Art doesn’t limit to the self but also acts as a medium to obtain realization, opening our eyes to meanings, perceptions, and understanding. Malaysian artist Man Chien expresses her emotions and vision to illuminate the invaluable connection between humans, commodities, and nature through her creations.
The renowned artist is known for her soft yet vibrant abstract expressionism paintings. Her wearable art is where she evokes emotions, a message, or a story onto a garment, creating an emotional relationship with the wearer and those around them. On the other hand, Noble Silence is a crystal jewelry brand by Man Chien’s joint effort with Hong Kong artist Makin Ma. Each piece embraces a raw uncut crystal made in India, creating natural and wearable tools to help connect with our inner selves. Looking back, we can see the passionate artist’s efforts to encourage the beauty of connection through her expansion of different mediums.
During our short interview, Man Chien responds in a poetic fashion, revealing messages, and developments on her journey, projects and motivations.
Tell us about yourself in 10 words or less.
One color that defines who you are. Why?
White. I like things pure. I can’t say [if I am pure or not]. You have to discover that for yourself.
Share with us the resolutions you achieved in 2021 and goals for 2022.
In 2021, I believe I stabilized myself more in terms of mental health, as well as my personality.
Goals for 2022, I wish for more peace and calmness for the people around us. I do wish, through my works of art, to inspire more love. These two years I realized we have taken a lot of things for granted. In the coming years, I wish we would all use our hearts to look into what is important for us, for people around us, and how we can contribute to inspire more love and compassion.
Despite the pandemic, how do you think your art help you through 2021?
Despite moving around these two years due to the pandemic, I’m thankful for the opportunity to paint. Art has allowed me to rediscover who I am. I used paint to strongly express who I am. This is me; this is Man Chien, this is what I stand for. Within these two years, I felt the pandemic and the whole situation has changed me a lot. I started to discover myself with the flow that brings me through instead of emphasizing “this is me”, to force it through, to stuff it down into my throat, and accept it. I would let things flow. Sometimes, especially when I paint, I don’t even do a draft. I would let the colors lead me and see how my hand guides through what do I feel, with the people, with the environment, with the story that inspired me to document that moment.
Why have you decided to create art through apparel as a blank canvas?
Fashion should be more than what we have seen from commercials, advertisements, and billboards. To me, fashion is something very personal. When I was young, I was wearing clothes that were sewn by my mother, made by her, looking for inspiration through kids’ sewing fashion books from Japan. As we grow up, we started wearing clothes from mass-production, from factories. The people who work behind the whole system, are they really into making clothes? Or are there making it for the sake of making a living? Are they being treated fairly?
Through applying art in fashion, I wanted people to re-examine what is the relationship between fashion and art. Clothes are all handmade even though it’s being sewn by a machine but you still need a human for the operation. Even though we are paying or buying something, we have to remember how did we own everything that we have. The money always goes to the humans who worked behind the scenes. But the relationship – do we pay back to nature? Do we pay back to the trees? The cotton? That’s another story that we have to look into. Through painting, hand-painted on clothes, I want people to have a more direct impact to see that it’s made by a human, not a machine, someone who cares for each piece of garment. This is something that I wanted to do. That’s how it started from the beginning.
What motivates you to create art?
Many reasons motivate me. Sometimes, it’s about documenting an event or an emotion that I want to put down so I can remember it after a few months, a few years, 10-20 years. I painted a piece that spanned four years. It took me so long because the emotions came in and out, on and off. I couldn’t grasp it. Sometimes, it’s about helping people, to help achieve their goals.
Artwork: We All Vibe - Kittie (2021)
Medium: Cross The Line Liquid Eyeliner, Water Color on Cotton Paper
"When we vibe,
we invite all around to
feel what we feel,
see what we see."
Kittie vibes a strong hot pink.
What is in your mind when you create an artwork with the “Cross The Line” liquid eyeliner pens?
It’s very fun! Knowing where this came from, I know Kittie as a person who works very hard and loves what she does. She always brings this vibrant energy when she’s around. When I was working with this collection, the colors definitely reminded me of her personality. I thought, what would Kittie do with all these beauty tools? These liquid eyeliner pens? I believe she would probably do it by enjoying the pen and going with the flow to see what will happen. I drew a portrait of Kittie and put on the makeup with the eyeliners. I used them as a medium to paint, to have fun and celebrate what she has been doing all this while.
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