CiCi Suen's beautiful, textured drawings explore the hidden universe of nature

London-based artist CiCi Suen has turned her attention to the secret forms and complex structures that can only be found in nature in her beautiful series of charcoal and pastel drawings.

Picked out with striking line work and hazy shading, CiCi Suen's stunning nature illustrations purposefully occupy a rather dreamlike world with no story or set theme to anchor them. And by leaving viewers without context, she invites people to engage with these scenic artworks on their own terms and create their own interpretations.

This series of artworks represents something of a change of pace for CiCi, who has been drawing ever since she was little and would spend hours sitting in front of a table, unable to stop herself from scribbling. Considering herself lucky to have discovered her passion in life from an early age, she would go on to study at Camberwell College of Arts.

"During my Master's program, I developed my unique illustration style, and now I have transitioned to fine art," she tells Creative Boom. "Reflecting on my artistic journey, my initial motivation has always been fuelled by passion. I have an innate impulsion and truly enjoy the creative process."

In terms of her new style, CiCi's approach is partly inspired by the "incredibly powerful" work of Italian graphic novelist Lorenzo Mattotti. "I can perceive life and death through his strong lines and colours," she explains. "The way he tells stories through his graphic novels is simply astonishing and ignited my passion for creating graphic novel comics."

The influence of artists such as Paul Gauguin, Pierre Bonnard, Francis Bacon, Paula Rego, Peter Doig, and Arshile Gorky on CiCi's art cannot be overlooked either. "Every time I explore their works, I discover something new," she adds. "The layers of paint, the imagination, the spirit in the work, they just consistently impact on me, regardless of how familiar I am with their art."

As for why she moved away from illustration to fine art, CiCi says that it was something that just happened naturally rather than being planned out in advance. "It is not for me to decide or control it; I believe my art is leading me to new directions and stages," she explains.

"My illustration style has been constantly changing over time. Now, I find myself exploring new techniques and experimenting with different materials, indicating that I am ready to embrace the next stage of my artistic development."

However, this doesn't mean to say she regrets her previous work. "During my illustration and graphic novel phase, I thoroughly enjoyed the process," she says. "However, as time passed, I needed to delve deeper and create something more profound."

She adds: "The subjects, styles, and sizes I was working with no longer satisfied me, leading me to realise that fine art was the right path for me. Throughout this journey, my love for drawing has remained unwavering, regardless of the subject."

Having realised that her art was veering in a different direction, CiCi followed her gut and turned her talents to drawing the secrets within the world around us. "I have discovered another universe in nature," she says. "I'm fascinated by the beauty, complexity and chaotic structures of naturally harmonious forms."

Detailing everything from seemingly inconspicuous clumps of weeds to gnarled trunks and branches, CiCi's drawings are fascinated with the "twisted forms and language" of the natural world. The mystery and uncertainty of these forms and their intersections between reality and imagination are particularly interesting to her. "They appear chaotic, yet have an internal logic and infinite harmony of beauty."

Adding to the appeal of CiCI's artworks is her use of materials. Drawn with analogue materials, each finished piece has a textural quality that lends itself well to images of nature's intricate forms. "I really like the texture of charcoal and soft pastels," she says. "I am particularly attracted to drawing lines, and charcoal is perfect for satisfying this obsession.

"Additionally, the joy I experience during the creation process is immense when the colours of soft pastels blend harmoniously. Even if the dust is very toxic."

And just as nature exists in a state of chaotic, harmonious beauty, CiCi claims that these drawings exist for a similar reason. They have no story, no particular time or place. They are there purely because they are. "Artists have various goals when creating their art," she concludes. "Some aim to communicate with their audience, while others tell stories or express deep metaphors through their work.

"I don't have a specific message to convey, so I don't have expectations from the audience. My art naturally grows and extends from my body or spirit. I am curious about what people can see in them, so I leave it open to interpretation. Maybe people can find their own meaning and beauty in my drawings."


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