Emerging Artists In Oil Exhibition: Emma Lee

Emma Lee's Artist's Statement

I was born in Hong Kong, and I am 16 years old. When I was 12, I came to Vancouver with my family. I paint in order to connect with other people. I enjoy making people laugh with my art by giving them a chance to see what’s unusual about the world when they see it through my eyes. In particular, I like to use paint to capture all of the senses.

I started to make art when I was ten. My father introduced me to manga, which first inspired me and made me enjoy painting. My dad and I used to watch animated and fantasy movies when I was growing up. In addition to popular media, I have been inspired by my move to Vancouver. When I first came here from Hong Kong, everything was unfamiliar. My work attempts to capture many of the differences I have experienced. In my paintings you will see big landscapes, big food, and imaginative representations of long waits in dark skytrain stations. All of these things were new and strange to me.

When I came to Vancouver, I started painting in oil. Unlike marker, oil painting has texture and takes time to dry. It helps me capture the feel of this wonderful city. There are many places left for me to explore and imagine in Vancouver.

I would like to continue to study art at university and one day work as an illustrator. My next artistic projects will focus on imagining what kind of a city could be under Vancouver. 

Summer Day, Oil on Canvas

"This was my first time making food the subject of an oil painting. I decided to paint a series of two hamburgers at different times during the same day. The inspiration came from a particularly delicious burger that I ate last August. In this painting, I am trying to make the audience feel, smell, and maybe even taste the burger in their minds just by looking at my painting. I am trying to present the juiciness and shininess of the burger to make it more realistic and luxurious. I have painted the burger and fries larger than life to reflect Canadian portion sizes and magnify the textures. When you see the hamburger from my eyes, it is gigantic, taking up most of the space in my painting. I like to make people laugh with my work, and I hope that you can see my sense of humour here."

Summer Night, Oil on Canvas

"The burger in this painting is the same as the one as seen in Summer Day. To show the time difference in this piece, I made some changes to the background and the light. I have painted a halo of light around the burger to show its importance. I also changed the hamburger from a whole burger to a half-eaten burger. There are bits falling off from the burger, the sauce has squeezed out, there is less cola in the glass, and the napkins have moved. I decided to draw a night scene because my family and I stayed and chatted in the restaurant for a long time. This second large-scale burger painting amplifies the humour seen in the first."

The Unknown, Oil on Canvas 

"This painting depicts an imaginary perspective on Vancouver. Specifically, it presents Gastown as if viewed from below and an imaginary underground city beneath it. I was inspired to paint this scene by seeing the mix of 19th- and 20th-century buildings in Vancouver and noticing how the world changes over time. I used a cut-away perspective to make the underground feel gigantic. I changed the famous Steam Clock into an elevator that connects the underground to the city above. Since the elevator is the only source of natural light, the buildings near it are brighter."

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