EXPEDIRE (日月不住空画社) is the voyage of new paradigm in Chinese painting. With the core aesthetics and techniques of traditional Chinese painting, the artist (Mavis, CHAN Hoi Chi 陳海慈) draws inspiration from colors and subject compositions from uKiyo-e and contemporary illustration, and breaks away from the accustomed focus of classical Chinese art.
How it all started
Mavis, CHAN Hoi Chi (陳海慈) practices different genres of Chinese painting and western painting. She studied drawing and painting through the "master-student" mode at Mr Cheng Tin Hok's (鄭天鶴) studio. And, it was where she starting her endless journey in search of a new paradigm in Chinese painting. Her works have been exhibited in local and international exhibitions. She had her solo exhibitions, Inkling of the heart, in 2014 and Interlude and Contrapunctus in 2017 accordingly.
EXPEDIRE was found by Hoichi since 2012, and it was originally named as Miss Rabbit Palette. Later, due to Hoichi’s practice in Buddhism, as she follows its core spirit in being selflessness, she renamed Miss Rabbit Palette as EXPEDIRE in 2016. And the website domain was changed as www.studio-expedire.com from www.mavis-chan.com as well. EXPEDIRE is a Latin word which means disentangle. In Chinese, it comes from 猶如蓮花不著水，亦如日月不住空.
Hoichi hopes the audiences could find the Chinese painting technique based artwork not just landscape, flower & bird or portrait; or even not just done by traditional Chinese painting medium. To her, art is a vehicle to search for and express the beauty through the artist’s eyes. Also, rather than being perfection, true beauty should be a raw and real reflection of an artist’s emotion, mind and soul. That’s why all the works are unique and unable to be repeated.
Hoichi had done various experimental paintings by using Chinese painting techniques, such as, using Chinese brush to paraphrase Egon Schiele’s and Morandi’s works, using brush painting skills to paint a Moomin, and painting the Hello Kitty on a hot air balloon in a Landscape, etc.
All her works are the true expression of the mind, soul, emotion and cultural background. Without an absolute answer, her works can be traditional or not traditional; modern or not modern, the possibilities of Chinese art are reintroduced.
It is just anything the audiences may perceive - a world without boundaries.
Where do my inspirations come from?
In the past, I strongly immersed my emotions into the artworks. And most of them were somehow filled with melancholy. My respectable teacher once told me that every masterpiece was made with blood and tears. Yes, I do agree, still until now. While looking back all those great work among arts, no matter paintings, music or literature, it seems that sad stories are those leaving forever burn marks in our mind. But then a question arises, is it necessary to be sad in artistic creation?
Throughout the years, I come up to realize that melancholy or sadness is not a must. Yes, it indeed acts as a catalyst in helping artistic creation. But too much of melancholy/sadness would be a harm to the artist’s health and could become addictive, as this is what I could see from other fellow artists. So I became withdraw myself from these melancholy and once again reconnect with myself and my artwork from another perspective. The Void.
Now everything can be my inspiration. As I sitting by the lotus lake looking at the flowing fountain and water wave, my mind becomes in a state of void. I “see” imagines. I “see” a girl lying on the tree branches. So I know I need to paint the flowing water, paint the tree branches, paint the girl etc. This is how these work came from. When I encountering the students with celerab palsy, I imagine myself being one of them, and this is how my painting videos came from.
The centre of inspiration is the surroundings, not myself. Pay attention to every tiny thing in our life, then everything can become inspiration :)
What kind of painting I do?
It is quite a frequent question I was asked. “What do you paint?” Usually, I would “Errr….”. It’s hard to come up with an absolute answer, and I don’t know how to categorize my works. My fond of arts started from an early age. In my memory, my first “exhibited” painting was in my elementary kintergarden grade, until now I still remember that painting, that composition, the content and the colors. The arts lesson was always the one I love most in my study life, no matter what kind of arts assignment, handcraft, pencil, or color, etc., I always loved it and had good grades. I also have a Grade 7 piano level background.
