with Malisa Suchanya
Expressive Hands Capture Portraits of Relationships and Cultural Heritage in Malisa Suchanya’s Acrylic Paintings
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.
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Highlights below. For the full collection click here.