All posts by Tan Xiang Rei

Hi, I'm a first year ADM student

Strange Encounters: Alice in Wonderland

So, when I first got the project brief, my first thought went to “Alice in Wonderland” by C.S. Lewis. Alice in Wonderland has been appropriated many times by the mass media of such includes:

Alice in the wonderland animation by Walt Disney
Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland

For this project, I will be exploring 4 of my favourite Characters, The Chesire Cat, The Queen, The White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter.

  The Cheshire Cat 

Inspirations:

Both Disney and Burton portrayed the Cheshire cat similarly. Both were a cryptic and mysterious cat, who pointed Alice in the right direction when in need. Both Stylised the character with a cheeky wide smile which disappears from time to time.

Cheshire cat from Disney Animated version
Cheshire Cat from Tim Burton film

While in Disney and Burton film the cats are portrayed with cuteness, in the video game, the Cheshire cat is portrayed with a more sinister vibe. It has protruding bones, angular body structure, with multiple tribal signs over his body.

Cheshire Cat from Alice Madness Returns

 

My Character:

To make my character unique, I decided to take the most distinctive traits of each character and appropriate it into the everyday Singaporeans. For the Cheshire cat, I decided to focus on his cheeky personality. The Chesire cat reminds me of that one particular prankster we all had in class. I decided to use a black cat as my base. I chose the colour black specifically because they are commonly associated as a familiar of a witch. Hence bring on the connotation of it being magical and unordinary. I also decided to give it a fox head to depict his sly and cheeky nature. As the Cheshire cat always gives advice out in a cryptic riddle, the advice can go both ways either good or bad depending on the reader interpretation. Hence I decided to give him a snake for his tail to symbolise that the Chesire cat may not always be good and may backstab you sometimes. As a homage to the Cheshire cat’s ability to turn invisible, I erased half of my character’s body.

my take on the Cheshire Cat

However, the character did not fit in with my other three characters so I decided to scrape him away.

The Queen of Hearts

Inspirations

Both Disney and Burton Strongly used the motif of a heart in their films. The Queen of Hearts is often seen as a hard headed woman, dictating her soldiers and issuing out ridiculous orders. In Burton’s rendition, the motive of the heart can be seen clearly in the form of her hair and the red lip stick. I love the way Burton manipulated the proportions of this character. The Queen of Hearts is given a rather large head and a tiny body. This further emphasises the irrational quality of the Queen of Hearts.

Queen of Hearts in Disney animation
Queen of Hearts in Tim Burtons film

 

My Character 

Similarly, I envision The Queen’s personality fitting a dictator, a judge, a prosecutor the best. Her stubborn persona reminded me of a prosecutor who is bounded by countless laws. I decided to use a white cat as a base, as they have a very pristine and regal look. especially the picture that I have chosen, the cat glances away from the viewers as if their presence isn’t worth her attention. So as to emphasize her royalty, I decided to place her on a plush velvet cushion. however, I couldn’t find one online that is in the right perspective hence I decided to use a fondant cake decoration instead. Secondly, as the Queen favourite line is: ” Off with her head!” I decided to “behead” the cat. In addition, this solidifies my point of the bureaucracy being headless as money, bribery is able to influence a case in someone’s favour.  I also gave the cat a judges wig to symbolise her position as a prosecutor.

My take on the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland

 

 

Other Considerations

I wanted to replace the head of the cat with famous dictators such as Hitler, Chairman Mao and Kim Jong Un, however, I couldn’t find pictures of these leaders in a correct angle and I was afraid it was “politically incorrect”.

My Attempt to synthesize famous dictators into the face of a cat

 

The Mad Hatter

My inspirations

“As Mad as a hatter!” was a phrase popularised by the infamous mad hatter. Both Disney and Burton portrayed the character as an eccentric man, with terrible temper and mood swings. The mad hatter absolutely loves his tea and has a great taste in hats. in the Disney animation, the quirky characters of the Hatter were brought out by his actions and his fluffy hair style. whereas in Burtons film they used makeup to emphasize his eccentric behaviour. counter that is done in pink, unnaturally bright and fluffy hair and eyebrows are just a few.

