Artist Statement

Warren Chiu

Warren Chiu


I believe art plays an important part in terms of history and capturing today’s surroundings. It’s interesting for me to see pieces of art from hundreds of years ago and observe how the locations as well as the people have evolved. My pieces are focused on the two cities I call home: Vancouver and New York. I enjoy capturing the contrasts between both locations through my art. My paintings explore the dynamic relationship between people and their environment. Most works feature a single subject in the foreground gazing at or interacting with their surroundings. In works without a human subject, it’s intended for the viewer to serve as the observer. My aim is to capture an ideal scene and transport the viewer to this location, providing an opportunity for escapism. I also wish to convey a sense of glamour, as defined by Virginia Postrel, through creating a transcendent sensation of projection and yearning.

I am inspired by the artist Gustave Caillebotte and his style that blends Impressionism and Realism, as well as his focus on people within an urban landscape. Edward Hopper is another artist who I highly admire and have the opportunity to view his pieces often at the Whitney Museum. I find many parallels between his life and work with my own.

Photography is certainly an important part of my creative process; I visit each depicted location and take dozens of images from various perspectives directly from my iPhone. From these photos, I select one ideal image and adjust the image with filters until I am satisfied with the overall tone. Translating the photo into a painting allows me to modify reality and achieve something beyond what the original photo is able to convey. Employing the medium of oil paints allows me to render realistic paintings of the scenes with subtle blending of shapes and color. Through my brushstrokes, I try to breathe life into each piece and convey the true emotion of the scene.

While my paintings may approach Photorealism, there is a certain looseness to them that allow for my artistic interpretation. When viewing one of my paintings in person, the precise brushstrokes that make up each part are observable and there is no question of whether or not the image is presented as an actual painting or a photographic print. With the ubiquity of mobile photography and photo apps such as Instagram and Snapchat, it may be appropriate to categorize my art as Instarealism.