I consider art as a routine of meditation and the role of an artist as an observer.

QiuChen Fan was born in Kunming, China. She received BFA in Drawing from Cleveland Institute of Art in 2015 with “Excellence in Drawing” award scholarship. After graduating from school, she started as a freelancer doing graphic design and illustration, while continued her art practice in home-based studio.

QiuChen mainly works on stretched canvas with acrylic paint in recent years. Being inspired by collage art and graphic design, she's now focusing on a machine-like painting practice without stroke-marks. She considers this mimic of digital manipulation through laborious paint-application as a self-deprecation living in technology dominated age. Her work explores the co-existence of contradictions and human related topics, such as environment, social behaviors, contemporary lifestyles and consumer culture. QiuChen is currently living in US.

Interview of QiuChen Fan for Gallery Crillon

How would you describe your artistic style?

My style was strongly influenced by collage art, digital printing, and graphic design, especially my most recent paintings. Design thoughts like limited use of color and minimal compositions help me build a bold and surreal environment on canvas. I am now focusing on a machine-like painting practice without stroke-marks. I consider this laborious human-touch as an analog mimic of digital manipulation, and also a fun-making of ourselves living in the age of technological supremacy. Andy Warhol said: “I want to be a machine.” I would say: “I want to pretend like I am a machine.”

Are there any particular artists, art movements or visual traditions that influence your work?

Kara Walker’s paper-cut figure silhouettes inspired me a lot. Her idea of “nothing tells more” is exactly what my abstract portraits want to say. Our form of expression exists in between highly representational and highly symbolic, which means this kind of art leaves a lot of space for personal interpretation and reflection. By erasing the identifying details in almost all my characters, viewers are invited to complete the scenario by using their own experiences. Also, David Hockney’s use of fast-drying acrylic paint portraying the sun-lit, clean-contoured suburban landscapes of California fascinates me. I haven’t tried his masking technique of painting using rollers. I am still sticking with the traditional application of paint by brush.

What do you feel when you create an artwork?

I am normally inspired by situations we’ve lived in (news/social events). I consider the role of an artist as an observer, and art is the way to meditate what has been observed. It’s possible for me to work on multiple canvases that have been roughly sketched out where each painting within the next stage requires accurate applications of paint. As a result, the whole duration for completing each piece could be stretched much longer.

Can you tell us about a project you are currently working on?

About the series called "Manikins" which I started in 2017 and continued building on it, I played on cliches of identity and culture at the beginning, as you can see in one early piece called "Standing in Front of The Mirror" (2018).

Later, I wanted my work to be more specific, personal and private. I started to develop my figures in a way that blended into backgrounds or into each other, as you can tell from the piece like "Susan" (2018). Along with my works in progress, I started to bring questions like: what does it mean to be “well-dressed”? What look makes you a “nerd”, a “natural beauty”, too “conservative”, too “pretentious” or too “feminine”? Because we still judge people through these visual cues, no matter how rude or ignorant. I set the tone at the moment for this group of paintings as a portrait of the word “stereotype”, and viewers would be invited to use their accepted knowledge to enrich it and continuously make their own stories.

For a pieces done after 2019 in this series, I finalized thoughts for those well-dressed figures to symbolize our excessive concern about how people would understand us through the way we present ourselves, while questioning our general and careless acceptance of culture oppression from westernized aesthetics and values.

What would you do in life if you had not become an artist?

I don't really know. My mom wanted me to learn business related major in college. The only thing I can confirm is that I'm not a business person for sure.

What is your studio like?

My studio is home-based and I recently moved it from a second-floor room to my basement, which allows me to have more space to make a mess like painting, packaging or whatever I need to do. I even created a lounge area in my studio. I try not to burn myself out with super long hours working. With the lounge area, I can take a break anytime without leaving my studio. So, in any of my studio days, I would get my painting tools prepared on the side table, open the windows, close the door, fill myself a bottle of water, turn on my favorite music station on Pandora, and then, finally, I am ready to start.

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Artist's artworks

« HABITAT »

« MANIKINS »

« VULNERABILITY AND ENDURANCE »

Artist's credentials

Press article (2021 - 07 - 02)
"A different approach to conversation" on The Chautauquan Daily, US, by Jordyn Russell
Art publications (2021 - 02 - 09)
Artist interview on The Curator's Salon, UK, by Gita Joshi
Group exhibition (2021 - 06 - 27)
"Co-Existence: Works by Cecile Chong, Jennifer Ling Datchuk, QiuChen Fan, and Cathy Lu" at Strohl Art Center, Chautauqua, US
Solo exhibition (2020 - 03 - 06)
"Manikins" at Larkin Arts, Harrisonburg, US
Group exhibition (2020 - 01 - 15)
"Green" on Site: Brooklyn Gallery, New York, US
Solo exhibition (2015 - 01 - 12)
"Gallery as Boutique" at Eclectic Eccentric, Shaker Heights, US
Solo exhibition (2015 - 05 - 05)
"Self-Portrait Over Time + Absences", BFA at Joseph McCullough Center, Cleveland, US
Prizes / Awards (2014 - 05 - 02)
"Excellence in Drawing", Francis J Meyers Scholarship, Merit, Cleveland, US
Prizes / Awards (2011 - 09 - 01)
Dean's Scholarship from Cleveland Institute of Art, Merit, Cleveland, US