Taking a Stand
Tatler Malaysia|June 2021
Whether it’s art for art’s sake or one with a cause, Red Hongyi and her team are pushing against the conventional confinements of contemporary art
Koyyi Chin

“My late grand-uncle was an oil painter who used to paint posters for the Chinese Communist Revolution,” artist Red Hongyi recalls, visibly wistful as she peers over the phone while I scroll through her Instagram story highlights. “He was initially trained and influenced by European paintings, and had even done some of his landscape paintings before most of his original work was destroyed during the revolution.”

“The artists had to paint a very specific style, you see,” Red continues. “It was all about using vibrant colours and drawing healthy-looking people—they weren’t allowed to do it their way, nor were they allowed to truly express themselves.”

The whole ordeal, Red says, scarred her grand-uncle so much that he never picked up his brush again, but that never stopped him from helping his grand-niece.

“Whenever I brought my work over, he’d give me comments like ‘oh, your portraits are good, but you’re not getting the shading of the mouth right! You need to remember that the teeth have curvature!’” she laughs. “Which is why I always ask my subjects to close their mouths whenever I draw portraits now—I get nervous whenever I have to draw teeth.”

Referring to him as one of her biggest mentors, Red remembers a pivotal moment in 2018 (the last she ever saw of him before his passing in that very same year), where her grand-uncle had immediately recognised her charred weave piece before she even announced it as such. “He’s always told me that in order for an artist to have a unique voice, one simply had to be themselves and not try to be like anyone else.”

Evidently, she’s taken his advice to heart; from getting her masters in architecture in Melbourne to becoming a full-time architect in Shanghai, Red never gave up her passion for art. Piecing together larger-than-life installations of China’s influential figures such as a 100,000-sunflower seed portrait of contemporary artist Ai Weiwei to using nothing but basketballs to illustrate basketball player Yao Ming in 2012, the artist took the world by storm and was dubbed ‘the artist who paints without a paintbrush’ by many.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM TATLER MALAYSIAView All

Environmental Essentials

With sustainability built into infrastructure, we can afford a greener way of life that is practical and effortless

2 mins read
Tatler Malaysia
December 2021

Can Clean Energy Save Us from Climate Change?

Three clean energy leaders weigh in on the state of the environment and what can we do to save the planet

7 mins read
Tatler Malaysia
December 2021

A City on the Merge

Discover why integrated developments are becoming popular because of the absolute convenience they offer

2 mins read
Tatler Malaysia
December 2021

Reset and Recharge

Discover One&Only Desaru Coast’s all-round wellness retreats with Tatler friends Datin Wira Sabrena Dani and Datin Dian Lee

3 mins read
Tatler Malaysia
December 2021

IN THE NAME OF GIVING BACK

Just like she was given the opportunity to realise her potential so many years ago, Datuk Nicol David now casts her eye to nurturing the next generation of budding talents

9 mins read
Tatler Malaysia
December 2021

An Enchanting Holiday

As Sabah welcomes interstate travellers once more, there’s something for everyone to enjoy a true Sabahan experience

3 mins read
Tatler Malaysia
December 2021

Retirement Nixed

Nyx founder Toni Ko talks to Doris Lam about her latest venture

2 mins read
Tatler Malaysia
December 2021

Taking It in His Stride

Kevin Wu loves a good challenge; he manages not one but three businesses. We learn how he splits his time being a lawyer, furniture retailer and cricket farmer

5 mins read
Tatler Malaysia
December 2021

The Hybrid Office 101

The next normal will require some changes in the work structure as well as in employeremployee relationship. Here are a few must-do’s

3 mins read
Tatler Malaysia
December 2021

The Power of Holistic Living

Can a place make you healthier? Having the correct infrastructure can help you lead a well-rounded life

2 mins read
Tatler Malaysia
December 2021
RELATED STORIES

The New Fighter At the CFPB

Rohit Chopra wants to know more about tech companies’ plans for financial products

5 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

Next on Your Plate: Bug Burgers

The faux-meat industry is starting to explore fruit fly patties and mealworm nuggets

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

Ready Aim Omicron!

Drugmakers always knew variants would arise. The latest will test their preparedness

5 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

Crossing Borders With Crypto

A Mexico-based startup says it can send remittances from the U.S. cheaper and faster

5 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

A Crash Course in Omicronomics

Sussing out the impact of the new coronavirus variant on growth and inflation

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

Treasure Hunters Of the Stalled Supply Chain

For salvage companies, an unclaimed shipping container is a potentially profitable mystery box

6 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

In the EV Age, Hyundai Still Has High Hopes for Hydrogen Cars

The South Korean automaker sees fuel-cell technology as key to decarbonizing global transportation

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

The Next Accounting Fiasco

Twenty years after Enron’s failure, investors are still vulnerable to corporate numbers games

5 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

When Same-Day Delivery Is Too Slow

Gopuffis trying to outrace its competitors in the “dark convenience store” business

6 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

Health The growing influence of Apple on healthcare

In a 2019 interview with Mad Money’s Jim Cramer, Apple CEO Tim Cook said: “If you zoomed out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question, ‘What was Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind?’” After a short pause, he answered his own question: “It will be about health.” Two years on, his vision is already becoming a reality for the company.

5 mins read
AppleMagazine
December 03, 2021