“I do enjoy the process of uncertainty. "Half Empty, Half Full," is my current portrait painting series which represents two opposite emotions which then conflict with each other simultaneously.”
“I only paint my friends or family members who have a significant relationship with me. I’ve witnessed most of their tipping points and undergone a change after each setback and frustration. I ponder over each of their emotional conflicts and picture them individually because everyone is unique and their life experiences are indeed different.
I do enjoy the process of uncertainty. "Half Empty, Half Full," is my current portrait painting series which represents two opposite emotions which then conflict with each other simultaneously. This concept was inspired by the challenging moments I noticed my friends struggling with. Everyone has experienced turning points and dealt with dilemmas at some point in their lives. My first painting in this series was inspired by a good friend of mine named, Lucky Lu. She is a photography student who struggled to create her own unique style in the photography field. She was criticized and doubted by a friend for being a copycat of another artist. She chose to defend herself by hiding her sorrow secretly. Once she exposed her sadness in front of me, I felt her confidence quickly collapse and destruct. Thus, I wanted to mark down this moment on my canvas in my own point of view. I depicted her standing in front of an intersection and having no clue whether to go left or right. Her pride protected her dignity so she could put on her mask and fight back. Nonetheless, her confidence was already destroyed and dispirited. This is a tug of war between strength and weakness. Likewise, we would never know the results until the last minute. This ambiguous moment is both optimistic and pessimistic at the same time. There must be times in life when you have a crossroad of life. Any kind of decision you make can change your life completely, but there would be no turning back once the choice has been made.
In this series of portraits, I’ve asked my friends to be my models. The only request I had for them was to just look straight at the camera, and countless photographs were taken. The photo shoots were simply plain without any special settings, makeup, or hair, but pure and natural portrait. Sometimes only one out of a hundred photos could fit into my ideas. In this work, I paint bold strokes and smooth transition with big palette knife and brushes. The contrast of hard edges and refine detail represent both positive and negative emotions that I've decided for each individual friend. The surface of my painting is rough with thick paints as if there were a tug of war battling on my canvas. The vibrant colors I chose for two emotions can sometimes be too competitive with to each other; therefore, I have to merge colors with abstraction and distortion in order to balance between the two in harmony and also enrich its mysterious looking. My concept embraces when two opposite emotions exist at the same time and could be either sanguine or depressed because they both exist evenly and compete with each other. Therefore, the outcome of each painting stays mysterious and unpredictable."
Ms. Yi Shin Chiang is a leading Fine Artist from Taiwan, who is now based in San Francisco. Her preferred medium is oil paint, but she is knowledgeable and highly skilled across a range of materials including watercolor, gouache, and acrylic. Ms. Chiang specializes in portraiture, figurative, landscape, and cityscapes; her painting is unique however, in that rather than using her technical mastery to create realistic works in each genre, her interest and emphasis is on exploring the mood and presentation of ambiguity in her subject, whatever it may be. Her distinctive combination of realism and abstraction is referred to by many as transformative artwork. Ms. Chiang developed her passion for painting when she was a mere 16 years old. As she delved further into the art she also discovered her own innate talent for this fine art skill. Ms. Chiang went to high school at Sentinel Secondary School in West Vancouver, Canada. She spent much of her high school career perfecting her artistic skills, and when she was only 18 years old she was commissioned to paint a mural for her high school. The mural has been on display since. She was also awarded second place in the Youth Works category of the West Vancouver Memorial Library’s Remembrance Day Contest, for a graphite pencil drawing, which her secondary school art teacher found particularly moving and opted to submit as a contest entry. This was a major milestone for Ms. Chiang; it was the very external encouragement she needed to enable her to commit to a life as a professional artist. With this award to galvanize her, Ms. Chiang applied to the esteemed Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California. The Academy of Art University is one of the world’s most recognized art schools, attracting aspiring creative professionals from across the globe. To gain acceptance to any of the Academy’s rigorous and highly competitive programs applicants must submit exemplary portfolios and provide evidence that they are among the world’s best up and coming artists in their chosen discipline. Ms. Chiang’s submission was met with delight, and she was accepted to the Academy’s undergraduate Illustration program, where she flourished. After graduating with her BFA in Illustration, in 2010, Ms. Chiang elected to pursue her passion even further, and with much encouragement from her mentors and professors, applied to the Master of Fine Art program at the Academy of Art University. She was easily accepted on the merits of her previous academic record, her stunning portfolio, and her firmly established reputation within the Academy of Art University and San Francisco arts community as an extraordinarily talented and innovative painter and illustrator.
