Mojo Wang is an illustrator whose work is thought provoking, addressing deep and powerful emotions, loss, emptiness, personal emotions. Across the board, Mojo’s stark depictions of the world are intense and poingant.
Please introduce yourself. How long have you been an artist?
I’m Mojo, Mojo Wang. It has been 5 or 6 years after I started making a living as an illustrator based in Shanghai, China.
In ‘people mountain, people se’ why are the subject’s heads hollow? You’ve chosen a minimalist representation of the human figure, with a jawline, ear, throat, and clavicle, and hands, why these lines and no others? When you choose to represent people with so few features, what are you hoping to convey? How do you think, or know, viewers respond to such minimalism?
Well, first of all, emptiness and a sort of numbing emotion towards the world are what I try to talk about in those works, hollow heads or faceless figures are my ways to express such feelings, I guess. I’m a self-taught illustrator, so maybe the minimalist representation is just a result of my lacking of skills in my early days. I definitely don’t know viewers respond to such minimalism, do they?
Tell us about ‘Cavity’, there’s a great deal of vulnerability to the images. And the blurb speaks to an actual hole, when did the hole first appear? What caused it? How do these pieces represent or reflect your personal traumas? How do they help you deal with your emotions? What do you have to do to fill in the hole?
Psychology fascinates me very much, so I do believe every individual is carrying something on their back, more or less. Some certain past hunting us, or maybe the thought of future triggers our anxiety, that’s what those holes represent in those works.
My works are parts of me and also paths I walk on, to explore my own emotions and spiritual world. I face my demons like the everyone else, mentioning my trivial past is only insulting to those who are suffering enormous pain.
Where did Between Rivers come from? In one of your Instagram posts of the series you say “It’s not your understanding, not even appreciation, that I’m seeking for. Every inch of brushing is just my invitation for singing along.” How does this sentence speak to the greater meaning of the series? What did the series mean to you personally and why was it important for you to say that, as if you were unburdening yourself to all the world, of the idea that you might be influenced by other’s opinions?
Between Rivers is an experimental attempt I defined as graphic poetry. It came from an epiphany after one creative block which lasted a year. I guess I’m just unburdening me from myself, rather than the world. That post does not necessarily mean anything… I mean, that’s my personal Instagram account, I post whatever jumped into my mind, and please do believe that all kinds of things jumped into my mind.
Where do you go for inspiration? What does your personal work mean for you, is it an escape? An opportunity to address your own emotion universe?
Books, music, movie, life.
As what I’ve said before, my personal works are parts of me and paths I walk on. I would not say my works are escapes to me, but the process of doing them offers me serenity and the right amount of distance to those around me.
In ‘Early Winter’ you say the subject is both angry and sad, and that he is trying to escape something that has hunted him a long time. Why those two emotions? What has hunted the man? Was this piece inspired by your own life? Or an experience you had? How important is the response of your viewer to you? If it doesn’t matter, then why bother putting your art up, for others to see?
Yes, it is about some part of me as a reflection of the world. And, I do not know why I were angry and sad at that time, we are what we are. (I’m really not good at analyzing myself.)
I guess this is a very good question, I would not say that my viewer’s response to my works does not matter, that’s hurtful and disrespectful to others. But I’m not doing what I’m doing for others, if that’s what you are wondering. I’m putting my works out there (social media) to seek potential projects and work opportunities, to be frank.
What was the last piece you did? What was the first piece you did in 2015? How are these two pieces similar? Aesthetically? Emotionally? What are you working on at the moment?
My last piece would be an ongoing visual essay project and my first piece in 2015 was one of Between Rivers. The similarity is that they are both stories rather than a single image. I’m working on a visual essay project. Hopefully, story telling will be a big part of my works in near future.