"Through my large-scale drawings, my hope is to minimize the distance between humans and animals. I want the viewers to engage with my work emotionally and/or physically, and be overwhelmed with a sense of vulnerability and wonder by the sheer size" - Fiona Tang.
Imagine yourself walking in the wilderness amongst the wild creatures that inhabit it. Or diving into the vast ocean with a humpback whale or a ferocious shark. There is not much out there that can bring such feeling of vulnerability and excitement through two-dimensional drawings than the large-scale animal murals by Vancouver based artist Fiona Tang. With the use of charcoal, chalk pastel and acrylic, Fiona masterfully created depth and perception that "tricks" the viewer's eyes into thinking the subject is 3-Dimensional, giving the impression of the animals emerging from the wall.
As an advocate for and lover of wildlife, Fiona's dream is to tighten the bond between humans and animals through her expressive and realistic large-scale drawings. "Through interacting with these animals, the audience is made aware of their existence and I hope to reverse the passive relationship between the viewer and artwork," says Fiona.
We were fortunate enough to connect with Fiona for a short interview regarding her path and the inspiration behind her work.
We love stories. Can you tell us what led you to become an artist?
I first discovered my passion for art when I was attending University of Northern British Columbia. I was a science student majoring in Biology. Science came naturally to me—I understood and excelled at it. But being the top student in class didn’t satisfy me the way I thought. I wasn’t excited and all I felt was emptiness. I could not imagine dedicating my entire life to science when I could barely get through 4 years of it. After numerous counseling sessions, walks, and hikes, I decided to discover ways to feed my soul. This is when I found art and art found me. Sketching made me whole. My councilor said to me “you have a lot of skills for science but no passion. And you have a lot of passion for art but no skills.” Either outcome wasn’t going to be easy, but I followed my heart. This was the beginning of my art journey.
Why did you choose the type of painting you are known for?
Through my large-scale drawings, my hope is to minimize the distance between humans and animals. I want the viewers to engage with my work emotionally and/or physically and be overwhelmed with a sense of vulnerability and wonder by the sheer size. Through interacting with these animals, the audience is made aware of their existence. The subjects are chosen with a strong urge to translate them onto paper and usually reflect what I am experiencing in my personal life at the time of execution. The animals help to represent abstract forms of battles, struggles, or successes in my life. I retain the raw beauty in their forms, the energy, and the story behind the animal to my fullest capability through research. My subject and I truly become one through the act of drawing and my feelings are translated through the intense gestural mark makings and the use of trompe l'oeil.
Do you have a favourite subject/ animal to draw? If yes, what is it and why?
I don’t have a favourite animal to draw, it all depends on how I am feeling at that moment. The animals choose me and they represent my state of mind and emotion.
What are some of your favourite past works?
One of my favourite works is “Shark VS Humpback Whale”. I was given a small enclosed space to work with and I remember thinking how I am going to make big drawings when I can barely step back. That is when I came up with the idea of pushing my art further with multiple trompe l’oeil points! I drew the shark right at the corner of the wall so that no matter where the viewers look, the mouth of the shark follows them. And I made the whale’s head emerge from a different angle to the shark which furthers the complexity of the drawing.
Do you have a muse? What are some things that inspire you when you feel lost?
I go for hikes or long walks at the beach whenever I feel lost. I find meditating to the sound of waves and listening to the music of mother nature really clears my mind. I love watching animal documentaries! David Attenborough inspired my love for animals greatly. Thank you Sir Attenborough!
What do you plan on doing next? Where do you envision your art career heading?
I plan to become the voice for the animals, to bridge the gap between modern society and nature. To raise questions and awareness of the importance of animal conservations, and to work with organizations like WWF and Artists for Conservation in the future.
We want to thank Fiona Tang for taking the time to share her passion and inspiration with us. We are truly inspired by Fiona's dedication to bringing a voice to the animals by spreading awareness through art. Fiona will be exhibiting her artwork alongside Vancouver artist Caitlin Reid at the Gryphon Musée at 5659 Dunbar Street, Vancouver, from June 5th to the end of summer. Exhibition hours are Monday - Friday from 11AM-4PM.