Due to our cultural value, my family believed arts was not something worth to invest for their children so that my main study was science. Well, I’m quite good at maths too. I conduct statistical analysis at the university.
My artistic career became more serious when I met my respectable teacher, Mr. Cheng Tin Hok who is a true artist with artistic temper. And we are very alike. I studied the various genres of paintings at his studio with a student-master form. The whole process was like doing postgraduate research. Because I always had some weird questions and we discussed every time in our one-to-one meeting every week.
I asked, “Teacher, can I use this Chinese painting brush to paint Morandi style?” Both my teacher and I love Morandi. We are very much enhancted by his line and color and the simplicity of beauty. My teacher’s eyes shined, and quickly demonstrated me a Chinese brush Morandi. My vision opened.
I asked, “Teacher, how can I express Time in my painting? You know, the mountains and trees, flowers & birds are the same, no matter it was hundred years ago or hundred years later. Do I need to paint an iPhone 4 this year in the painting then an iPhone 5 in another painting next year?”
Sometimes we had a very philosophical discussion, “Teacher, why good people die so early?” “Teacher, what is the value of the artwork?” “Teacher, why there are some dumb people think painting an egg like exactly the real one is so good, why they don’t just buy a camera?”
My teacher always answered me with wisdom. And he always demonstrated me with an “answer”. For me, painting is always the answer. So you will find the answer in my painting.
What do I do apart from painting?
I love plants, I got a lot of plants at the studio. African violet, rose, bowl lotus, and many other various plants. I have a black hollyhock at home too. I always like to buy the seeds when travelling to other countries. I bought a pack of watermelon seed from the US last year but until now still have no place to grow. If you like plants, we can exchange ideas. Or if you have place for me to grow the watermelon, please let me know!
I love running too. This is something I never imagine I’m capable to do until last year (2017). This is not just a sport for me. It can help to purify the body and mind. When I run solo, my mind go void. It was so surreal to run in the early morning 5am. I feel like passing a light tunnel of time (5am was dark) and in the film of WKW. Through running, I learn that things are not happening as expected or planned in most of the time. For example, I don’t expect the heavy rain in the middle of the run road of Tolo Harbour. And I learn to make decision and to have better judgment. If it rains, do I go running? Or do I choose to stay at home? Or do I keep going or go finding a shed?
Reading is my life habit since I was a children. My first novel book was given by my bro and then I fell into this no u-turn dark hole since then. I loved Japanese detective novel, especially the Calico cat holmes and Three sister investigate series by Jirō Akagawa when I was F2 and F3. I read Dream of the red chamber when I was F3 and completely didn’t understand the content even finished the whole book. Sam Mo (Echo Chen) 三毛 ’s works were my must read items. I found the Chinese version of In search of lost time at the school library during lesson break. As an innocent teenager, I was completely amazed. How can one write so many words! I found so painful to write more than 1000 words in the school assignment. Yes, writing was something I love too.
Movie I watched a lot and I forgot a lot. But then there are some really can leave in my mind. Music, needless to say. I played the piano since I was in primary school. I was a lazy student who never put too much time in practising. I always only practice before the lesson. I also got some very hilarious stupid moments during the piano examinations too. Maybe I was a natural born lucky person in piano exam. For example, there was a time in the singing part, my key was probably not right. The examiner was so nice. He gave me another chance to sing again. But still I was not so right. Ended up he sang with me and gave me not a bad grade. Another time in sight reading, I was also playing not so good, but I was so self indulging, the examiner gave me another chance and told me the right way to play. There was another time I locked the door after the exam acciednally and the door couldn’t open. I literally locked the examiner and myself in the room! Until now I remember there was an examiner ask me my Chinese name and how old I was. 15, I said. He said, Im 50. And then he brush out laughing.
There are many other funny things I do apart from painting. All these pieces build up together to form my life.
I hope you would know more about me now. If you would like to get in touch, to have ideas exchange or to know more about my artworks, please feel free to contact me.