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Thursday 2 May 2024

Artist Interview: Yin Wang


Yin Wang won the best Original Print, in the Gallery at Green & Stone ‘Works on Paper’ exhibition earlier in the year with her Etching and Aquatint original print titled ‘THE COMPANY’. Primarily known for her paintings (previously she was shortlisted in the ‘Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year’ in 2023), she occasionally ventures into sculptures and printmaking.

We spoke to Yin to talk about her work powerfully eery print that won the award.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your practice?

I am a figurative and portrait artist born in Nanjing, China. Having been away from my hometown since I was 18 years old, I have lived in Shanghai and Hong Kong before coming to the UK six years ago. After losing passion for my job as a commercial fashion designer, I decided to reignite my dream of being an artist by first becoming an art student. Currently, I am in my third year of BA fine art at Art Academy London. I primarily make paintings, and occasionally ventures into sculpture and printmaking. As an artist of the Chinese diaspora, my work serves to maintain a connection to my roots. My work explores various aspects of my identity, familial relationships, my connection to my homeland, and my perspective on China from the outside. Furthermore, I imbue my work with significant values, such as the importance of family and love. People are the eternal subjects of my work, and my artistic process revolves around empathy for my subjects. I strive to offer a unique perspective on Chinese people, culture and society from the outside, hoping to evoke a nuanced and thoughtful response from viewers from different communities and social groups, inviting them into something both strange and familiar.

Untitled, Maquette in wax, 2023
Photo credit: Yin Wang
THE COMPANY is powerfully eery and full of emotion. Can you expand on the narrative behind the work?

This work is a reflection of my inner world, which has remained largely concealed during my years away from my family and motherland. The subject depicted in the picture was inspired by a small wax maquette that I created to capture the ephemeral movement of a life model. This particular movement resonated with me due to its sense of loneliness and vulnerability. The shadow-like companions in the picture were inspired by Li Po’s poem 'Drinking Alone With the Moon' from the Tang Dynasty. In the poem, Li relieves his loneliness by drinking with the moon and his own shadow, creating a trio. In my picture, however, the shadows remain more ambiguous, mysterious, and metaphorical, also forming a trio. These two companions are open to interpretation and may represent something different for each viewer. While the overall tone of the piece may seem depressing, it actually centres around 'the company'—whatever form it may take.

By Yin Wang on Saunders Waterford 

Where do you draw inspiration from in your wider practice?

My process usually starts with a theme rooted in my experiences as a member of the Chinese diaspora. The rich cultural elements and my motherland provide a constant source of inspiration. Often drawing inspiration from ordinary people's lives in China, Chinese social media and news, as well as my and my family’s recollections of our lives in China, I am also influenced by Chinese mythologies. Aesthetically, I draw inspiration from Chinese traditional art, especially ink painting, architecture, and folk art for my use of colour and materials, as well as the way I manipulate paint or other materials.

You used Etching and Aquatint as the printmaking methods on this piece, what qualities did you look for in the paper used for the print?

For the printmaking process of this piece, I prioritised paper with a heavy weight to withstand soaking in water and pressing through a press. It needs to be strong enough to endure these processes without falling apart in the water or being cut by the plate under the press. Heavyweight paper also helps to prevent warping during the drying process. Additionally, I considered the absorbency of the paper to ensure it would interact well with the inks and allow for crisp and clear impressions.

By Yin Wang on Saunders Waterford

Can you explain the difference between etching and aquatint and how you use these methods in your practice?

Etching and aquatint are both intaglio printmaking techniques, but they differ in terms of their processes and visual outcomes. In etching, an image is incised into a metal plate using acid, resulting in lines and textures that are bitten into the plate. Aquatint, on the other hand, involves applying a powdered resin to the plate before exposing it to acid. We can create tonal areas of varying densities by applying the stop-out varnish on the plate to designate the exposed areas and controlling the reaction time between those areas and acid for different shade. In my practice, I utilise etching to create line marks. You can also achieve this using dry point, but with etching, you don’t have to press hard, which greatly improves the fluidity and intricacy of the lines. Aquatint, meanwhile, allows me to achieve broader tonal ranges and atmospheric effects. By combining these two techniques, I am able to achieve a rich and nuanced visual language in my prints.

By Yin Wang on Saunders Waterford

Looking ahead, are there specific themes or projects you are excited to explore in the future, or new mediums you are considering incorporating into your artistic practice?

Definitely! I'm currently exploring the theme of parting and separation, closely tied to my experience of being far away from my family and motherland, which could potentially be a recurring theme throughout my lifetime. Experimenting with various materials such as rice paper, slate, wire, and ceramics, I aim to evoke a powerful emotional impact on the audience but in a soft and subtle manner. Additionally, I am keen to explore the theme of Chinese student life and the education system in the near future, inspired by hot topics on Chinese social media.

Yin Wang receiving her award from Alan Walker,
Charman of St Cuthberts Mill and Hester Baldwin
from the Gallery at Green & Stone
To view more of Yin Wang’s work:

Sky Portrait Artist of the Year S10 2023, view here.

Yin Wang won Best Original Print at the Gallery at Green & Stone ‘Works on Paper’ Exhibition 2024 - visit website.

To learn more about the Saunders Waterford range visit our website.

Article originated by The Gallery at Green & Stone, as part of their 'Works on Paper' exhibition. Our thanks to them for allowing us to replicate the piece.

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