#acrylic painting #hands #Malisa Suchanya #painting #portraits

Expressive Hands Capture Portraits of Relationships and Cultural Heritage in Malisa Suchanya’s Acrylic Paintings

May 5, 2023

Kate Mothes

An acrylic painting of hands.

“Felicia.” All images © Malisa Suchanya, shared with permission

In vivid pinks, reds, greens, and blues, Oakland-based artist Malisa Suchanya renders the expressive contours of hands immersed in florals and ornamental motifs. Interested in painting the human figure, she started to focus on the appendages specifically during the pandemic, sharing that she “found a deep love and satisfaction in trying to convey emotion and reflect relationships all through the different arrangements, compositions, and entanglement.” She then participated in Var Gallery’s ongoing 30 x 30 x 30  project, which invites artists to make 30 artworks in 30 days every January, spurring creativity at the start of the new year.

I know very well that it’s projects like these that harbor an amazing environment for growth, and that was exactly what it was for me,” Suchanya says. Required to complete a painting per day, she spent about five hours on each work, plus an hour or two to prepare the next one. “Over the course of the month, I did find that my technique of painting changed quite a bit. It became a bit more time efficient and I was layering my colors with more confidence and ease… and it became close to meditative.”

Suchanya organized three sub-series within the collection, including portraits of hands belonging people who have have deeply impacted her throughout her life, reflections on being with others, and her cultural identity and upbringing in Singapore. Hands blossom from floral arrangements in the portraits series and are titled with individuals’ names, while limbs that twist and float on a black background comprise a set exploring the nuances of relationships. And looking to her Chinese, Indonesian, and Thai heritage, she included examples of colorful, traditional masks framed by hands. 

Throughout the year, Suchanya participates in markets and artist fairs around the country, including San Jose Made, which you can find updates about on her website and Instagram. She will also have a solo exhibition at Mom and Pop Art Shop in Point Richmond, California, later this year, and 30 x 30 x 30 continues at Var Gallery in Milwaukee through June 4.


An acrylic painting of hands.

“I bend for you”

Acrylic paintings of hands.

Left: “May.” Right: “Red demon mask”

Acrylic paintings of hands.

Installation view, image courtesy of Var Gallery

An acrylic painting of hands and a mask.

“Black kitsune”

Acrylic paintings of hands and a mask.

Left: “Thai mask.” Right: “I lean on you”

An acrylic painting of hands and flowers.


An acrylic painting of hands.

“We don’t see eye to eye”

An acrylic painting of hands and a Chinese opera mask.

“Chinese opera mask”

An acrylic painting of a hand and flowers.


An acrylic painting of hands.

“We’re gonna be okie”

#acrylic painting #hands #Malisa Suchanya #painting #portraits


Do stories and artists like this matter to you? Become a Colossal Member today and support independent arts publishing for as little as $5 per month. You'll connect with a community of like-minded readers who are passionate about contemporary art, read articles and newsletters ad-free, sustain our interview series, get discounts and early access to our limited-edition print releases, and much more. Join now!



Also on Colossal

Related posts on Colossal about acrylic painting hands Malisa Suchanya painting portraits