Shanlin Ye

Shanlin Ye


MFA, Tsinghua University Academy of Fine Arts. Beijing. 2001

BFA,  Central Academy of Fine Arts and Design. Beijing. 1998


2006-present: US and China-based artist

2001-2006: Lecturer, Beijing Institute of Fashion Design



I was born and raised in China and trained as a classical visual artist in Beijing. Living in the US I found instant cyber-connectivity but loneliness in daily life.

To try to find a way out, I began to create portraits and figures of the selfies of total strangers I found on Instagram. I began working with watercolor on paper and became mesmerized by water’s ungoverned and improvisational effects. More recently, I have returned to working with oil and acrylic on canvas and seeking ways to integrate traditional Chinese ink painting on paper and silk.

I take Instagram selfies as my inspiration – perhaps a Canadian youth documenting a gender change or a European fashion diva at her photo shoot – and attempt to interpret what I feel are below the surface, the unconsciously communicated parts of our shared humanity.

My work is not about realism or perfection; rather, I have chosen to address the opposite: the coarse, imperfect and aberrant. I hope viewers, too, can find a way to communicate with the work and find some part of themselves that resonates: desire, vulnerability, toughness, rebellion, letting go or acceptance.