Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Take a look, then look again

By Louise Kinross

Look at this illustration of an elephant. I couldn't stop. I kept seeing in the detail things that I hadn't initially seen.

This is one of my favourite sketches by Hanzhen Yap, a 16-year-old from Johor Bahru in Malaysia. Hanzhen's intricate drawings of animals, historical buildings and everyday objects like kettles have been shown in 27 art exhibitions.

Hanzhen has autism, and his parents taught him to speak and read by pairing words with thumbnail sketches that they drew together. As a young child they drew everything around the house.

"He draws primarily from photographs, even though he draws very much better if he has seen the object recently where, we believe, the image is still fresh in his mind," says his mother Yvonne.

I sent Hanzhen a list of questions about his art, his autism, and any advice he might have for other youth with disabilities. He's going to work on responses with his parents which we'll share in the next week or two.

Hanzhen just completed a commission for the Consul-General of Singapore in Johor Bahru.

I can't wait to share his thoughts on his drawing process. Stay tuned!