Artist Kua Chia Chi, better known as CC Kua, wants to be a mosquito. Or rather, she wants to be like a mosquito, which, in her own words, is small and impactful. And one would imagine, relentless and persistent in its goal. Even if it eludes you, you can hear it and, heaven forbid, feel it.
The 25-year-old’s first solo exhibition, Mosquito Bite, is inspired by this sentiment.
“When you get bitten by a mosquito, you feel annoyed because it itches. I think my works carry this kind of feeling,” says CC Kua.
The exhibition name, Mosquito Bite, appeals to her because it reflects an everyday sense of normalcy – at least here in Malaysia.
“Art should provoke and disturb. I used to paint a lot of kampung sceneries and underwater worlds when I was a kid in drawing class, but I was not moved by them. Now, I draw what I want. I want to create art for my era,” she adds.
CC Kua, an arts graduate from The One Academy in Petaling Jaya, majored in graphic design and illustration.
In Mosquito Bite, curated by Lostgens founding member Yeoh Lian Heng, there are 99 drawings and paintings by CC Kua currently on display at Lostgens’ Contemporary Art Space in Kuala Lumpur. They come in a variety of media: pen, pencil, ink, colour pencil, watercolour, oil, pastel – yes, everything but the kitchen sink.
“I would describe this show as raw, intuitive, honest, awkward and with a little bit of sarcasm thrown in,” says the Sungai Petani, Kedah-born artist.
“I sleep a lot, and I imagine a lot,” she adds. “I am fully awake, but I love falling into slumber.”
In the realm of dreams, she says, illogical sequences and fragments accumulate, and they form mesmerising plots.
“Being conscious doesn’t mean that you see things clearly,” she maintains. Imagination and infinite possibilities certainly looks like the order of the day in her works. In Mosquito Bite exhibition, there is a duck and goose in conversation in one of her paintings, people riding on animals, seemingly random appearances of floating plants and flowers and cutlery, right to a nonchalant philosopher leaving a forest of neurons in a cloud of blue and green in his wake.
“I want viewers to feel ‘itchy’, to get inspired, when they see my works. Many still think that art is all about beautiful paintings on the wall. This is not how it is with me,” she says.
“To me, art is a little destructive, a little elusive, a little therapeutic. It carries a touch of Zen.”
CC Kua is a fan of Andy Warhol’s pop art works, sharing his joy in blurring the line between perceived “high art” and “low art”. She admires how the 1960s industrial culture is reflected in his printscreen works.
“I also like (American artist) Jean-Michel Basquiat, (Mexican painter) Frida Kahlo, (British visual artist) David Shrigley. I enjoy reading (French philosopher) Albert Camus and (Japanese writer) Haruki Murakami. Music is a big part of what influences my work as well. I am always attracted to music from the 1960s and 70s, where many great poets, artists and musicians appeared after the hippie movement,” she says.
CC Kua explains that she always assumes the role of “the product of the era”, which to her means using herself as a medium in which information passes through and gets converted or translated into something new, such as the visuals you see in this show.
On her website, she writes that she “needs to be bored in order to build a playground in (her) mind”.
She must have been mighty bored to come up with these creations.
“We consume too much information and food nowadays, we need some emptiness to digest. Over-stimulation is the enemy of imagination!” she observes.
Calling herself an introvert by nature – although she confesses that she has a tendency to talk “too much” at times – alone time is something she cherishes.
“Being bored is just another way of breathing. I connect to myself even when there is no WiFi,” she deadpans.
Most people simply go to bed early.
Mosquito Bite is on at Lostgens’ Contemporary Art Space (8C, Jalan Panggong, Kuala Lumpur) till Aug 14. Opens 1pm-6pm (Tuesday to Sunday). Closed on Monday. Visit the Lostgens facebook page or lostgenerationspace.blogspot.my for more info.