Ms. Chiang exhibited in several prominent shows in 2012, while studying for her Masters Degree. These include at the Taiwan Museum of Fine Art where she was a Finalist in the Beauty of Taiwan contest; at San Francisco’s celebrated Arata Fine Art Gallery, as part of the San Francisco North Beach Cityscapes show; in one of Studio Gallery’s regionally beloved Tiny Shows in San Francisco, CA; as well as in the Academy of Art University’s competitive Annual Spring Show. In 2013 Ms. Chiang took advantage of a remarkable opportunity to study painting and drawing in one of the western hemisphere’s oldest and most important cities for the production and appreciation of art and culture – Florence, Italy. She was selected for the rare honor of completing a summer-term at Florence’s prestigious Santa Reparata International School of Art (SRISA). SRISA is one of Italy’s top art and design schools – no small feat in a country which has been one of the world’s leading exporters of culture, art, and design for nearly two millennia. The chance to study at SRISA represented strong praise for Ms. Chiang’s skills and her breathtaking body of work. In addition to earning her a once in a lifetime chance to hone her craft among the works of the old masters, Ms. Chiang’s remarkable talent and novel artistic vision also brought her several opportunities to exhibit her work in 2013. She showed work in the Academy of Art University’s competitive Spring Show at San Francisco’s renowned Palace of Fine Arts, where she took an impressive Second Place in the Abstract Painting category. She was invited back to San Francisco’s Studio Gallery to participate in another Tiny Show. Perhaps most impressively Ms. Chiang was awarded the Jury's Favorite award in the immensely popular BoldBrush Painting Competition. In 2014, Ms. Chiang’s final year as an MFA student, she also had a number of important exhibitions including the Academy’s Spring Show, in which she took Third Place in the Abstract Category; as well as a solo portrait show entitled Half Empty, Half Full at San Francisco’s popular Cannery Gallery. After graduating with a Masters in Fine Art from the Academy of Art University, Ms. Chiang’s career as a sought after professional artist began in earnest. She quickly began exhibiting throughout the United States, Canada and Taiwan. In 2014 Ms. Chiang exhibited her work in a number of competitive juried exhibitions and prestigious venues. She was part of the Dab Art show at HUD Gallery in Ventura California, an international juried exhibition for which Ms. Chiang’s paintings Frozen the Weakness, and Thesis Study#9 were selected, and for which she was awarded “Best in Show.” Ms. Chiang also had the honor of being selected as a Finalist in the 118th Annual Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club Open Juried Exhibition, at the National Arts Club in New York. Named for the only woman among the 106 founders of New York’s preeminent Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club maintains close ties with this American institution which remains an important part of the international art world.
To have one’s work selected for this iconic exhibition is among the highest forms of praise in the American artistic community, but to be named by the jury as a finalist is an extremely rare honor reserved only for the world’s most accomplished artists. In addition Ms. Chiang was awarded Special Recognition in the Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery’s 5th Annual Abstracts competition. Light Space & Time is an exceedingly important online art clearinghouse. Competition artwork is promoted through over 39,000 visitors, and 66,000 Pageviews each month; additionally over 7,000 gallery owners, corporate art representatives, and decision makers in the fine arts field subscribe to the gallery’s monthly bulletins. As such placing in the top tier of a Light Space & Time competition represents a major advancement in any artist’s professional career, and it is one that is afforded only to the industry’s best. Ms. Chiang was also a Top 20 Finalist in the 2014 / 2015 Portraits Art Exhibition from Artist Portfolio Magazine. Founded in 2010 Artist Portfolio Magazine is a juried publication which reaches over 46,000 unique readers per issue. Reaching the top tier in one of the magazine’s exhibitions is considered a major achievement in the international online art world. Thus far in 2015 Ms. Chiang has been asked to participate in several important exhibitions along the West Coast, including the 19th Annual de Young juried showcase Divergence: Emerging Legacies an Art Event at San Francisco’s world famous de Young Museum for which she was a Finalist; as well as at the 2015 Expressions West Exhibition, at the Coos Art Museum in Oregon. The Expressions West Exhibit features forty-five artists from Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Ms. Chiang exhibited her works entitled Thesis Study #2, Thesis Study #7, and Unknown. Her work Thesis Study #2 was awarded Honorable Mention. Ms. Chiang also took part in the 9th Annual International Au Naturel: The Nude in the 21st Century, Juried Exhibit at the Clatsop Art Center Gallery, in Astoria, Oregon, where she was a Finalist. Further east Ms. Chiang was an esteemed Finalist in the third annual Nude Attitude Exhibition of the Peoria Art Guild Gallery, in Illinois; and exhibited in the 2015 Small Works Exhibit, at the Limner Gallery, in Hudson, New York. The Limner Gallery is known for its controversial and provocative exhibitions, and has been at the cutting edge of the American art world from the time it was founded in 1987, in its original home in Manhattan’s East Village. The gallery remains a major player in the American art community and showing one’s work there is indicative of a high degree of success. Ms. Chiang continues to work on her portrait series, examining the coexistence of opposing emotions, as well as her carefully designed figurative works expressing the dynamic connections between realism and expressionism. Her unique perspective and broad range of execution, combined with her immense technical abilities, have made her work much in demand in the United States today.
Review published by Circle Foundation for the Arts © CFA Press ∙ Images courtesy of the artist