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Editorials

Wayland Chu Interview

Wayland Chu Exclusive Interview

IG: @comacat

What got Wayland Chu invested into the art field?

I’ve been creating for so long that it’s hard to pinpoint what got me into art to begin with. It was fascination and love from the start; I just had to, I guess.

What is your favorite type of music?

Almost everyone when you ask them this question will say that they listen to everything, and I suppose that’s true for me too. But, for the sake of you guys, I’ll get nice and specific. As much as I like oldies like The Doors or The Underground, I listen mostly to today’s music. I love that everything is so genre bending nowadays that it’s hard to even categorize what I like. On the more rock side, I like The War on Drugs, Beach House, Girls, Vietcong, and stuff like Wild Nothing. I love all types of electronic music which is the movement that defines our generation, Holly Herndon, Jessy Lanza, Andy Stott, Arca are just a few that I adore. My desert island band is Death Grips though. Favorite band hands down.

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What are you trying to convey with your artwork? leaving aside that art is being interpreted by the viewer.

I guess the main thing that I am trying to convey is the possibility of the human body. We are bombarded with images of the body in our everyday life, whether advertisement, film, or magazines, and usually these depictions are in a binary of unattainably attractive or crushingly mrdiocre. When I distort my figures, I am to looking to show all the gray area in between those extremes. I try my best to discard gender norms and sexual identity to try to get closer to something that is like a platonic ideal or a Jungian archetype of what a human person is through the distortion of the body. What makes us human? Is it the specific form or is it something much deeper? I make work to try to and explore these questions.

 What type of experiences do you think affect your body of work?

The life changing ones I suppose. Of course, consuming work from other artists is paramount to my own output, so experiencing the work of artists I idolize has great effect on me. But if we’re talking about the real things that change who I am and what I do, it has to be those life altering events. Those overwhelming and transcendent emotions from things like falling in love, having someone die, or connecting with someone you just met in a totally real way. It’s the experiences that really make you feel alive, those are the experiences that subconsciously or otherwise effect my output. If good art is genuine and is a real piece of the person making it, then it takes real change and growth in that person to pull something profound out.

Why figure drawing?

I’ve always found it to be the most interesting subject by far. I can never tire of the way emotion can be expressed through the human body. I love showing humans as these naked apes, these barely concealed animals, or as these emerging types of creatures. As a human and a bit of a narcissist myself, I find the body, like so many other artists, a gold mine of imagery. It is one of the oldest forms depicted for a reason, people are obsessed with themselves and I give into my obsession with it when I create. As the idea of what a person is and can be changes with culture, I want to see if form can still convey that humanity to viewers. I love deconstructing that idea.

You incorporate abstraction, and deconstruction in your figures, what’s the reason behind this practice?      

Oh, perfect segue, I absolutely adore the drawings of the old masters like Rubens and Michelangelo for their exacting beauty and ability to forcibly pull the viewer into seeing the power of the human form; but I also love abstract expressionism which is painting that attempts to illustrate parts of a person’s  thoughts, and give it form. Trying to combine the two in a meaningful and powerful way is what I’ve been striving towards for a long time. I don’t know if it can be done and that’s what makes it so exciting to me. The destruction that naturally comes out of the revisions of my work is probably the most fun I have when creating, it is strangely cathartic to sand away an hour’s worth of work for the ghostly after image it leaves behind. It is like painting but with all of the scars and evidence of the artistic process that are there for you to see. Like in the sketches of Hans Bellmer, Jenny Saville, or Giacometti, their drawings give this sense of moving time and neurotic memories.

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We saw you creating a mural at Massif Studios, do you consider that experience as performance art?

It’s one of those situations where the energy of the crowd informs how I carry myself when I am painting. Most nights, it would be a lot like live painting at the Black Box or Cervantes where the crowd is kind of cheering you on and getting involved with you. Their energy feeds my energy and the whole thing can become incredibly fun. Most nights I might as well just have been partying except I was painting at the same time, which is a riot. A bit of theatrics and showmanship naturally get involved so it is a bit like performance art. Other nights, however, the crowd would either be sparse or a bit quieter, so I would just be painting there as if there was no one else in the room. I enjoyed those nights just as much.

Photographer: Caroline Miller Photography  @carolinemillerphotography   Model Gilly Muniz :  @gilly_muniz   Hat designer: Encounter Hat Company  @encounterhatco   Print/Art: Wayland Chu @comacat  Designer: Julia Rhoden Designs  @juliarhodendesign

Photographer: Caroline Miller Photography @carolinemillerphotography

Model Gilly Muniz : @gilly_muniz

Hat designer: Encounter Hat Company @encounterhatco

Print/Art: Wayland Chu @comacat

Designer: Julia Rhoden Designs @juliarhodendesign

We know that you collaborated with fashion designer Julia Rhoden, how was the experience of seeing your work being on the runway?

