Portrait of the artist
Tell us about yourself, how did you become an artist?
I had a late teenage rebellion at the age of 20. I dropped out of college, where I never completed the structural engineering major in University of California, San Diego. I was lost. I found an art supply store near where I lived. I discovered the artistic side of myself for the first time in my life. Making paintings in my room was the most joyful thing during that time.
What is your background? and how did it inform the focus of your creative exploration or the medium you're currently working with?
My work is in conversation with abstract expressionism, figuration and surrealism. I use cartoonish self portraits to discuss frustrating situations I encounter as an Asian female.
As a Taiwanese female painter who relocated to Brooklyn, New York, I constantly wonder about my standing in contemporary painting. How can I amplify my cultural background as a Taiwanese person, whose country is still fighting for its own democracy with Mainland China, while simultaneously the history of western painting in my work?
What ideas interested you in the beginning of your practice, which ideas have you continued to explore, and where have they led you?
I start painting by making abstract expressive forms. I seek figural prototypes, in a way that a little girl sees the shapes of clouds as dogs, rabbits or anything she recognizes from her memory and imagination.
I amplify and re-arrange these elements into characters, which are developed to be the key components in activating the feelings and stories behind my work.
For example, orange is the heat suffocating a dying turtle (Self-Portrait, 2019). The steady long stroke indicates the determination of a lion-like girl’s arm to conjure an appearance in an empty desert (Animal instinct, 2019.)
Who were and are the biggest sources of your inspiration?
Marc Chagall, Judith Linhares, and Maria Lassnig
Where do you find inspiration?
Animal photos, street scenes, childhood memories and daily life experience
work in progress/ studio view
work in progress/ studio view
Is there are a single work, project, or series that is pivotal in your current trajectory?
I am making a series of small paintings ( around 11 x 14 inches.)
By scaling down the sizes, I can focus on thicker paints (not worrying about the material cost that much.) Accidents, or mistakes happens more often in these works. They give me a fresher and more direct perspective to see my practice and learn form them.
How did it begin? and how did it evolve?
When I make larger scale paintings (50x 55 inches), I usually waste a lot of the paints.
I started to collect these wasted paints, and began to use these wasted materials on small panels every time before I left studio.
Grandfather and me, oil on canvas, 14 x 18 inches, 2019
a flower, oil on wood panel, 11 x 14 inches, 2019
Summer movement in Taiwan, oil on canvas, 11 x 14 inches, 2019
Winnie Xi, oil on canvas, 11 x 14 inches, 2019
Tides, oil on canvas, 11 x 14 inches, 2019
Another self portrait, oil on wood panel, 11 x 14 inches, 2019
Beginner, oil on canvas, 11 x 14 inches, 2020
Home, oil on canvas paper, 11 x 14 inches, 2019
A lovely date, oil on canvas paper, 11 x 14 inches, 2019
Pass by, oil on canvas, 11 x 14 inches, 2019
Tsailing Tseng (b.1991 Taipei, Taiwan) received her MFA in the Painting and Drawing Department at School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2018, and her BFA in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in 2016.
Tseng is a recipient of Shandaken Projects: Paint School fellowship in 2020; Anderson Ranch Arts Center Artists-in-Residence Award in 2020, the Mercedes Matter | Ambassador Middendorf Prize, selected by Nichelle Beauchene, Christine Berry, Steven Kasher, and Issac Lyles in 2019; as well as the Carrie Ellen Tuttle Fellowship from School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2018.