‘Variations on Joy’, Howard Qiu’s exhibition starting on January 12th at Vin Gallery HCMC, features a vibrant collection of artworks exploring the intersection of music, emotion, and nature. Born in Shanghai in the 1960s, Howard was very early inspired by architectural aesthetics and artists like Kandinsky and Paul Klee. He recently won ‘The Creative Show Award’ at the Shanghai International Art Fair, Art Exhibition at the International Popular Science Expo. Today his interest focuses on rhythm, melody, and harmony that he conveys in the texture, colors, and forms of his pictorial works. ‘Variations on Joy’ explores the sensory commonalities between visual art and sound creation. In short, an ode to joy! Interview with The artist.



Bliss Saigon: What led the Vin Gallery to invite you? How did the idea for this

exhibition come about?

HQ: I have been researching concepts of sound creation and visual representations of this for a while now. Vin Gallery invited me to Art Kaohsiung in 2017 and from there we decided to put an exhibition together. It’s very much inspired by my love of music and the joy it provides.


Bliss Saigon: What is your usual creative process?                        

HQ: I like to use the piano as the instrument to create my painting as the depth of the notes are wider. I then work on getting it from my feelings toward what I imagine and I see in my brain.


Bliss Saigon: In the past, you have been inspired by architectural aesthetics and sculpture in particular. Are you still open to other ways of expression than painting?

HQ: I have studied a wide range of mediums including sculpture and watercolor and continue to create work across mediums. However, this series concentrates on combining music and visual art and I find painting best expresses this for me.



Howard Qiu Variation #6 Acrylic on Canvas 100cm x 100cm Vin Gallery 2017


Bliss Saigon: How much importance do you give to color and light in your work as a painter?

HQ: Color and light are how I represent music in my art, it is like a code for sound. Each color is inspired by the music I hear and feel as I paint. Once you know the color code you can read it, practice it and play it.






Bliss Saigon: According to you, from what moment a painter, a photographer, a musician becomes an artist?

HQ: That’s a tricky question, I think it depends on when one feels they are an artist.


Bliss Saigon: Today There are major themes in your painting such as rhythm, melody, harmony, and tone. What roles do they play in your work?

HQ: Music is a form of audio art, painting is a form of visual art, these two formats constitute and compliment the majority of the art forms. I am inspired by visual and aural, so I like to combine my art with elements from both of them.





Bliss Saigon: Would you compare the work of the painter’s gesture with the orchestra conductor’s gestures?

HQ: When I am painting I imagine both visual and aural together and compose them in a visual way when painting, so yes the gestures feel very similar.


Bliss Saigon: Do you agree with the idea that in music, words blend with melodies while unfolding in time and that painting and photography are frozen in time? or do you think that the process of painting scrolls like music in time and is never really finished by the fact that each spectator participates by his interpretation in the recreation of a work, like the music listener?

HQ: I think music is an expression of joy and emotion that can certainly be expressed through a painting or photography. Art making is a physical process and I think the expression of movement, layers of texture, color, and tone align with the movement of creating music. I agree that in a way all art forms stay alive and continue to shift and grow as each viewer or listener interprets it.



Howard Qiu Variation #3 Acrylic on Canvas 100cm x 100cm Vin Gallery 2017

Bliss Saigon: How do you imagine the viewer’s experience in front of your paintings?

HQ: I hope that they can feel the joy I feel when creating the work and with time start to see and understand the sounds expressed in each work.


Bliss Saigon: Do you think that a painting should be not only watching but also listened?

HQ: Yes, why not? Embrace all your senses to experience all art forms.



Howard Qiu Variation #16 Acrylic on Canvas 100cm x 100cm Vin Gallery 2017


Bliss Saigon: Your plans for 2018?

HQ: I plan to continue my research into music and visual art, but also explore how other mediums can express the emotions and joy.


Bliss Saigon: To get an idea of your character in a more general way, I like to submit to our guests the naive questions on the theme of the desert island …

On a desert island, which record do you take with you? In the night, I would enjoy to listen and sing the song by Lianne La Havas; Starry Starry Night. During the daytime, I would sing the Chines song; Under the Blue Sky, the Clouds Flow…


Which book and movie?: I would take the book and the movie of Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway, the story of Santiago and the great marlin really made a deep impression on me.


Howard Qiu | Variations on Joy – Vin Gallery HCMC
12 January 2018 to 10 February 2018

Opening: 12 January 2018 | 6-9pm
Address: Vin Gallery, 6 Le Van Mien, Thao Dien, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam



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Bliss Saigon is an online magazine dedicated to the Art of living in Ho Chi Minh City and Asia. The magazine present a unique editorial approach based on experts and influencers contributions, written with optimism, humor and accessibility, offering an interactive and ludic reading on lifestyle topics with sharp selections for unique insights.