Chueh Chiao Han: Painting away the Pain

An Interview with Artist Chueh Chiao Han

01.10.2017   - 31.12.2017

Danielle Reid discusses experimental approaches to painting from a female perspective with SomoS Artist-in-Residence Taiwanese painter Chueh Chiao Han, October 22 2017.

Chueh Chiao Han’s work explores the complexity of human relationships, social pressures on the individual, psychological factors such as insecurity, validation, anxieties, empowerment, attraction. Her Bataillean depiction of desire and abandon, pushing against the constraints of civilization, presents us with imagery that is transgressive and innocent at the same time.

Chueh Chiao Han’s Berlin paintings will be presented as part of the “Mutable Self” group exhibition taking place between November 28 – December 2 2017.

Chueh Chiao Han talking about her work at SomoS.

Part I

Can you give a brief introduction to yourself?

My name is Chueh Chiao Han. I was born in Taipei, Taiwan and I’m 28 years old. I graduated from Taipei University of Fine Arts, majoring in painting.

Why did you choose Berlin for an Artist-in-Residence stay, and even more specifically, SomoS? Is this your first time in the city?

I was looking for more possibilities for my artistic career, and Berlin, in my mind, is a place full of opportunities for art. SomoS provides both studio and living spaces for artists, so it’s easier for an artist like me to adjust to the city since this is my first time visiting Berlin.

Part II

What is your preferred medium and what factors contributed to you choosing said medium?

I create paintings mainly about my own personal self reflections. The female form has been a consistent theme in my artworks, specifically drawings, since very early on in my life. I moved on to painting because I felt it was a better way to link my earliest memories, while at the same time, allowing me to explore themes from my current life.

What are the techniques that you use for this medium? Are there any techniques that are unique to your specific practice?

I make paintings without sketching, so every intention, every mark, that happens when I paint becomes an essential element of the completed work. Color and strokes direct my entire process of painting. For me, it’s a very emotional and personal process when I am creating these works.

What, or who, is your inspiration for creating these works?

Many great painters make me fantasize about the way that paintings are able to bring new feelings to everyday life events. Within recent years, artists like Peter Doig, LIU Xiaodong, Marlene Dumas, Apostolos Georgiou and, most importantly, Howard Hodgkins have all inspired me a lot.

What themes would you say are central to your work?

My paintings focus on people, and describe the uneasiness, anxiety, or ecstasy that stem from the human, mostly female, existence in what I hope is an intuitive and straightforward way. Through constantly observing people around me, the way my body operates, and even more specifically computes emotions, changes; my working process becomes a game of sorts: a balance of observing human existence and creating visual pictures which are both interesting and also reflect the reality of what is necessary to fight against the negative feelings that society can cause.

What are your intentions behind the works you currently create? Is it a part of a previous narrative? Is it something new that is specific to the time you intend to spend at SomoS?

The main theme behind my current work is transience. I have dreamed about death of my loved ones during my time at SomoS rather frequently. My grandmother died this year and her death was one of my greatest fears since I was young. To better analyze and unpack the fears that I have been experiencing, I try and reflect these emotions in my current works. I have been drawing about how the human life can be lonely when one encounters uncertain situations. I create the characters of my paintings with very playful strokes; this lets me make fun of my fear of death.

Does your work have a personal connection? If so, elaborate. How do you hope your work will be interpreted by a larger audience?

I want to express freedom and to create a more playful way of painting. For my audience, my only hope is that, after viewing my work, they would better understand my experimental approach to painting. I hope that they would be touched by what I create.

Part III

What do you hope to gain from your time here at SomoS? Personal growth? Artistic growth? Something else?

I hope I will learn to become more balanced and consistent when I am confronted with anxieties that arise during my creative process. I also hope I will figure out the best way to present my larger paintings to an audience.