Artist Questionnaire with Barbarian Flower

Part of Retrospective: Wong Kar Wai

Simple Love (2021) by Tan Sze Yan (Barbarian Flower)
The original work is available for viewing and purchase at Oldham Theatre until 4 April 2021. Limited edition risograph prints signed and numbered by the artist and postcard prints are also available for purchase while stocks last.
  1. How would you describe your style?

Nostalgic, delicate and colourful

  1. Why did you choose the creative path?

I do not think I could have done anything better than this.

  1. Who are your creative heroes?

I do not have a specific one, but everything that appeals to me must be unique.

  1. Where do you find inspiration from? (Dreams? Films? Your environment?)

I have tried to paint from dreams, but they are usually nightmares, and some of my works are inspired by my own feelings. Sometimes, you do not need too much inspiration, just paint what you find beautiful, that is enough.

  1. Do you have a specific medium you like to work in? Does this also inspire or drive the works you create?

I especially like hand drawing, I am driven by others, and I hope I can get recognition for it.

  1. What are some of the features that draw you to this film?

It is a story that is very true to life, and also a very simple love, but it shows how hard it can be to manage love.

  1. What was the inspiration behind your artwork?

I especially like the waterfall light which represented a place they agreed to go together. Simple things become especially meaningful when you do them with another person you like. The objects next to it all represent their daily life together.

  1. Any advice for budding artists out there?

Just do what direction you like best. Keep moving forward and you will start to see the light.

Artwork Information

Title: Simple Love (2021)
Film: Happy Together (1997)
Description: Simple Love is a reimagination of the several intimate scenes that took place in Yiu-Fai’s room by way of a readaptation of the objects found in the room into a still-life setting.

These objects are taken as visual anecdotes of Po-Wing and Yiu-Fai’s romance. As seen in the centre of the still life set, the waterfall lamp is a symbolism of their love and relationship goals: one of which was to visit the waterfall together. The eggs are a representation of domestication, while the liquor and cigarettes are a symbolism of escape.

Even with love and passion running so deep within the two protagonists, the work speaks to how things can go awry in a matter of time. The work also hints at the irony of how in fact distance and absence may be what creates fondness and draws people closer together, not unlike in the film where Yiu-Fai ends up moving back to Hong Kong, a place of comfort and familiarity.

The work inspires the hope that simpler times of love can be found, even in complicated realities such as with the two characters.

About the Artist

Sze Yan (Barbarian Flower) is a Malaysian illustrator and graphic designer based in Singapore. Her style is inspired by traditional and vintage art from Japan and Hong Kong. She is also inspired by her surroundings and incorporates elements of nature such as plants and flowers in her works. Her interest in still life drawing and portraits of humans are evident in her recent works. She has produced works for BollyWood Veggies, Singtel Comcentre, MUTEMUSE (Korea), Vice (Germany) and Kiblind (France).

Instagram: @barbarianflower

About the Writer