Giving a new definition to contemporary art from China, Art Scene China's latest exhibition features 2 expatriate women artists: French artist Sylvie Coevoet and Chinese-Malaysian artist Veronica Ann Lee, both living and producing artwork in Shanghai. These two artists combine the influence of their own backgrounds with the effect that living in Shanghai has had on them to produce their own unique blend of international contemporary art from China.
An "experimental artist", Veronica Ann Lee utilizes all sorts of media for her artwork, such as glass, fabric, acrylic, Malaysian batik, watercolour, crayons, cardboard, rice, and whatever else she feels is appropriate for each artwork. She combines all of this onto all sorts of non-standard surfaces. She is ever in search of: "the perfect match of paint and surface". Lee explains: "New combinations are always so interesting. Each art piece is an experiment. I never know if the end result will be worth keeping!"
About her relationship to China, Veronica explains: "I have been in China for 11 years. Most definitely, I have been inspired by all things Chinese. Having said that, I still retain a contemporary outlook at all times, and only allow myself a touch of 'Chinoiserie' to come through, to signify that the art piece is being created in China."
Lee's paintings can be viewed in a symbolical or metaphorical way, like "Lotus Dream" where she shows a Chinese-style embroidered shoe against a background of lotus flowers, referring to the tradition of binding women's feet which were then called "lotus feet". For Veronica "the contemporary depiction of the 'lotus flower' opened wide, represents the opening of the mind and the stoppage of the bound feet."
Veronica Ann Lee began painting during her early school days but she only continued painting on and off until 1986, when she got back into full swing. Having no formal art education apart from normal school classes, Veronica received some lessons and advice from famous Beijing artist Mao Mao in the mid 1990's, who encouraged her to put brush to paper without first drawing any outlines.
Southern French artist Sylvie Coevoet spent many years in Malaysia (Veronica Ann Lee's home country) before moving to Shanghai more than two years ago. Like Lee, Coevoet has also been influenced by her Asian and Chinese surroundings. She incorporates many such aspects into her abstract pieces. She is particularly influenced by Asian colours, and she employs Asia's "vivacious forms and vibrant colours" within her artwork.
Coevoet's employs colours she personally appreciates in her abstract compositions, putting together a harmonious and peaceful, yet positively energizing colour palette. Chinese tradition places much importance on colours; for example - historically in China, permission was not granted to the general public to use certain colours. Coevoet employs vibrant red and yellow tones, gold and silver and many combinations of these colours - all of which have deep roots in Chinese culture. The artist also uses small pieces of different sorts of papers, such as banknotes, images and gold leaves, to overlay her compositions. Coevoet describes her paintings as: "a mixture of matters, a re-transcription of religious symbols, a search for the sublimation of the golden paper".
Like Lee, Sylvie Coevoet‚s paintings are inspired by living in China, not always in a literal way, but rather in an emotional way. Each name given to her canvases reminds her of a road, a place, an atmosphere or an emotion. Apart from a new series of "Petits Papiers d'Or" (little golden papers), Coevoet has also began another series of paintings named "Ocres de Chine" - Ochre of China. The French artist explains that she has been influenced by: "Mélange des cultures, richesse de l‚artisanat, athmosphere des lieux, attitudes et vie des gens." (a mixture of cultures, the richness of the artists, the atmosphere of the places, the attitudes and lives of the people).
Similar to Veronica Ann Lee also Sylvie Coevoet's artistic roots also started early. She has been fascinated by arts and has been painting since she was a young child. While studying for a degree in communication and public relations, Coevoet simultaneously took painting classes. Even after she had her two daughters, the French artist continued paintings - often encouraging her children to paint their own works alongside in her home studio.