Anita Cheng Kit Yan graduated from The Master of Arts in Fine Arts (2018) at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her artworks include mixed media, performance and painting.
Anita concerns about the interaction between the City and its residents. From 2015, she has started a continuing artwork series of a cat lady which creates an impact on the city–residents–environment. Recent artworks focus on inner self-development.
Anita joins various international and local exhibitions among Hong Kong, Europe, and China. Recent exhibition was ” KROPP Extended -International Performing Arts Festival” in Sweden 2019. She also participated in “Crossing Border│ Border Crossing – International Festival of Intermedia 2017” and her first solo exhibition “Disappearing Kwun Tong” was held in 2017.
“In Between protection and isolation, the boundary is established, when it becomes unbreakable, people do not willing to change, so the “boundary” will always be there, limit themselves.
Binding and cutting of boundaries are processes of entering, passing, and overcoming. Only when one begins to have a real understanding can truly see what is going on, and what is brought to him/her from experience.
As human beings, with different boundaries, we have different reactions. Through the reactions, we can have a real understanding…to see one’s inner self… the real surrounding…and the existence.”
Hi Anita! How did it all start for you? And where does your artistic name “Crazy Anita” comes from?
Anita: “Crazy” for me means passionately excited of something, remember that when I first try my painting course in my art study, the process of painting…brush by brush by brush to form images… By doing that continuously, suddenly I have a feeling of “joy” that rises from my heart, and this joyful feeling is so strong that I never met in life! The feeling is that there was an energy overflow from my inner heart and this feeling is so powerful and amazing. Later on, sometimes when I doing my artwork, I also encounter a similar experience, it’s like the joyful together with peaceful moments that arise when doing meditation (actually I practice meditation in daily lives). Therefore I use the word “Crazy” to describe my feeling towards art, my extreme degree of loving art, to go into it and explore it.
And also, maybe sometimes I really a bit mad (laughing) as when I discuss my ideas with my friends, they will say “oh! You are really crazy”.
You have a very unique process for creating your artworks, and you do it in various ways. What’s it like working on many different projects at the same time?
Anita: Actually my artworks include art performance, painting/drawing, and mixed media. Normally I seldom work on different projects at the same time. In one period I did only one project so it can become more focused, but when finished that I may use other mediums or format to present my ideas.
But there are some common things in my art even though I use different mediums is that my works always have cats inside and also my artworks are surrealism. Cats appear in 90% of my art pieces, it is because I can feel the linkage between me and cats (oh it is another long story that why I have a connection with a lady black cat in reality) and I really love cats. In art performance, I use body painting and costume to make myself become a lady cat, then to react with society and express my belief. In painting and other mixed media works, cats also are the protagonists and they always help to symbolize and become the signifier of my theme.
Supernatural animals always appear in my art also. Such as some paintings the animals look like some species in reality but actually they are different (such as my acrylic painting “Guardian” and “Shouting without voice”). In my artwork, the supernatural animals represent the universe/ existence and what they want to tell us.
Did you have a lightbulb moment in your journey as an artist that sparked your commitment to pursue art more seriously?
Anita: I can say that the moment is from the first time I made myself become a moving lady cat. And that period is I started to turn my medium in the art to more aspect, from previously more painting-oriented to mixed media (painting, art performance, photographs, and installation). The lightbulb is from my art instructor, when I was studying art in the past I remembered when I presented my artwork as painting together with a sculpture in an art critic session, he said “ your art is so boring! It is so old-fashioned that you just placed a cat sculpture in front of a painting! Please back home to think about what can be improved!” Actually that time I am so shocked and frustrated as I don’t think my artwork is so bad! But his critic really made me rethink my art and at one moment I suddenly have a “blink” in my brain. That is “I made a cat sculpture and it looks like humans, why I don’t turn myself to become a cat to express my ideas, when these ideas came out I remember that I had a voice in my heart that said “Oh yes, it is! This is what I want to do! So my lady cat series started to develop and now I already developed 8 series of this.
What’s the most challenging part of your artistic process? And how do you overcome it?
Anita: I think the most challenging part is about how to combine different mediums together and make it unique. This process needs to understand the strength and weaknesses of each medium and how to overcome the weakness of some medium and use other mediums to complement or offset it. Such as when I want to express my ideas I can choose different mediums, I can paint, do a sculpture, or make an installation. However I don’t satisfy only to do this, I think if different mediums combined together can make the stories I want to tell to others have more power, and more unique. Therefore I will paint and so some sculpture, then I myself become also a medium to express my thinking. So it is important to how to allocate the different medium together to make it more symbolic, meaningful, and artistic. To do so, I will construct many pictures in my brain and draw them down, so it will have a brief storyboard of what scene and sequence the artwork will be. If there are any “bugs” inside it I may change another form and use another way to do it.
What inspires your creativity?
Anita: The environment surrounding me, what happens in the city (Hong Kong) inspires my creativity. Such as my recent work “Boundaries”, the starting point was I saw many trees in the city were destroyed by the government after a huge typhoon two years ago but actually, the trees can be saved, the government does not care about the life of the trees, just cut them because it is more convenient to handle. I feel angry and sad, the images of those sad trees stored in my brain and reconstruct in my brain by dates to become an initiation of my art performance.
Tell me more about the cutting of boundaries, and your recent series about city, residents, and environment.
Anita: As talked as above, “Boundaries” was inspired by the trees in my city that is forced to cut by the government after a huge typhoon. From such trees, from they are tied by danger tapes before they were being cut, I had a strong feeling that it likes human beings habitual thinking mode that they always set boundaries to themselves…boundaries are setting up by each human being in their own mind to protect and isolate themselves to others, but when it becomes unbreakable, people do not willing to change, so the “boundary” will always be there, limit themselves.
When people are tied by their own boundaries setting a long time they will suffer, so it needs a breakthrough process to let them free. Binding and cutting of boundaries of human beings are the processes of entering, passing, and overcoming. Only when one begins to have a real understanding can truly see what is going on, and what is brought to him/her from experience
Who are a few artists/people that really inspire you right now, and why?
Anita: I love Salvador Dali, his painting and drawings are so inspiring and touch my inner heart. I saw an exhibition of Dali in Berlin a few years ago which shows all his original drafts of painting, the drafts are raw compared with his finished masterpieces, however through the drafts, I can feel his will and emotion are so strong and powerful. The ideas are primitive in the drafts as it is recorded instantly and it is powerful and authentic. Also, Marina Abramovic is the performance artist I like most. Her artworks were so innovative in that era.
What are you working on right now? And where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Anita: Recently I started a needle pen drawing series and it is named “Forest Era”. It involves different animals (mainly are cats) in a mysterious forest and they are doing something like human beings. The animals in the drawings are a metaphor of what society, and human beings were. The series is still continuing and I planned to exhibit them in Hong Kong in 2021.
In 5 years…I not sure…as things changing so rapidly in this world, I hope in 5 years more people can reach my art and share their feeling and feedback to me. I think communication through art is very important. Artists are always like to communicate with people, to express, and to voice out social injustice.
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