Jessica Zoob's Hong Kong studio
Contemporary artist Jessica Zoob is working on a gorgeous new collection of miniatures in her Hong Kong Studio. I went to see the work in progress and talk to Jessica about her inspiration and experiences travelling and working in Asia. Jessica describes the ebb and flow of inspiration and the compulsion to paint. “My relationship with my work is a passionate dialogue.” At times merely a whisper, at others a shout forcing her to create. Magic and frenzy push Jessica to obliterate what may have taken years to create in just a second, in pursuit of a moment of “elation” when she knows the painting is complete. This moment is, for Jessica, “precious and unique. Those moments are rare, sunshine on purple skies”. When in Hong Kong Jessica is able to give in to her need to create and paint for days, “I get up in the morning, I paint all day. I sleep for a while then paint some more.”
Jessica’s life as an artist mirrors her experiences travelling: they are extreme, spontaneous, transient and joyful. She describes moments of great doubt, the agony of loss and intense fear, all balanced by moments of euphoria. When travelling Jessica follows her instinct and takes her time to take in the beauty of rain on a windscreen, a single flower or the rustle of a new dress. When painting, she follows a map only she can see, though “glimpses, colour combinations, suggestions, flickering like phosphorus, it is a thread to follow, the first tiny stitch in a tapestry”.
Jessica finds inspiration everywhere she goes. The rich, vast and ever-varied landscapes of Asia provide an endless stream of stimulation. In her words, “the collage of concrete, pebble, brick and stone, the puddles, the cracks and patches” lead to an “ever-present commentary of how to capture this moment and then this one and the next”. Jessica has an eye for the tiniest detail. constantly taking photographs, when she paints she does not attempt to copy, but rather to “capture the essence” of her dynamic muse.
Jessica began living part-time in Hong Kong in 2016. The move has strikingly expanded her technique and style, as well as providing such a rich flood of inspiration. In the UK Jessica works in an enormous studio nestled in the South Downs, in Hong Kong her studio is tiny. For her “it has been really exciting to challenge myself to work in such a different way… creating really intricate paintings”. The latest collection is, for Jessica, “more like a sketchbook” infused with playfulness and patience, Jessica is allowing the paintings to take as long as they need. Already, at this early stage, the paintings are almost jewel encrusted, each one a multi-layered, miniature treasure.
Jessica is delighted by the contrast between the UK and Hong Kong. Here the palette of her inspiration is “extraordinarily opposite to the chalky, misty tones of Sussex”. It has been “liberating” to experiment and “play with the clashing colours and fluorescence” that abound across Asia. By travelling extensively Jessica has also been able to sample the enormous variation across Asia. In Japan, Jessica describes the feeling of “walking into my waterlily paintings, beautiful and densely-intricate gardens” creating tranquillity akin to her signature works. In Thailand Jessica is delighted by the presence of “another temple or shrine on every street corner”. A jewel box of delight, “it always makes me smile” it is a place of tranquillity and playfulness. Hong Kong is, for Jessica a place of endless contrast between the old and new. Graffiti, neon lighting and it’s angular aesthetic has sparked a brave and unique new stage in Jessica’s career.