Disney take on the Mad Hatter
Burton’s take on Mad Hatter

My Character 

instead of focusing on the personality of the Hatter, I decided to focus on what the Hatter likes: Fashion, hats and tea. Hence the idea of tea party became my main motive of this piece. Then I thought, who in Singapore has the time to enjoy all these frivolous activities? Rich Tai Tai. Hence the base personality of this character is rich ladies. I choose to use an image of a bunny as the base character as a homage to the Hatter’s dear and equally mad friend: the March Hare. Using the motif of a tea party, I replaced the head of the rabbit with a fine china teapot and gave her a skirt of a cupcake liner. I then, added more jewellery to the character to further emphasize her standing as a rich lady ( pearl necklace, red LV bag and the ebony earrings)

My Take on the Mad Hatter from Alice in the Wonderland

 

The White Rabbit

My inspiration

The White Rabbit, the main culprit that brought Alice down the rabbit hole. In the Disney film, the White Rabbit is portrayed as a two face character, that alternates back and forth a pompous behaviour toward his underlings and a sickening grovelling behaviour towards his superiors. However, in Burton’s film, the white rabbit is portrayed as a skittish character, who works undercover against the Queen of Hearts to assist Alice in his adventures. Both films used a common motive of a clock. The White Rabbit is often seen fervently checking his pocket watch and lamenting about the lack of time. A popular quote by the White rabbit is: ” I am late, I am Late! for a very important date, no time to say hello, no time to say goodbye. I am late, I am late!”

Disney rendition of the White Rabbit
Burton’s rendition of the White Rabbit

My Character

I felt that the personality of a disgruntled office worker is exactly the same as the White Rabbit. Both are equally pressed for time, rushing datelines and adding extra hours. I also like how both the White Rabbit two face personality fits in perfectly with a disgruntled worker: boot licking and complimenting their supervisors and abusing the poor intern. I decided to use a mouse with both hands up to show how skittish and easily swayed this character is. I gave him a pocket watch as his face to show how to obsess he is with time. I gave the mouse a tie and a black brief case to solidify his role as an office worker.

My take on the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Line Is Emo: Artist references

Fiona Rae, Black and white series

Fiona Rae incorporates marking in her body of work, using both accidental and intentional strokes. Fiona Rae works by hanging her work on the wall and begins splattering, smearing, dripping, painting, throwing paint, on her canvas. To Fiona Rae, Anything and anything can be used as her tools for mark making. she once exhibited her used palate as a work. The whips and strokes of black and on the gray gave it a very fluid, dream like, feeling. I love the way she incorporated both the dry brush strokes and the wet, blending in this work. it makes the strong bold lines pop out, giving it depth. This piece will be my main inspiration for the emotions of at peace/ calm. I will be trying to accomplish this effect through using  Delcomania as a base and adding more details such as brush strokes.

Shin Kwang Ho, Untitled, charcoal on canvas

Shin Kwang Ho is a contemporary Korean artist that mainly work with impasto and oil paint. I love his treatment of the charcoal. The strong bold stroke of the charcoal is strongly contrasted by the light wash of the charcoal. The intensity of the darkness in the middle followed by a haunting sweep of the charcoal gives it a ghostly and a feeling of anguish and sadness.  I will be using this imagery as the inspiration for the emotion of sadness. To me, sadness is an empty feeling, as if there is a void, an absence.

Affandi, Self Portrait, 1975, oil on canvas

Affandi is an Indonesian contemporary painter.  Affandi painted by directly squeezing the paint out of its tube, this results in the object appearing more alive. He also painted used his own hands, instead of a paint brush leaving behind the raw and flurried emotions in his paintings.

 

 

My Strange Encounter: Inspirations

Jacques Villeglé, Boulevard Haussmann, March 15, 1988, Paintings, Decollage mounted on canvas

This art work is done by Jacques Villeglé, a French artist, best known for his torn collaged works. Jacques would paste multiple layers of posters and advertisments he has collected from the streets onto his canvas, before tearing away the layers to reveal a decollage artwork. In this artwork the torn posters reveals a man face in the middle. The deep set gaze of the man captures the viewer’s attention in a glance. Furthermore, the textured surface of the collage almost allows us to sense the artist feeling and thoughts as he completes this work. Jacques destabilizes our perception through the quick and abrupt changes in the imagery. This bombard of imagery and information, leaves the viewer questioning the source and the intention of the poster.

Gregory Euclide 3-Dimensional Collage

This artwork is by Gregory Euclide, an American contemporary artist, who draws inspiration from the rich and diverse wildlife around him. Euclide contrast the organic form of nature with the harsh and geomatic shapes of the   triangular structures. Euclide distorts our perception of depth as he intwines the two-dimensional paintings with his three-dimensional relief paintings.  His adept use of chiaroscuro further solidify the illusion of realism in the paintings as seen in the trees.