The Art of Mao Tianhua

July 21, 2016 2016年7月21日

China-born and New York-based illustrator Mao Tianhua has an uncanny ability to effortlessly pull viewers into her imaginative world. Graduating from New York’s School of Visual Arts in 2015, she has been conjuring up otherworldly landscapes, surreal organisms, futuristic architecture, and surreal stories ever since. Tianhua’s role in every piece of her art is unchanging; she plays the role of an omniscient being, a creator of worlds.


中国插画师毛天骅毕业于纽约视觉艺术学院,现居纽约。她的作品似乎总能轻易带读者进入另一个次元的世界。她的一笔一划,冷静又细腻地,描绘着现实世界中不存在的地貌、生物、建筑、故事。这种造物主般的视角,是她作品中的共同点。

In Tianhua’s illustration series, A Brief History of Puffisland, she tells a story about a small barren island. In the tale, the quiet island began experiencing a tumultuous series of events: organisms begin appearing, they evolve over time, but stronger creature come along and began eating the weaker creatures, even more powerful creatures come along and devour everything before finally starving to death. The island then reverts to its original state as a quiet and barren landscape. Like her other works, for example Museum of Tomorrow  or The Monsters, Tianhua seems always to be capable of dreaming up new fantastical illustrations filled with an air of mystery, her lively imagination knowing no bounds.


在《噗岛简史》中,她凭空制造了一个噗岛,并讲述了噗岛由一片荒土,经历了一场轰轰烈烈的生命演变,最后覆灭回到原点的故事。同样,在《明日美术馆》、《怪物之门》等其他作品中,她也是如此肆意挥洒着自己的想象力,铺展开神秘和未知感。

She attributes her fascination with mystery and the unknown to her childhood days, when she was first exposed to Asian art. When she was a small child, her grandfather already began to teach her about traditional Chinese painting, but at such a young age, she only appreciated how pretty a drawing was, without fully understanding the artistic concepts behind the work. Later in Beijing, she went to Tsinghua University for a BFA in textile and weaving art. She copied and painted countless Dunhuang murals as part of her studies – she felt quite disheartened and passionless. At that time, she also felt that contemporary designs were far superior. Later as she grew older, Tianhua started favoring Asian arts and realized that a deep appreciation for Eastern aesthetics had always been ingrained in her. Elaborating on how the arts from Asia influenced her, Tianhua says, “This influence doesn’t involve me directly using these elements and techniques. It’s more about the way I establish the atmosphere and tell the story.”


关于这种神秘和未知感,天骅认为它们是来自她从小耳濡目染的东方美学。她从小跟随爷爷学习国画,年幼光景除了墨色在宣纸上晕开的美,对其意境领略无多;进了清华美院染织系后,由于专业要求临摹过大量敦煌壁画,却心生抵触,认为新潮的才是好设计。随着年岁渐长,她意识到东方美学的认同已经深入骨髓。她说:“这种影响不只摘取元素和相同的绘画技巧,更多的是画面意境和讲故事的方式。”

Tianhua’s creation process first begins with a hand-drawn sketch. After that is finished, she then transfers the image onto her computer for coloring. She pays close attention to textures, and every illustration is evidence of this. She tells us, “In order to have the right textures, I would have to experiment quite a bit. For example, I once coated my fingers in paint and rolled it until the paint became little balls. I then dipped a sponge in paint and used it to scrub over the canvas. Lastly, I sprinkled ink onto the damp canvas and would let the droplets of ink expand on the surface. This approach led to some surprising results.”


创作过程中,从手绘草图到电脑上色,天骅对质感的表现格外在意,每张画都会运用大量肌理。她告诉我们:“为了取得合适的肌理需要做大量的试验,比如我曾用手指蘸着油画颜料揉出墨团,用海绵蘸墨汁刮擦,在潮湿的纸面撒上墨汁让其沁开。这个过程充满惊喜。”

Originally from Wuxi, a land of many lakes and rivers, it makes sense that Tianhua would be greatly inspired by nature. “The warm color of opals, the many different forms of microorganisms, the soft texture of jellyfishes, and the smooth tactile feeling of snake scales – these are just some of the things that have appeared in my art,” she says. Her vivid imagination is a culmination of different things she has seen in Wuxi. In addition to Wuxi, the other cities she has lived in, such as Beijing and New York, have also left their mark on her. So it is not surprising to see that her art is rather reflective of all her past experiences.


来自中国水乡无锡的她,创作灵感很多时候来自大自然。“蛋白石的温润光彩,微生物的奇异形态,水母的柔软质感,蛇整齐光滑的鳞片感都曾进入我的作品。”她说。也正是这些元素的有机结合塑造出了她画面满满的幻想感。一路从无锡,到北京,到纽约,每一个她去过的地方都改变着她,让她成为现在成为的样子,而她的作品就成了她心里的映射。

Tianhua believes she is still constantly learning. Whenever she encounters new mediums and subject matters, she is keen to experiment and see what she can create. But besides illustrations, Tianhua reveals a fondness for video games. To her, video games are seen as a combination of music, visuals, and story. She likens playing a well-designed video game to appreciating a piece of art, describing the emotions that both activities can induce in a person. Currently, Tianhua working on animating A Brief History of Puffisland so that it can be turned into a playable video game in the near future.


天骅自认为还处于学习的阶段,接触到新的媒介和题材,她就会想去尝试。除了创作插画,天骅也喜欢玩游戏。在她看来,游戏是音乐画面故事的综合体,玩一个制作精良的游戏就想欣赏一个艺术作品一样,情绪也会跟着起落。她现在正在尝试让《噗岛简史》动起来,伺机将其变成一款游戏。

Websitetianhuamao.com
Weibo: @毛天马华
Behance~/maoth
Instagram@tianhua_mao

 

Contributor: Banny Wang


网站tianhuamao.com
微博: @毛天马华
Behance~/maoth
Instagram@tianhua_mao

 

供稿人: Banny Wang