"My works emphasize the predominance of personal memories over race,
origin and heritage as a foundation of identity in the 21st century."
Odilia Fu creates paintings that reflect her move from suburban United States back to her
birthplace of Hong Kong. Her works capture subjective multi-cultural memories and emotions
relating to her surrounding environment in this cosmopolitan city. She expresses and synthesizes
these ‘Eastern and Western’ elements through an innovative, semi-abstract art
form which combines Chinese calligraphy, ink and acrylic paintings on Xuan paper.
“Calligraphy Deconstructed” (書情解構) is a contemporary series that diverges from traditional
Chinese calligraphy practices; influenced by cityscape and deconstructivism. The Chinese
characters (symbols) are extracted from classical Chinese literature. Based on their pictorial
characteristics, they are deconstructed then reassembled to form the framework of abstraction
inspired by the metropolis. The employment of colors, graphics to these abstract works displays a
diversity of cultural aesthetics. Odilia uses this process of transformation as a vehicle to explore
the themes of identity, obsession, suppression and isolation in urban life.
“Music in Ink” (墨樂) is a series of visual soundscapes interposed with the artist’s memories and
sentiments which were then transformed into imaginary spaces or dreamscape. Music and urban
noises act as both backdrop and inspirations for this abstract series. Ink brush strokes as the
results of movement on paper elicit inner thoughts and emotions. Colors, symbols and
representational elements evoke cultural mood and references.
Contemporary Ink 2013: Looking Through the Crystal Ball, Hong Kong
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental
emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”
– Albert Einstein
Odilia Fu creates paintings that reflect her return after 16 years in the United States back to her
birthplace of Hong Kong. As both a Chinese-American immigrant and a Hong Kong resident born
and raised under the British rule, the questions of “Who am I?” and “Where is home?” are central
throughout her works. She explored the themes of identity and memory. The artist emphasized the
predominance of personal memories over race, origin and heritage as a foundation of identity in
the 21st century.
Odilia transformed Chinese ink painting into contemporary art by blending “Xie Yi” and splashed
ink style with American Abstract Expressionism. “Xie Yi” is an expressionistic trend of Chinese
painting which stresses on the expression of the subjects’ spirit or essence through brush strokes;
instead of depicting the appearance realistically. Ink and Xuan paper remind the artist of her
childhood days in school – a reconnection to her Chinese roots. Beyond aesthetics, these ink and
color paintings are utilized as a medium; through which the artist explores self-identity, beliefs and
values in relationship to contemporary China.
She draws inspirations from her current surrounding environment and reminiscences, including the
American landscape, the space shuttle launch as viewed from her studio, NASA images, the
disappearance of wildlife and horses in her neighborhood in Florida; rocks and plants in Chinese
gardens, images of mass media in Hong Kong and China. These representational objects act as
metaphors are intertwined with abstract elements. Together, they form into a dreamscape which
reconciles the past and the present; then extrapolates into the future. The cipher-like sequences of
‘0’s and ‘1’s are analogous to the Chinese poem or calligraphy in a traditional painting in terms of
configuration. They portray a contradictory tension of melancholy, suppression and freedom in the
digital age. The ambiguities of her paintings provoke the viewers to interpret her stories with
Art Projects: 2004 - 2010, USA
“My art encompasses history with imagination and emotions.”
Odilia's work has a diverse range of styles based on her multi-cultural background. She combines
the use of photography, painting, digital manipulation and abstraction. Japanese animations and
British pop rock were major influences during her teen years in Hong Kong. After moving to the
United States, her works are inspired by American Pop Art, Abstract Expressionism and the
glamorous world of advertising. She draws material from her own memories and relates them with
social, political events happened around her.
Traditionally, photography is regarded as a tool to document the facts. The artist started with
rephotographing or digitally altered her own old photographs to detach the original meaning and
add ambiguity to the subject matter. Painting and digital manipulation introduces surreality, fantasy
and emotions to create visual imagery. The painted or transformed work will then be photographed
repeatedly to reinforce the artist’s idealistic ‘truth’ which in turns being conveyed to her audiences.
"Let Our Flowers Bloom in Bulowville" created 2010
“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
-Declaration of Independence
This series of artworks is derived from the artist's original photographs taken
during an academic field trip to Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park in 1998.
Seeds with blood and sweat were blown onto the land of the free and the home of the brave. From
generation to generation, Americans witness their struggles, blossoms and deaths. The abstract
paintings and digital enhancement over the Bulow Plantation photographs are metaphorical
representation of America's progress in civil rights. The election of Barack Obama as the first
African American President of the United States signifies a historic victory in overcoming racial
barriers. The original photographs are transformed with the artist’s poetic imagination and the final
works are photographed again to document her wishful “truth”.
History of Bulow Plantation
“The Battle" created 2010
A series of artworks inspired by faded memory of the artist’s visit to Iwo Jima Memorial,
Washington DC, in year 2000. The sequence of images and videos of American football players
on the Internet and television evokes the notions of meanings, and memories of events happened
in the past decade in America.
The artist took photographs of football games playing on TV as armature; then utilized digital
technologies and paintings to transform the objects into her own stories. Embedded with
emotions, she contemplates social and political issues; ponders questions on the veracity of
history, the interpretation of the mass media; extrapolates into future expectations.
"The Voting Game" created 2008
The artist uses humor and satire as a vehicle to explore the 2008 presidential election and its
relationship with the voters. The artist herself is a second-time voter. She captured these
photographic images using a digital camera in front of the television screen as if she were at the
scene. The images were then digitally manipulated. Her desire was to isolate an image and freeze
the moments of wit, humanity, victory and defeat. She invited the audiences to interpret her motives
and ideas, in which their interpretations would change with the passage of time.
Her work is influenced by pop culture and mass-media. The political figures were transformed into
consumption-oriented, media-driven characters and the voters simply became consumers. These
virtual images eventually become reality and are part of our memory.
"A Decade After: Reminiscences Of A Vanishing Hometown, Loss And Desire" created
The artist was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to Los Angeles. Her impression of her
hometown is still in the era of pre-1997 under the British rule; associated with the “new changes”
she perceives from the media on the Internet. Her last visit back to Hong Kong was in 2004. The
differences in the sense of values and cultures; the change of cityscapes; the change in
demographics; the demolition of colonial landmarks. She found a disconnection with her family
and friends she grew up with. Her personal imaginary hometown and emotions was completely
buried and repressed by her visit.
This series of artworks is derived from old black/white photographs of her own. The photographs
become jumping off points for her imagination. With the utilization of digital technologies, she
transforms emotions and memories into abstract contemporary works. From there, she expresses
longing, sadness and loneliness for the loss of her good old days. At the same time, she reveals
hope, discontent and desire for her own imaginary brave new world. Her works ponder questions
about life, society, cultural and political issues; and provoke the viewers to interpret her stories and
O d i l i a Fu
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