Interview with TIM HON HUNG LEE:
When you are creating a particular piece, are you viewing it in the context of your overall body of work, or do you treat it as an isolated piece?
I prefer to treat my work as individual pieces. Whatever painting I am working on encapsulates what I’m thinking or the mood I’m in at that moment. I’m not one of those artists that work on multiples at any given time.
How much does routine play into your process?
There really isn’t much of a routine if I’m honest. Sometimes I sketch, but generally I just let things happen. My works never turn out how I envision them. I may know that I want to paint a certain composition or with an over-riding colour, but in the end they always turn out completely different.
Every mark or stroke I make dictates the next and that alters the painting. Painting, for me is a result of accidents, but also how you control and guide them.
Do you ever feel a cultural, social or political obligation to address certain issues in your work? Do you ever succumb to that sense of obligation?
I believe that what any artist is obliged to do, above all, is to hold a mirror to their world around them. Of course there are different people, different artists, different issues and therefore different mirrors.
You said in an interview with “Hunt and Gather” that “art should be about sharing and inclusion not elitism”. What exactly do you mean?
I still believe art is about sharing experiences and ideas. That is concrete to me.
What I meant by the elitism in art was referring to some of elements of the art world. The issue is when art is seen only as a commodity or status symbol rather than for its intrinsic value.
This is a real conversation I overheard when I went to visit a collection of Chinese porcelain. I think it illustrates my concerns that art is at times, a folly for the wealthy.
Collector – ‘What dynasty is this?’
Dealer – ‘Song dynasty, Tang dynasty or maybe Qing? …Who cares it’s the Expensive dynasty. You should buy it!’
What’s your relationship to precedents? Do you feel you have to fight to give yourself permission (by way of others having done it in the past) to make certain creative choices, or is it something that never enters the process of creating?
I have always had an affinity to the traditions of painting. As a result of my upbringing I am informed by the aesthetics of both European and Asian approaches, though I am by no means bound to them.
We (artists) are extremely lucky to be in the Art’s current landscape. What key figures such as Duchamp and Warhol have given us is an absolute freedom of expression. Therefore I worry little about creative choice or limitations but focus on what feels honest.
What is one thing/person/idea that inspires you right now?
Ultimately my works are an exploration of the Human Condition; so I continue to find new areas of which to focus and meditate upon, as well as returning to develop previous ideas.
Currently I am engaged with the concepts of fatalism and futility. What role these will play in my new works I’m not entirely sure yet, but it seems that’s where my work is heading and I’m happy to play the passenger.
View more of Tim Hon Hung Lee’s work here.