It was amazing. Unexpected, exhilarating and so so much fun. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about Julia, who is ultra-talented, incredibly creative and hard-working. She took my pictures and took the images to places that I could never have dreamed of when we first started the project. How she decided to digitally alter my pictures and incorporate them into those physical pieces was so clever and impressive. Seeing the collection walking on the runway was seriously surreal and made me giddy like a little boy. Just so cool to see so many talented people take my images and turn it into an entire event. I have to reiterate that it was Julia and all of the amazing people as Massiff that made the show truly possible. I just made the pictures.

Do you see your work more leaning towards the fashion industry?

I think that the fashion industry is a natural habitat for my work to be able to flourish. My androgynous and sleek figures lend themselves very well to the current aesthetic that exists in the industry, however you feel about said aesthetic.

Photographer: Ricardo Mejia  @ricardomejia_dot_com   Hat Designer: Encounter Hat Company  @encounterhatco   Print/art : Wayland Chu @comacat  Designer: Julia Rhoden Designs  @juliarhodendesign

Photographer: Ricardo Mejia @ricardomejia_dot_com

Hat Designer: Encounter Hat Company @encounterhatco

Print/art : Wayland Chu @comacat

Designer: Julia Rhoden Designs @juliarhodendesign

What art movements inspire you the most?

That’s a hard question. I could name a million things because almost every kind of art rubs off on me somehow, but I’ll narrow it down to some bare bones influences. One the biggest influences on my draftsmanship has to be Jugendstil, which a lot of people associate with Art Noveau, but I associate with more expressionist artists like Schiele and Klimt. I love Japanese Ukiyo-e woodcuts for their elegance and use of color and gradations. I love draftsmen of all eras, Toulouse- Lautrec, Degas, Beardsley, and Bellmer floor me. I love painters as well of course, but the line has always spoken louder to me than the stroke. Having said that, I love Abstract painting for their daring and compositional genius and novelty of mark making.  Arshille Gorky, Albert Oehlen, Helen Frankenthaler, Cecily Brown, and Willem De Kooning have mastered this type of controlled chaos where the figure ground relationship is not at all on stable ground. Old master works from artists like Durer and Rembrandt show me how lines can create the most vivid illusions through meticulous placement. Paul Noble takes this kind of draftsmanship to the extreme by creating this own world through his forms. Outside of what you would find in an art history book, I’ve always loved adult swim, and animated movies and video games when I was in my formative years so that plays a part in my choice of imagery.

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What art movements inspire you the most?

That’s a hard question. I could name a million things because almost every kind of art rubs off on me somehow, but I’ll narrow it down to some bare bones influences. One the biggest influences on my draftsmanship has to be Jugendstil, which a lot of people associate with Art Noveau, but I associate with more expressionist artists like Schiele and Klimt. I love Japanese Ukiyo-e woodcuts for their elegance and use of color and gradations. I love draftsmen of all eras, Toulouse- Lautrec, Degas, Beardsley, and Bellmer floor me. I love painters as well of course, but the line has always spoken louder to me than the stroke. Having said that, I love Abstract painting for their daring and compositional genius and novelty of mark making.  Arshille Gorky, Albert Oehlen, Helen Frankenthaler, Cecily Brown, and Willem De Kooning have mastered this type of controlled chaos where the figure ground relationship is not at all on stable ground. Old master works from artists like Durer and Rembrandt show me how lines can create the most vivid illusions through meticulous placement. Paul Noble takes this kind of draftsmanship to the extreme by creating this own world through his forms. Outside of what you would find in an art history book, I’ve always loved adult swim, and animated movies and video games when I was in my formative years so that plays a part in my choice of imagery.

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Are you familiar with the Der Blaue Reiter? If, so do you have a language for your color scheme?

I am vaguely familiar with Der Blaue Reiter. Kandinsky comes to mind as well as expressionism in general. I take a lot of queues on how to use color from Kandinsky and Gorky actually, but my thoughts on color theory for my own work are immature at best, I am working towards having a language but am still relying on instinct when it comes to coloring my pieces. I tend to favor primary colors because they speak to me on a more primal level. I find pastel and muted tones useful as well.

What is next for Wayland Chu?

I’m going to get down on some horses. Horses will be my next big thing. I might not be joking.

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