Taiping Kunst

Malaysia. Interview with Wang Juan

Wang Juan was born in Hengyang village, Hunan Province, China. In 2014 she graduated from the Fine Art Department of Huaqiao University, Fujian Province. And in 2018 Wang promoted to be Headteacher of the Art Department. She now lives and works in Hua Lian High School, Taiping, Malaysia. Juan’s early upbringing in a remote part of Hunan Province was deeply influenced by the basic and humble existence led by her peasant family and other local communities.

Like all children in the village she played with the toys made by herself from recycling collected objects. She needed to walk for more than an hour to attend primary school. After school, she helped her family to grow vegetables.

Taiping, Malaysia. Can you tell us something about it?
Taiping is not my hometown, it is where I live and work now. It is a very quiet, rainy town where there are many old colonial buildings. The outskirts are covered with tropical vegetation, flowers, rainforests and a lake. It is a very close-knit community and the townsfolk are so friendly. The smell and colours of the street food are sensational rather than just amazing. It is an ideal place for artists or writers to live and create.

王娟Wang Juan

All in all, Taiping appears to be a town lost in time and forgotten by this rushing and stressful world.

My hometown, Hengyang is situated in Hunan Province. Till today, that is the place which makes me salivate at the thought of the local cuisine – there is so much delicious food to eat! The locals are still very hospitable, and as a child, I often visited my neighbour who would welcome me with meals and sweets. Every day there feels like a holiday. My dream to aspire a career in art began there.

What does the art world in Taiping look like?
The art world in Taiping is non-existent, although occasionally there are a few local amateur painters who group together and exhibit their works at the shopping malls. For me, I carry on creating what I enjoy creating – Fabric Collage – and constantly looking for a proper place to exhibit outside Malaysia. I very much enjoy living here, as it has helped me to expand my artistic vision. I can now express my feelings more directly with lines and colour. 

王娟Wang Juan
Spanish Mood, 2019, Fabric collage with hand-stitching onto canvas, 150 X 200 cm

Your techniques are so varied, but the recognition is there. What do all your works contain?
My work contains all the feelings I have about the world and my passion for life, the spirit of Chinese culture, especially the calligraphy and the tropical colours of plants and flowers, and the flat patterns of our traditional paper cuttings excite me.

Can you tell us more about the fabric collage? How did you get into it?
When I came to Taiping, I found that they were many tailors and fabric shops. The locals still keep the habit of buying fabric and bringing them to the tailors to make clothes which inspired me to try to create something unique with the colourful fabrics, and the end result is my fabric collage. Capturing all the beautiful patterns, textures and colours on the textiles and release their energy through my collage.

The locals still keep the habit of buying fabric and bringing them to the tailors to make clothes which inspired me to try to create something unique with the colourful fabrics, and the end result is my fabric collage.

Can you relax while hand-stitching?
No words can express how much enjoyment and satisfaction I get when I pick up my needles and stitch, and indeed, it relaxes me. I can continue stitching the whole day and never feel tired.

王娟Wang Juan
One Off, 2018, Fabric collage with hand-stitching onto canvas, 120 X 160 cm

Your artist statement:
My early childhood was fundamentally happy which is an extremely important part of my life and indeed it had a positive effect on my work. When I began to stitch, all those fabrics, patches, yarns and wools gave me something else to think about and embrace – love, care, co-existence, ambition, hopes and new opportunities. Now that I live in Malaysia, it’s not just the patterns of the local fabrics that inspire me, but the endless forms of the tropical plants and the whole environment. Colour is everywhere. These are emotional and visual statements that go a long way to identifying who we are. All this ignites my imagination.

Wang Juan – www.wangjuan-art.com