Artists in their studio FAYE WEI WEI Continues her series, Emily Tobin talks to the young painter about her poetic, drea

Emily Tobin, HOUSE AND GARDEN , July 1, 2019

Faye Wei Wei's quixotic paintings are inhabited by magical, folkloric images of bells, crosses, horses, snakes, swans, sea urchins and dreamy heart-faced figures. The star of this British-Chinese artist is in hte ascendant. In 2016, on graduating from the Slade School of Fine Art, she was awarded the Cass Art Painting Prize for final-year students. Just as her works are packed with motifs, so is her studio. Faye lives in her parents' London house and has co-opted the sunniest room as her workspace. It overflows with trinkets, handwritten poetry, polaroids, soft toys, paper fans, ceramic pots and books.


There are tomes on French folk art, short stories by DH Lawrence, illustrated tracts on medieval flowers and volumes of Salvador Dali, Cy Twombly, Rubens and every artist in between. 'I'm surrounded by objects that are charged with emotional intensity things I've collected on my travels or that people have given me,' She says. This is a space alive with memory. 'When i was small, a stroyteller came to my school and I was mesmerised,' she recalls. 'He told us the tale of a princess, who strayed awake by placing a pin cushion filled with needles behind her head. Everytime she fell asleep, she's be pricked awake again.' Fables like this and the strories people tell from their own lives weave their way into Faye's work. 'Words are so visual - they can transport me in a cinematic way, recurring in my head like a dream I've had but can't forget.' 


Faye used to paint 'sprawling abstract things' ; now her works have shrunk to around 30cm square. 'You can have a different experience when you change the scale,' she says. 'Think of Chinese and Japanese paintings of the past, which were made on scrolls and rolled out on special occasions. To me, that is such a beautiful and respectful way to consider art.' To look at one of her smaller paintings is an intensely personal experience. They are a window into a mind burstint with poetry, imagery and untold stories.