at the press by Armando Rafael.

Photos of artwork by Wah Wing Chan.

 

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