Happy D on her upcoming show, entitled Forbidden Kingdom, shares: “From beautiful concubines whose allure led to the destruction of a dynasty to beneficent goddesses who reincarnate on earth to end humanity’s suffering, women’s tales have been some of the most poignant and memorable in Chinese history and mythology. These women have been adored and portrayed countlessly in art and literature throughout China’s several-thousand-year-old history. Recently, due advancements in CGI and technology, these women have become reborn with unprecedented detail in modern Chinese film, photography, and other media adaptations. I wanted to showcase my own modern interpretation of these Chinese women whose stories helped inspire and shape me as a young Chinese artist. As a kid, I would constantly sit in front of the TV in our Beijing apartment watching ancient Chinese soap operas while attempting to doodle their beautiful costumes in my sketchbook. Now, I wanted to be able to paint them with enough polish to do justice to their iconic exquisiteness & hopefully inspire my audience to fall in love them as I have.

The name Forbidden Kingdom is meant to reflect the hidden backstories of these female characters. I wanted to viewer to get an intimate glimpse into their souls outside of their commonly known tales passed down throughout the centuries. By painting them, I had gotten to know them as unique individuals instead of legendary beings. By recreating them from birth, I had incorporated bits and pieces of myself into these characters - showcasing their flaws, weaknesses, and desires in a way that has never been revealed before. So essentially, Forbidden Kingdom is a place (or dimension) hidden from the rest of the world, a secret haven where these goddesses can shed their mythical armor and just enjoy the freedom of being vulnerable women.”

Regarding her aesthetic, she shares: “My main inspiration for the aesthetic of this collection was traditional Chinese watercolor paintings because they established such a serene atmosphere both in their elegant visual language and in the poetic quietness of the nature they portrayed. Before this show, my pieces typically featured alien-esque women immersed in surreal evening capes. My painting techniques had relied heavily on blending, saturated dark colors, and rich details in both the subjects and backgrounds. For this show, I challenged myself to adopt the illustrative and minimal aesthetic of traditional Chinese watercolor paintings. I wanted to create a hybrid of my familiar oil painting techniques and the elegance and simplicity of Chinese watercolors by utilizing clean linework and a limited color palette.”