Kristycharay

A solo exhibition by Kristycharay opens on May 4 at ESLITE GALLERY, from small sketches of still lifes to large paintings of portraits, Kristycharay wields acrylic paints and charcoal pen to depict her observations of the people and objects around her.  Kristycharay laid the foundation for her painting skills during her high school years in New York. Even though she is now a woman of many hats, she still finds painting therapeutic. In more recent years, she has been focusing more on portraiture, noting that “There aren’t many oriental artists painting portraits of oriental figures, so I thought someone should do it as a record of people in my time!”

  • Exhibition Period:4 May – 28 May 2022
  • Address:ESLITE GALLERY ∣ B1, No. 88, Yanchang Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei City 110055, Taiwan

Born in Taipei in 1965, Kristycharay is currently an associate professor at Shih Chien University’s Department of Communications Design. In 1981, she went to high school in New York. Her sketch depicting a “vacuum cleaner” won the sketch champion in New York State’s High School Division. Her teacher believed she was talented, and she proved that by receiving the highest grade in the sketch group of the AP Drawing exam with an exceptional colorful abstract painting. Later, Kristycharay received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Cooper Union (1988) and a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University (1990). After returning to Taiwan in 1997, she has since been a university professor, a writer, an artist and a curator.

In 2019, Kristycharay held a solo exhibition Nice to Meet You at eslite spectrum Suzhou. Presenting more than 100 paintings created over the past 30 years, plus a gigantic toy blanket sewn with 3,000 dolls and plushies, the exhibition received widespread attention. For this current exhibition at ESLITE GALLERY, she is turning her attention to real people. Maxx, featuring her then 3.5-year-old nephew, is the first painting in this series, where a hint of precociousness seeps out underneath the innocent toddler face. Then, she painted Mother, in which her 80-year-old mother who just came out of surgery is the main character wearing a shirt, a gift from Kristycharay’s father, with blooming flowers in stark contrast to her feeble figure. In Lisa, she painted her sister cozily nested in a pile of blankets looking at her cell phone or taking selfies. “She is already 50 yet she lives like a high school girl. You can’t tell she’s been through quite some ups and downs. I wish I could be as at ease and optimistic as she is.”

Convenience Store Manager, Mr. Triangle and Kestinee respectively feature a convenience store manager, her friends, and her student as the protagonists. Kristycharay, a keen observer of people, doesn’t just blindly pursue the external realism of portraits, but instead conveys the spirit and state of mind of the protagonists by carefully detailing the nook and cranny of their body and clothing, as she “brings out the most unusual look of ordinary people.” The skin tone on the protagonists’ faces is also composed of a myriad of colors. “The light on the human face is always changing, so I can’t give it one absolute color. I like this uncertainty and fluidity, because it’s like capturing a moment in life.” The inspiration actually came from a trip abroad with her mother a few years ago, when she accidentally saw the sunlight bouncing off her face from her cell phone camera. “It was beautiful. That bright yellowy orange light has then been imprinted in my brain. When I am painting people, I am probably searching for that light on their faces.”

Kristycharay’s portraits are all 150×110 cm in dimension. She believes it is the most comfortable size for viewing and also the easiest way to connect with the characters in the paintings, making them people who are relatable or simply ordinary people around us. The two self-portraits on display include a cathartic painting of her expressionless self and another of herself in underwear and paint-stained lounge pants. For Kristycharay, self-portraits are “like ‘phases’, where you have to look back at yourself and adjust your state before emerging again.”

“I used to think painting is this grand sacred thing, and I had big stories and big pictures in my mind. But now that I have come to understand more things, painting has become an ordinary part of my everyday life.” Nonetheless, Kristycharay also admitted, “Every paining is a struggle. The unknown carries me forward. I can’t let the paintings get too excited like me. They have to be calm.”

Born in Taipei in 1965, Kristycharay is currently an associate professor at Shih Chien University’s Department of Communications Design. In 1981, she went to high school in New York. Her sketch depicting a “vacuum cleaner” won the sketch champion in New York State’s High School Division. Her teacher believed she was talented, and she proved that by receiving the highest grade in the sketch group of the AP Drawing exam with an exceptional colorful abstract painting. Later, Kristycharay received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Cooper Union (1988) and a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University (1990). After returning to Taiwan in 1997, she has since been a university professor, a writer, an artist and a curator.