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In Ink and Watercolor Illustrations, Felicia Chiao Immerses Curious Characters in Surreal Scenarios
June 22, 2023
Whether floating in pools of rainwater in the center of chrysanthemums or navigating the chaos of a fish tank, the characters in Felicia Chiao’s drawings encounter surreal circumstances that tap into complex emotions. Her illustrations (previously) follow the experiences and interactions of solemn figures who search for the sun, become immersed in blossoms, and appear both curious about and overwhelmed by the huge world around them.
Chiao incorporates anthropomorphized elements of nature to represent moods, like in “Try,” which contrasts the cheerful, sunny top level of an apartment with a dim, melancholy lower level that gets little light. In “Bloat,” a dark, inner monster—a recurring specter—is dispelled by the shining sun. Peering past giant flower petals or surrounded by prying eyes, her figures express universal feelings of awe, anxiety, uncertainty, and joy.
Long using Copic markers for her drawings, Chiao recently switched to watercolor for gallery works, maintaining a similar style of washed hues while achieving better archival quality. She continues to use the markers for personal work, sharing with Colossal, “The new medium, however, has enabled me to push the boundaries of scale and color application.” Some of these pieces are part of New Normal, the artist’s solo exhibition at Giant Robot in Los Angeles that continues through June 28 and showcases her new watercolors.
In October, Chiao will be part of a group exhibition presented by Hi-Fructose Magazine at Arch Enemy Arts in Philadephia, and she’s looking forward to another solo show next year in New York City with Harman Projects. Follow updates on Instagram and Patreon, and find prints on Society6.
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