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Introduction to Christina Kwan

Reflections from Gasher's Art Editor, Sydney Ewerth

Photo credit Sawyer Baird

Christina Kwan is a painter and muralist living in Atlanta, GA currently making abstract compositions that reflect the internal duality of self. Through her work, she explores her Asian-American identity and the space in which she exists. Her fluidity and action in her brush strokes are light and elemental. Below the surface, that struggle of self is revealed through compositions that leave room for presence in between. The feeling of being incomplete resides through multiple planes in the work, and is captured by a haunting yet beautifully asymmetrical composition of form and mark.

Christina is originally from Winter Park, FL, and moved to Atlanta, GA in 2010 after graduating from the University of Florida with a BFA in Drawing. When she moved to Atlanta, she didn’t initially set out to be a muralist. However, she has quickly become a popular staple in the Atlanta art scene, and quite literally a household name through countless murals she has created specific to private homes. Her work can be seen in many different architectural spaces. The walls of a space with corners, stairs, specific lighting, or any other physical protrusion can create a tricky blank canvas. Christina is able to dance around these spaces, giving freedom for her paintings to run. Her process is an active one that shows the liveliness of her playful frenetic mark making.

Under the perceptive selection of color and sincere marks, lies a struggle of identity, culture, and inhabiting multiple spaces. Christina holds a connection to calligraphy through her heritage. The calligraphic strokes reference natural landscapes or imagined dreamscapes in which the levels of East Asian heritage and Western-born identity conflict and float. There is an energy in the marks of calligraphy through the character of the word being made. While she does not come from a calligraphy background, she is drawn to it because each mark holds a mystery tied to her lineage. Through her hand, she is celebrating the aesthetic sensibilities of her ancestors and attempting to preserve a filial connection that is possibly lost forever. Her process gives way to muscle memory, keeping the spirit and purpose of her lived experience intact. As each piece is completed, she creates another link to a map that represents a psychological journey of a fully realized sense of self.

There is a delicate balance dictated by deliberate and atmospheric tension specific to Christina’s hand and body. Christina’s brush stroke has the lightness of spontaneity, but her innate decision making and resolution in line could not be replicated. There is a feeling of ease in her work that exudes a sense of knowing her material as an extension of her own body in action. The ability to compose with seemingly disparate parts that come together to create a harmonious piece reflects a level of skill and trust in her process. Her work moves as a meandering river does. Water moving through the path it is given, leaving sediment on the outer bend. There are moments in the strokes where the paint and color collect to one area, creating an opportunity for chance. Christina builds up the layers, thriving on chance and decision. She performs the gestural stroke that resides in her bones, and the nebulous suspended symphony takes form.

View Kwan's work here

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