The artist Sewing Feng from China specializes in mysterious stories and folk tales. Her works feature narrative scenes and childlike characters, creating numerous illustrations with vibrant colors and an Eastern touch. In her daily comics, Sewing touches upon the fleeting anxieties and uncertainties of life. Without uttering a word, they manage to evoke a heartfelt smile and resonate with the audience. Sewing Feng possesses highly matured skills and artistic abilities. Drawing inspiration from Japanese Ukiyo-e, she incorporates a multitude of delicate and expressive lines into her work.
These intricate lines form freely flowing vortexes, and her choice of colors, subtle yet distinctive, naturally exudes an Asian flavor. This style is intimately connected to her life experiences and background. Sewing Feng’s work has introduced a new style and expressive approach to the field of illustration. Through unique choices of subject matter and a distinctive visual language, she depicts the emotions of characters, sparking a new journey in the development of illustration. Simultaneously, she presents the often niche and mysterious folklore and Kaidan of Asia to a wider audience, bringing attention to lesser-known cultures.
Her illustrations deviate from the traditionally dark and eerie atmosphere of Kaidan, opting for bright, even warm, tones and intricate details to convey the essence of the narratives. Rather than presenting the results directly to the audience, Sewing prefers to guide them on a journey of exploration. She is accustomed to hiding various details and trivial objects within her artwork, yet you can sense the emotions concealed behind the scenes. Sewing’s pieces carry the concept of childhood, a period marked by peculiar and whimsical transformations, visually reflecting the whimsical exploration of the inner world by new life.
Her artworks typically feature chubby-faced children, but she blends elements of surrealistic aesthetics and Asian Ukiyo-e aesthetics, creating a distinctive style of her own. For example, in Sewing’s personal project “Feng Shui（geomantic omen）,” each illustration is tied to a small story or anecdote. The early geomantic omen is the metaphysic mainly used for the location selection for palaces, residences, villages and graveyards. Later geomantic omen is mixed with superstitions, but the cultural interestingness is also increased with such superstitions.
One of the stories is about a celestial being named Liao Bing who appeared in the dreams of villagers. He pointed to a wood chair with an arc-shaped backrest and clearly told people that prosperity would come if they built a pond in the same shape. As a result, people started digging semi-circular ponds in front of their villages. Even today, some villages in southern China still preserve this tradition. These stories reflect good wish of the ancients. The scene does not depict any people, only a chair and a pond. The color tones are subdued, and everything appears very quiet.
The audience can sense the mystery of that dream. In addition to water, the Chinese use bridges, towers, stone lions, and decorations on rooftops to define their relationship with the environment. Writing illuminates the chaos, and humanity breaks through ignorance, learning to record and store knowledge. As people become intelligent and lose their reverence, the once mysterious nature begins to mourn. Sewing’s project explores the relationship between humans and nature. In the past, people used nature to make predictions. Now, people trample on nature. Nature, like a delicate instrument, after being repeatedly destroyed, can no longer make accurate predictions for humanity.
This series of works were longlisted for the 2020 World Illustration Awards and received an Merit Awards in the Illustration West 59. The World Illustration Awards (WIA) is a prestigious annual competition open to illustrators worldwide. Organized by the Association of Illustrators (AOI) in the UK and the Directory of Illustration (DI) in the U.S., this award recognizes the illustrators behind the works and showcases the best pieces in the global industry. Illustration West is an annual competition and exhibition organized by the Los Angeles Society of Illustrators and the Directory of Illustration, focusing on highlighting the best illustrations from Los Angeles and around the world. This is the charm of Sewing’s art.
Unlike surreal and abstract art that completely disconnects from the real world, her paintings intervene between reality and illusion. They cast shadows of the real world yet defy interpretation with conventional thinking. Beyond realistic scenes, they evoke a sense of insecurity. The more one tries to understand them, the more mysterious they become. In comparison to purely realistic paintings, Sewing’s art employs a non-traditional narrative approach, focusing on details, objects, environments, and emotional atmospheres.
Through the rearrangement of these elements, she creates a unique visual effect and emotional resonance. Her non-narrative system breaks through the conventional limits of storytelling in painting, allowing viewers to interpret the work more freely and experience deeper emotions and meanings. Her pieces often present a metaphorical language, conveying her reflections and observations on society, humanity, and the environment through visual symbols and symbolic images. This encourages viewers to actively contemplate and feel, triggering profound reflections on reality and life.
The visual language and aesthetics presented through her artistic techniques constitute her unique creative style. This unconventional approach to visual rules and innovative experiments has made a significant contribution to the industry and cannot be ignored. Throughout Sewing Feng’s career , she has garnered numerous prestigious awards in the industry, such as Chosen Winner of American Illustration 39 and 40, the Bronze Award at JIA Illustration Award 2020, Merit Awards at 3 x 3 Illustration Show No.18 Annual, Runner-up at Creative Quarterly Annual 60, Merit Awards at IJungle 2019 Illustration Awards, among others. More specifically, Sewing earned the esteemed title of Chosen Winner twice at American Illustration 39 and 40, a recognition placed her artwork ‘Red Bridge’, ‘Golden Bridge’, ‘Love and Possession’ in the annual book.
The American Illustration Annual, curated by AI-AP (American Illustration – American Photography), is a benchmark in the world of illustration, synonymous with excellence. Acknowledged for its meticulous curation and commitment to showcasing the forefront of contemporary illustration, American Illustration has become a symbol of distinction within the industry. The Annual mirrors the ever-evolving tapestry of illustration, solidifying itself as a definitive and influential institution that sets the standard for creative brilliance.
Sewing’s creations span across illustration, animation, and comics. Her surrealistic artistic style is inspired by historical allusions, Asian aesthetics, and Eastern mythological legends. It reflects a blend of dark humor and bizarre aesthetics. Sewing’s works have been exhibited in various shows in both China and the United States, including the “Truth Tellers” exhibition at Fountain House Gallery in New York, the “Remote Landing Global Graduation Show” in Beijing, and “My Voice, My Truth” exhibition at The Art Garage in Green Bay.
Sewing Feng website: www.sewingfeng.com