A Saturday Afternoon with Salome Wu

Salomé Wu is a multi-medium artist working across an incredibly broad range of processes from watercolour painting to performance art. Using her art as a way to explore her own experiences and emotions, she experiments with the notion of temporality and impermanence, something that feels particularly prominent in a present dominated by the lockdown. Employing sweeping and swaying non-linear forms, Wu brilliantly captures a sense of the semi-tangible, stirring up the viewers previously locked away memories. I spoke to her about lockdown life, her artistic processes, and how the two have combined.

I called Salomé Wu on a Saturday afternoon, interrupting a lockdown cleaning frenzy. We reflected on how the current restrictions have taken claim over even our cleaning routines as I scurried around on my laptop and iPhone, making sure the 4 different recordings I had started were all working, just to be sure I would catch everything. Aside from altered cleaning routines, Wu speaks about how lockdown life has impacted her artistic practice.

Salomé Wu, Untitled, Oil on canvas, 77x 122 cm

Wu: ‘I think, also because of lockdown you just have so much time. And for me personally, I just literally like trying to produce all the time, every day. And now I have to kind of, otherwise, it just feels quite stagnant. So it’s kind of like spicing things up a little bit by trying new things as well, and seeing what comes up.’

This involuntary free time that we all have has led Wu to try out some new techniques, experiment more with style. She says that this was not necessarily an intentional choice but rather something that emerged due to the nature of this new push to always be working. Thinking about this, I wondered what her working style was like.

Wu: ‘It is usually quite spontaneous. I’ll just wait a little bit and have a look at some of my previous writing I have. Usually, that’s how I develop work. I think I’m quite intuitive with words. I develop my work from my words. You just write a little bit and then just start doing a few sketches, and then things will just come together quite naturally.’

I was interested in this idea of her work being rooted in writing that the initial sketches then seemed to flow from. It sounded like a very solid, grounded way of working that seems surprising when considering the airy, whimsicality of the final works.