My work begins as an emotional release. It articulates what words can not. The work demands the viewer to be open to new sensations and feelings. I translate emotions evoked from everyday observations, into colour, form and movement in paintings, sculptural works and collages.  My work embodies a sense of rawness and inhibition that is guided by experimentation, chance and control.  Painting with force and power, I intentionally combine contrasting loose gestures, splatters and organic forms with hard-edged shapes. I bring attention to the texture of the canvas through the staining of acrylic paint. 

My painting process is very intuitive and so I use collage to provide me structure. The shape-making derived from collage influences the shapes in my paintings. Experimenting with different textures, colours and forms through magazine clippings, I examine how collage can be lyrical and emotionally charged.

My wall and floor installation works straddle both painting and sculpture as it moves away from the confines of a rectangular frame. The twisting and moulding of the canvas further adds to the physical transference of movement derived from the painting process. The work invites the viewer to be engaged in slow observation. Details of the work reveal themselves as the viewer moves around the work like in the unfolding of a cinematic film. 

My explorations relate to my interest in emotional intelligence between cultures. As a child, I learned that it is more acceptable to show emotional restraint than to be openly expressive.  My art practice allows me space and freedom for self-expression without restrictions or judgement.  The painting process of layering, adding and removing not only references this tension but also to the complexity and range of these “mixed emotions”.  I use abstraction as a vehicle to disrupt conventions and to break free of the perceptions placed on me. Through cutting up and transforming the canvas, I am reconfiguring a new reality. 



Vanessa Lam lives and works in Vancouver, British Columbia as a mixed media painter. She is the Vancouver Regional and Grand Prize Winner of the 2017 Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series. As part of her award, she collaborated with Artsy to have her first solo exhibition in New York. Vanessa completed a one month residency at Takt Projektraum in Berlin, Germany. Lam’s work was featured in Create Magazine and Uppercase Magazine. Her work can be found in private collections in Vancouver, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.



Photography by: Joey Armstrong