Aileen Chong

My work suggests a dialogue about cultural fusion rooted in personal experiences and is manifested through abstraction. The intent is to establish these recollections in a visceral manner rather than overtly. Metaphorically, they offer a visual pathway to exploring emotions. Each one is like a fingerprint of my emotional state of mind. My background as a female Chinese Peruvian growing up in Long Island, New York, has played a significant role in my body of work.

The majority of my grandparents were born in China and, although, having more of an Asian descent, the primary language growing up was Spanish. My father is the only one who can speak both languages, but did not push learning Chinese onto me. As a child, I did not have a strong gravitation towards one ethnicity or the other, but did feel a closer sense to my Peruvian side because I knew the language. The experience of these multi-cultural dichotomies and its customs and traditions with the values of American life brought a fractured sense of identity. 

The process I developed fuses conscious and accidental methods of painting. Organic forms come naturally and create harmonious fluidity throughout the piece. I utilize the liquefied and unpredictable nature of paint by often increasing its viscosity. Gravity and surface variances pull the medium into multiplicity of directions. I work in numerous layers which help create depth and make conscious decisions about leaving parts visible, obscuring or covering up areas. The reaction between combining certain oil mediums is unpredictable and can manipulate how a piece turns out. The first few layers are completed in acrylic paint to create and build up various textures. At this stage, I incorporate India ink, also water based, to create the calligraphic lines and marks. In Chinese culture, ink is widely used in writing and in art form because it is a way to express the uniqueness of an individual’s thoughts and emotions. Circles are used in my paintings because it is a symbol of the cycle of life and it represents the balance that is sought out in one’s life between good and bad. Then I transition to working with oil paint, which brings the richness, transparency and luminosity qualities I am seeking to the surface. I title my paintings in Spanish because it represents a part of my identity and it was the language instilled in me, which I can understand and speak on a proficient level. With the complexity of paint application and layering techniques, composition and color palette, it offers the viewer a tangible document of the visual language which I am building.