Painting without a brush, this artist transcends convention and borders

Painting without a brush, this artist transcends convention and borders

Known as “the artist who paints without a paintbrush”, Red Hong Yi creates mixed media installations by reinterpreting everyday materials such as tea bags, bamboo, and sunflower seeds. She uses her artworks to explore themes of identity and race.

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Red Hong Yi sinks a tea bag into the steaming water and watches the clock. Once the pouch is stained to the perfect hue, Hong removes it and carefully positions it beside 20 000 other tea bags. The varying shades combined form a mountainous portrait of a man pouring teh tarik, a Malaysian drink and a symbol of Hong’s multi-cultural heritage. Born in Malaysia to Chinese parents, she studied in Australia and now lives in Shanghai. Known as the artist without a paintbrush, Hong’s mixed-media installations transcend convention and borders. 

Using everything from sunflower seeds, egg shells, bamboo and even socks, Hong captures the current zeitgeist in powerful artworks that compel viewers. “These materials are familiar to everyone,” she says. “Because of that I am able to communicate with people easier.” A master of perspective, Hong not only transforms the public's view of everyday materials, but also tackles complex social issues. Her latest series, I am not a virus, addresses racist attacks against Asian people in the wake of COVID-19. “Art has the power to change society,” Hong says. 

In 2020, Tatler Hong Kong recognised her as one of Asia's most influential voices. Igniting crucial conversations, she’s given a face to people’s struggles. Transforming the ordinary into art, Hong challenges society to take a step back, see the bigger picture, and enact change. “We only have one life – make it worth living,” she says.

Red Hong Yi

This artist creates critical statements from objects you might have hidden in the pantry.

Geplaas deur Beautiful News op Donderdag 13 Augustus 2020

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