Australian artist Stella Leung focuses on drawing what she likes and doesn’t get caught up in hidden meanings or metaphors; an outlook that allows her to focus on the atmosphere of the piece and bring her characters to light; abilities that have led to the exhibition her second solo show, PARANOID, at the Goodspace Gallery in Sydney last August.
How does it feel to have a second solo show under your belt? What does this mean for you in the future?
It feels great. I want to make sure that I have at least one solo show a year. I think it’s a good way to keep track of how you progress over the years while also making sure that you are always producing something new and exciting. I painted my first wall piece for ‘PARANOID’, which was a goal of mine this year so it feels good to tick that off! It’s important to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and set goals for yourself every year; whether those goals are big or small. I’m not sure what it means for my future exactly other than that I aim to get better with every show.
What was it about the concept of paranoia that led you to make it the larger theme of your exhibition?
[laughs] Honestly I chose this theme purely because I liked the word. It helps that this theme fits perfectly with the vibe I wanted to create as well. I wanted to keep it pretty broad, not making every piece about paranoia or people being paranoid. It was more about creating a gloomy atmosphere. I didn’t really plan this show much at all, rather I set myself a quantity of work I want to create and drew whatever inspired me at the time. I was looking at a lot of vintage photographs from the 1800’s, classical paintings and ‘Goosebumps’ book covers. The inspiration was pretty broad and all over the place but it seemed it all to come together pretty well.
In what ways would you say that the Riot Grrrl movement has influenced your work?
It’s influenced it a lot, even if my recent solo show didn’t really have that much of a Riot Grrrl theme at all. I don’t think I would have enjoyed drawing as much at the start if I didn’t have such subject matter to obsess over. I definitely wouldn’t have had the online following I do now if I didn’t draw inspiration from the movement. But in saying that, I really don’t want people to mistake me as a ‘feminist artist’ because I’m not one. I don’t think my work is political enough to qualify as feminist art in any way. I’m just inspired by the philosophy of Riot Grrrl, the community it created and the fashion too.
I find that even though it kind of imploded at the end due to a lack of representation of WOC, it’s still something I find extremely relatable. Some people complain about it but I think it’s admirable and amazing that it even became as big as it did. Feminism is always important no matter how imperfect it is.
Did the movement have any impact upon the pieces in your latest solo show, PARANOID?
I was just talking to a friend about this and she said that even though this show doesn’t have an obvious Riot Grrrl influence, you can still see subtle hints of feminism in every piece. But I think that’s inherent in everything I draw because it’s always been something I value deeply. For this show I was more inspired by horror films and the Pre-Raphaelites, and I’m probably happier with the work I’ve done this year than last year because I’ve gotten better technique-wise.