“I love the process of both the artist and the viewer using their imagination to experience life in a different dimension which expands their real-life experience to another level. That’s magic!”
Min Ray is an emerging visual artist based in the Western District of Victoria, Australia. Min found her own creative voice in creating visual stories through abstraction and the power of colours. This also becomes her way of validating her own unique presence in the world.
With her signature painting style - hard-edge geometric abstraction, Min aims to share stories through bold colours, geometric shapes, architectural forms and patterns. In particular, her work is informed by art movements in the early to mid-20th centuries, such as Bauhaus, Color Field, Op Art and Minimalism. These movements inspired Min’s abstract eye - which she uses to transform objects, landscapes, emotions and thoughts into lines, shapes, forms and colours.
The themes that Min touches upon surround the idea of experiences and memories. Her interest lies in the abstract representation of the interior and exterior sites as well as the subjective encounters and recollections of people. In her exploration of such topics, she always believes that everyone has significant memories embedded within them that associate with the five human senses. To Min, these senses eventually feedback and form one’s identity and sense of self.
Q. How did you start your artistic journey? And how did you arrive at geometric painting?
I have always been interested in art and I used to draw and paint in my spare time. Ten years ago, the first of my two children was born. Becoming a mother changed me in so many ways and it is the most rewarding experience ever. My children and I have enjoyed reading hundreds of children’s picture books together over the years. Through reading these books and admiring the wonderful illustrations, a spark ignited in me. I had a strong idea that I would like to create children’s books too. I wanted to help children learn about the world through colourful, fun ways. So, I quit my corporate job and enrolled in an art course at a Technical and Further Education (TAFE) provider, in Melbourne.
I had a great time studying visual arts and learnt from many amazing teachers. Creating illustrations was my main focus until an abstract art teacher opened another door. I instantly fell in love with the styles of abstract art. Its use of colours, different techniques or processes and the freedom of expression all attracted me. Geometric abstraction soon became my favourite style. The late Carmen Herrera, one of the greatest female artists, once said “I like straight lines, I like angles, I like order. In this chaos we live in, I like to put order. I guess that’s why I am a hard-edged painter, a geometric painter.” This statement strongly resonates with me.
Q. What is it about geometric abstraction that attracted you? And what is your approach to telling stories through them?
Abstract art is an art that doesn’t look like real life. The artist uses colours, shapes, and forms to describe a scene, feeling or story. It encourages the viewer to use their imagination, sometimes their subconscious mind to interpret the work. I love the process of both the artist and the viewer using their imagination to experience life in a different dimension which expands their real-life experience to another level. That’s magic!
Like its name, Geometric Abstraction involves geometric shapes. For me, it is about creating order through chaos using the simplest elements like dots, lines, angles and organizing them. Putting these simplest elements together can either create complicated compositions or minimalist arrangements. To me, it feels really powerful and I love to immerse myself in these techniques.
I use geometric shapes to tell stories. Sometimes, shapes can represent things in real life, such as a person, an object or a place. By arranging these shapes and letting them interact with each other, stories are told. Colours are another tool, not only do I use them to represent things found in nature, but I also let them associate with emotions and feelings.
Q. You mentioned that your work is informed by the art movements and styles in the 20th century. Could you share more elaborately how the art of these times influenced you, and how do they manifest in your work?
Bauhaus, Op Art and Minimalism all had a great influence on me.
It was through Bauhaus that I started to study colours and shapes. I had the opportunity to study the works of some of the most famous masters and lecturers like Josef Albers, Anni Albers, Johannes Itten, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and others.
Op Art is a form of geometric abstract art that explores optical sensations using visual effects. Victor Vasarely and Bridget Riley are two of my favourite artists. I often use optical illusions to explore and visualize my fascination with Space and Time, like in my ‘Time Travel’ series.
Minimalism is not only an art movement. For those of us who live in this modern world, it’s also a lifestyle. The philosophy of minimalism is timeless. By using the simplest lines, forms and colours, the complex aspects of life and one’s inhibitions are taken away, allowing the art to be viewed for what it is. This is another style that I enjoy very much, and Carmen Herrera is my favourite minimalist artist.
Q. From where do you mostly draw your inspiration? Do you also seek inspiration from other fields too?
My inspiration comes from nature, family, and friends as well as my own life experiences. I could simply be inspired by the beautiful soft colours of early spring blossoms or the latest science news and articles about Space and Time theory. Sometimes I could just feel the urge to tell a life experience story.
Q. Have you been playing with and trying out different artistic techniques in your paintings? Were there any new discoveries along the way?
It took great effort to develop my own freehand painting techniques which involve good quality flat brushes, acrylic painting mediums and of course - steady hands. I don’t use masking tape in my work, all the hard edges are painted freehand. Although it’s hard to compete with a printer which can create perfect and straightest lines, I take pride in my craftsmanship. The human instincts of dedication and improvement push my creative boundaries and take my work to new levels. I’m so happy and content with these techniques that I haven’t been experimenting with other styles.
Q. How did you come up with the different series of paintings? Did you start with one artwork first or plan out the whole series before starting?
Often, one inspiration leads to another, and one series leads to another.
Whilst the ‘Time Travel’ series focuses on creating optical sensations, the ‘Colours of Time’ series arranges colours and shapes and associates them with feelings. ‘Passion’ was composed of about 150 equilateral triangles, very simple geometric shapes. By filling each triangle with a carefully-considered colour, this piece speaks for itself. During that process, I discovered ways to make triangle combinations either flat-looking like 2D patterns or dimensional like 3D structures. This led to the ‘In Search of Light’ series, for which I used geometric abstraction to visualize the halation of light. This series provides the viewer with a new and exciting way to examine the visual appearance of the light. And the appearance is simplified by geometric forms and organised colours even though it is greatly exaggerated and far from reality.
Q. Do the artworks in the same series connect with one another and tell a story as a whole?
Yes, the artworks in the same series connect with one another and tell a story as a whole. For example, my ‘In Search of Light’ series does this. In this series, I wish to demonstrate light in its most beautiful form and its relationship with the surroundings. I invite people to look at the lights, study them, search for them and discover further. For this series, I am using equilateral triangles to structure my design and composition. It could be a striking light breaking the darkness, sunlight entering the water, flames from a bonfire dancing in the air, or simply a breath taking sunrise scene.
Q. Are there any other artistic mediums or genres you would like to try out in the future?
I don’t have any plans at the moment. I’m just focusing on improving my freehand painting techniques.
Q. Could you describe your work in 3 words?
Vibrant, meticulous, rhythmical.