Abstract glimpse of a nomadic life
Wandering from place to place like a nomad and not having a place to call home is a familiar theme in our
increasingly mobile society. Mediha Ting’s nomadic life was a result of her family having to move from one country to another because of her father’s job. The thrill of moving to a new land is often dampened by the loss of friends and familiar places. Constantly adapting to new environments can lead to fleeting relationships and disjointed experiences.
As a way to capture her experiences as global wanderer and collect the fragments of her life as in a scrapbook, Ting engraves these memories with dramatic mixed media works on canvas. With these paintings she offers a “permanent” visual record of her existence. Some of these are now on show at Asia Fine Art in “Modern Nomad”, a solo exhibition featuring 15 of Ting’s bold abstract paintings demarcated by older works and more recent ones. The former convey a sense of claustrophobia and intensity. They seem oppressive, as if her spirit is deep within a cocoon, confined and wanting to break free. The surfaces
are visibly thick and heavy with paint, pigment and “stuff”. One Rose, a canvas from 2003, is weighted with objects that Ting collected and collaged into multiple layers of emotive abstract colours and ethereal spaces. The artist explains that her older works are steeped in emotion – reflective of her life at that time. The works show a need for connection. Freely constructed, they incorporate collections of objects with personal significance for Ting – magazine cutouts, newspaper cuttings, shells from a trip to the beach, letters from friends far away. “My concepts were very loose. I let my instincts and my subconscious carry out the creation,” she says.
More recent paintings are quite different in context. They exude the freedom of the spirit within the older
paintings, breaking free from its chrysalis. In these, Ting draws on her memories of images and subjects past and present to create dream-like atmospheric pictures. The paintings feature multiple layers of images, with figures and forms recognisable as those found in the real world. Fluorescent Green from
2007 reveals multiple planes created with weightless washes of colour. With the new works, Ting
displays confidence and an acceptance of things that have passed. “I am more theoretical now. I have a concept of what I want to say. I apply transparent acrylic layers and incorporate photo-references and personal images, childhood memories – such as this cartoon character – to create fragmented images from my own background.” Born in Belgium and raised in Hong Kong, Britain and the US, the thirtysomething Ting is now based in London. Her works have been featured in group exhibitions. “Mediha has developed a following,” says Sidney Cowell, of Asia Fine Art. “To be a successful artist, you must use good materials
and paint very well. Mediha is hitting that soft point, and this is a sign that she is going to make it.”
Although these works are visual albums of her life, Ting is well aware that her paintings can speak to those who may have had similar experiences to her own. “I wanted communication [with the viewer] rather than just telling people what to see and how to feel. I want them to have their own association with the paintings.” With her most recent paintings such as The Edge of Realities (2008), Ting uses multi-panels to show that she is in control of the images. She can display them as a single panel or combine them together in a series to create larger dynamic images. A lone painting provides a singular narrative. Combined, these form part of an expansive panoramic tale. “The pieces can move, are interchangeable and can connect. I wanted to foster the idea that these fragments can be put together. It is a metaphor of my life,” says Ting. She took general art classes as a child in Hong Kong, learned about conceptual arts in Britain, then studied technique, colour and composition in California. Ting says that her nomadic life and exposure to different cultures has given her the opportunity to foster her creative abilities.