IFQ Cannes Edition Interview
See the original interview here.
by Nicole Holland
Fang Ling Lee’s artwork focuses on symbolic imagery that is conceived within large-scale transcendental paintings. In Fang's work the union of realism and abstraction parallel the opposing themes that are represented. In this realm of allegory, her figures are the storytellers, led by the icons that exist within.
*Artist Fang Ling Lee with her piece, Time, alongside Actress/Muse Sasha Grey
Fang has been creating art since childhood. The daughter of two Chinese artists, Fang experienced the need to create as a fundamental necessity. The concept of home and studio were one: cooking meals and creating sculpture were often accompanied by her father's storytelling. These formative experiences are what compel Fang's art making. Now a professional artist, Fang is the creator of the stories before us.
Fang Ling Lee resides in Chattanooga, TN where she is inspired by the dualities of nature and industry. Fang has exhibited extensively in major cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and New York. Her recent works have been acquired by the Erotic Heritage Museum in Las Vegas and by private collectors across the world.
IFQ: Which particular artists influence you?
Fang Ling Lee: That’s a hard question because I’m influenced by so many artists. My favorite master would be Caravaggio. I have a lot of modern influences like Lucian Freud. Also my father, C.C. Lee is my most influential artist figure.
IFQ: Actress Sasha Grey (The Girlfriend Experience, Pirates II) is your muse in your piece called Time. How did that come about? How did you approach her?
FL: I actually had admired her from afar. I was at all these shows and she was so beautiful and really cool. I got the nerve to go up and meet her. I just wanted to tell her that it was so nice to see someone like her with a personality because her personality just radiates from her skin. I asked if I could paint her and she said yes. Then two months later, I painted Time. I know that she will be so famous and successful beyond what she does now in the adult industry so that’s why there are time gears in her hair because her time is about to come.
IFQ: Yes, especially Steven Soderbergh’s new movie The Girlfriend Experience. She will be the 2010 Crossover Star of the Year. What was her reaction when she saw the finished piece?
FL: I think she was pretty happy with it. Now I’m doing a big 6 foot painting of her. She is going to be my Judith. Judith and Holophernes is a classical painting of I want to say a Jewish woman, but I’m not 100% sure. This Roman soldier general was going to kill her village and she went to plead her case. She got him drunk, seduced him and cut off his head. So she will be my Judith in my next series.
IFQ: The trademark of your personal style is symbolic imagery. Can you comment on this?
FL: My biggest fear is wasps.
IFQ: I noticed that through your paintings.
FL: One day I got stung by a wasp and I was already scared of them to begin with. I painted Capture because I want to capture my fear of wasps. In that piece, she holds the wasp, hoping to capture her fear of them. But she has also enclosed herself in the bubble because it asks the question: Has she conquered her fear or has fear conquered her? In my paintings, I use that as my symbol because I’m a little scared of what life sometimes brings so I make sure I have that emblem everywhere to help me not to be scared. In my paintings, I use a lot of symbols that just tell a story. It helps it move along and people have their own interpretations, which is super cool. My favorite part is when other people can relate to my paintings and it has nothing to do with what I thought. People see themselves a lot of the time in my artwork and they can communicate with themselves. That is my biggest inspiration when people see themselves in my paintings.
IFQ: Which painting did you feel was your most challenging to date? Why?
FL: I would say the Sasha Grey painting (Time) gave me the most trouble because I am unwillingly thrown into this portrait category all of a sudden. It was one of my first ones that I was going to do of someone known. I didn’t want it to be a portrait. It does look like her, but it doesn’t at the same time on purpose because all my paintings are about what I’m feeling inside. That was the hardest—trying to pull together her likeness and my feelings of myself at the same time.
IFQ: Your work has been acquired by the Erotic Heritage Museum in Las Vegas, NV. How did that come about?
FL: I met Clinton Davison at the AVN’s AEE convention and he loved my work and invited me to come to the museum and it was so stunningly beautiful. It was the most beautiful space and collection and I felt that’s where I belong. I was so fortunate to meet him and he really thought that my work belonged there. Right now, I have pieces for sale in the museum and I will have a show there in June 2009. I’m hoping to bring at least 10 new pieces to show in June.
IFQ: Any upcoming art exhibits and/or projects?
FL: Yes, I will be at Erotica LA, EXXXotica Miami and I think it’s a solo show at the Erotic HeritageMuseum in June. Those are my three biggest ones that I am preparing for at this moment.
IFQ: In one sentence, can you sum up your life as a professional artist?
FL: It’s beautiful torture.