With a love of traditional East Asian processes, Meu Teng explains how painting becomes a form of entertainment

Traditional Chinese and Korean painting combine with Ukiyo-e, goth and punk in the fascinating melting pot which is Meu Teng’s work.

19 July 2021


邓明永 (Meu Teng) has a unique point of view when it comes to painting. He sees it as a form of entertainment, a medium full of freedom and experimentation where, he tells us, “I don’t have any worries.” Using the blank digital canvas, “everything is done according to my own ideas,” says Meu Teng. His subjects undergo a highly stylised transformation which sees necks both widened and lengthened, shoulders broadened and facial features condensed; but despite this artistic interpretation when it comes to the human form, Meu Teng’s work is impressively pleasing, with each illustration brilliantly unique in aesthetic qualities.

Having grown up in China and currently studying in Korea, Meu Teng remarks how he has always possessed “a natural love for Eastern culture.” He has indulged in the act of painting since he was young, incorporating other aspects of traditional Chinese culture along the way including other loves such as Tang poetry and wash drawing. Elsewhere in his practice, he looks to Japanese Ukiyo-e and traditional Korean painting which elevates his illustrations to an upper notch of creativity where cultural melting pots intertwine.

While Eastern culture “affects me deeply”, at the same time Meu Teng’s friends also play a big part in influencing his work. At university, his friends introduced the illustrator to subcultures such as goth and punk; anti-establishment sentiments which can also be seen through Meu Teng’s compositions, from the flashes of fluorescent digital brush strokes to the symbolic imagery spotted in the background.


Copyright © 邓明永 (Meu Teng), 2021

Stylistically however, it is Meu Teng’s deep rooted fascination in traditional Chinese painting that bears strongest. “Oriental paintings do not emphasise perspective, light and shadow,” he explains, “they pay more attention to freehand brushwork,” something that continually inspires the illustrator’s approach. Preferring to express himself through simple yet powerful graphic lines which echo the boldness of Chinese calligraphy, Meu Teng takes all his traditional influences and shakes them up in a digital reboot which we can see before us.

The process is just one way for Meu Teng to further understand the relationship between art and himself, something he also achieves by studying the masters of paint from Kandinsky to Chernyshevsky. Portraiture, abstraction and concept combine in an act of artistic explosion which fuels his creativity. In this way, he often depicts women, varying in personality and environment, described through Meu Teng’s idiosyncratic visual language. “Although they have different ages and experiences, they are invariably beautiful, elegant and sexy, which fascinates me. The process of doing the project is as fun as hiding a small flower in a collection of poems.”

As for the future, Meu Teng hopes to combine biology and art to increase the readability of his works while continuing to pursue whatever new curiosities come his way, and fundamentally, to never stop learning.

GalleryCopyright © 邓明永 (Meu Teng), 2021

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Copyright © 邓明永 (Meu Teng), 2021

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.

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