The artist Zi Ling about finding her voice as an artist and her techniques

How did you find your voice as an artist?

When I found out that the strongest subject matter and style choices are dependent on what I want to say rather than on what I am good at producing. However, it is not easy to find my own voice as an artist. I am still on my way.

In your work you use a variety of media and experiment a lot – which techniques and materials do you prefer working with and which challenges you the most. And why?

I am really interested in using watercolour and collage as my method. However, using pure watercolour as media challenges me a lot. Because the very moment when brush meets paper and paint, it simultaneously produces marks. For me, it is the most organic and direct way of expressing myself. I enjoyed the simplicity and purity of the process. Watercolour is a very sensitive media. You need to balance between the controlled and the uncontrolled, making your own marks on paper and playing with the ‘accident’. It is both challenging and exciting for me.


Paul the Apostle, 2017, 76×61 cm

Has your approach and process changed throughout your artistic career?

I personally believe that as an artist, as soon as you stop changing and challenging yourself, your art is dead.

You are based in Beijing and London – how does those different cultures and artistic scenes influence you as an artist?

I observe people. I paint life. When I am in China, I always paint people in a very abstract way, but here in London, I paint people more realistic. For me, ‘abstract’ is a way of thinking, ‘realistic’ is a way of living. This is the difference I feel between my experience in Beijing and London.


The Paradise of Fools, 2016, 51×67 cm

What have been the highlights of your artistic career so far?

I am honoured to become the candidate member of Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour this year.

Which artists do you admire?

Francis Bacon

As he once said, “When I am working, I believe in the unconscious, allowing myself to freely during the process and enjoy any ‘accident’.”.


Untitled, 2016, 70×100 cm

Zi Ling on Singulart:

The website of the artist:

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