M'sian artist Red Hong Yi creates burning artwork for Time Magazine

Reta Lee
·Editor-in-Chief, Lifestyle
·3 min read
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You would probably have seen her Jay Chou coffee stains artwork or even the ‘teh tarik man’ made from 20,000 tea bags. Malaysian artist Red Hong Yi is known for ‘painting’ without using paintbrushes and using unconventional items such as flower petals, stained tea bags and even bamboo chopsticks to create her artworks. 

This time, for the April 26 issue of Time Magazine, the esteemed publishing house commissioned her to create an image that is part sculpture, part performance art. And the result was lit (pun intended).

Hong Yi shared with Yahoo Lifestyle SEA that the artwork took “two months of planning, two weeks of matchstick ‘sticking’ painstakingly by hand and about two minutes for the whole thing to burn down.”

The artwork is to raise awareness on how the global climate crisis touches all of us, no matter where we live. The 50,000 green matchsticks served as a metaphor for trees.

Red Hong Yi's artwork 'Climate Is Everything' for Time Magazine. (PHOTO: Annice Lyn and Jessie Lyee)
Red Hong Yi's artwork 'Climate Is Everything' for Time Magazine. (PHOTO: Annice Lyn and Jessie Lyee)

The former architect turned artist chose KongsiKL as the venue space to hold the artwork after seeing landscape architect Ng Sek San shared photos of it on his Facebook page. “It looked like a space for creative experimentation and after checking out the space, we found that it was suitable. It has high ceilings and is very airy and spacious,” Hong Yi said.

Hong Yi worked with a six-person team of Malaysians spanning from video, photo to artwork crew. Two fire safety personnel were also recruited to spray layers of fire retardant paint to ensure the fire did not spread out.

Red Hong Yi. (PHOTO: David Yeow)
Red Hong Yi. (PHOTO: David Yeow)

On the pandemic, Hong Yi stressed that it has been anxiety-inducing, but “on the good side, it has grounded me at one spot as I was living out of my suitcase before this.” To help manage her stress, she has been exercising regularly and attempting rock climbing twice a week. “It makes me a lot happier. I also generally try to switch off from work after 6pm,” Hong Yi added.

Currently based in Malaysia, Hong Yi has hired three full-timers and two part-timers to help her focus and make better quality artworks for her clients. She hopes to embark on a book or documentary project as she would like to create more personal projects in the next half of the year.

See more photos of the artwork below:

Red Hong Yi's artwork 'Time Is Everything' for Time Magazine. (PHOTO: Annice Lyn and Jessie Lyee)
Red Hong Yi's artwork 'Time Is Everything' for Time Magazine. (PHOTO: Annice Lyn and Jessie Lyee)
Red Hong Yi's artwork 'Time Is Everything' for Time Magazine. (PHOTO: Annice Lyn and Jessie Lyee)
Red Hong Yi's artwork 'Time Is Everything' for Time Magazine. (PHOTO: Annice Lyn and Jessie Lyee)
Red Hong Yi's artwork 'Time Is Everything' for Time Magazine. (PHOTO: Annice Lyn and Jessie Lyee)
Red Hong Yi's artwork 'Time Is Everything' for Time Magazine. (PHOTO: Annice Lyn and Jessie Lyee)
Red Hong Yi's artwork 'Time Is Everything' for Time Magazine. (PHOTO: Annice Lyn and Jessie Lyee)
Red Hong Yi's artwork 'Time Is Everything' for Time Magazine. (PHOTO: Annice Lyn and Jessie Lyee)
Red Hong Yi's artwork 'Time Is Everything' for Time Magazine. (PHOTO: Annice Lyn and Jessie Lyee)
Red Hong Yi's artwork 'Time Is Everything' for Time Magazine. (PHOTO: Annice Lyn and Jessie Lyee)
Red Hong Yi's artwork 'Time Is Everything' for Time Magazine. (PHOTO: Annice Lyn and Jessie Lyee)
Red Hong Yi's artwork 'Time Is Everything' for Time Magazine. (PHOTO: Annice Lyn and Jessie Lyee)

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