“Crabs.” That is the answer Wu Yanrong gives when asked what her favourite crustacean is. Her reason is simple: “They’re cute and delicious.” The 26-year-old illustrator has become a pro when it comes to the subject, partly because how she has turned sea creatures, in particular crabs, lobsters, prawns and the ilk, somewhat of a perennial in her works. Her latest project, and first solo exhibition, at curatorial space K+ at Scotts Square will drive home that point.
Called Marine Fantastic: An Illustrated Introduction To Crustaceans, the exhibition runs from now till Dec 17 and features Wu’s vivid interpretation of over 15 types of shellfish in poster paint. All are done in her distinctive aesthetic: calligraphy-style brush strokes (she’s inspired by the Oriental arts) and that pretty Matisse colours.
But the experience here goes beyond the artistic. “When I discovered that we have only explored less than five per cent of the sea, it awakened my curiosity and I ended up making a book about it for a school project,” says the RMIT University alum. “Since then, I have been researching and painting these amazing organisms that live in our oceans.”
Cue some of the unusual inhabitants of the exhibition: watermelon crab, Donald Duck shrimp, Harry Potter crab and Pistol shrimp. Visitors could learn more about each of them through the bio that Wu has. Take for instance the Thor amboinensis, a.k.a the Sexy Shrimp. This small sea creature grows to a length of about 13 millimetres and gets its moniker from the abdomen-wriggling dance-like movements that are considered provocative.
Wu, who works as a graphic designer by day also has her own quirks: She’s a night owl when it comes to creating her masterpieces because that’s when the momentum really builds up for her creative juices. “Midnight is my favourite time to paint because there’s a good tempo especially if I work overtime. The longest that I’ve stayed up till is probably 3am or 4 am,” she says. Here we got up close and personal with the artist.
The Female Questionnaire
My full name is… Wu Yanrong.
My nickname is… Yan.
If I’m not an artist, I’d be a… marine biologist or zoologist.
One word to describe my work is… freeform.
My artistic hero is… Masaaki Yuasa, the anime film and TV director.
One song that always gets me in the mood when I’m working is… Bawling by Primary and Oh Hyuk.
I’m inspired by… shapes, forms, nature, freedom.
The best crab dish is… chilli or salted egg crab.
My next big project would be… animated.
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