Irony, play and compassion

Fans and leisure

The pleasure of a folded fan lies in the magical moment of opening. A scene, a poem appears in mid-air, guided by the flick of a wrist.

There is further delight in how each painter responds to the difficulty of the form. For a fan is an awkward, twisted shape, difficult to grip with any frame of vision. When used for calligraphy, a fan's expanded top and narrow base force together parallel lines of vertical text. It is a challenge to the artist, or simply so absurd a support that it encourages whimsical and uninhibited work – where lack of expectation offers a kind of freedom.

And a fan is still a fan. It is not a format for painting in the first instance (oh, of course, many are mounted as paintings, and some begin in being mounted already, but that is a recuperation of this thing for professional work…) Fans are objects of idleness, summer playthings, and toys for self-expression. A sense of whimsy comes from working with something so ephemeral, so easily damaged or destroyed by folding and carrying.

 Brigitte Wear 華熙令, age 5
all the characters I know
Private collection