Andrew Chuani Ho on Animals and the Art of Sport

“The characters in my drawings are surrogates that I live through vicariously.” Andrew Chuani Ho’s colourful, intricate drawings depict a world full of bright-eyed animals wearing sports jerseys and lounging in richly-patterned interiors.

Someday We’ll Be Free

Your show The Other Side has just opened at Richard Heller Gallery in Los Angeles. What can we expect from it?

I have made a new body of drawings that depict the story of a mythology that I’m creating. At this point in the story the characters are stuck in a sort of limbo. All my characters in this show are lost in a unique labour that they must overcome.

All of your work is meticulously hand drawn in colour pencil. Can you tell me a little about your process and how long you spend on each piece?

I use pencil because it’s the most honest medium. The pencils that I use are unforgiving, so when you make that mark, it’s not going away and you’re committed. All my mistakes and decisions are there to see. Also, every square inch is painstakingly drawn. With each tiny pencil point, I can create this whole world on paper, it’s truly wonderful.

It’s hard to say how long it takes to make each piece. Every piece is different but none of them are finished overnight. Days, weeks, months—I don’t keep count but maybe I should.

Grisworld

There is a distinct comic tone to your drawings. Who are some of your favourite comic or graphic artists?

Oh man! There are a lot of cartoons and comics that I grew up with. Those Merrie Melodies cartoon animations are really up there. Akira Toriyama always delivers. Miyazaki makes truly wonderful worlds. Moebius is super sick. I don’t know if he counts but Henry Darger is one of my biggest inspirations. That guy gives me such courage. He made this amazing huge world all for himself, everything is entwined with his struggles and passions, he is truly the best.

The Scribe

The anthropomorphic animals in your work are often wearing sports jerseys or caps. What do sports—and animals—mean in your life?

The characters in my drawings are surrogates that I live through vicariously. They’re drawn in a visual language that people can relate to. It’s a weird thing, but when you watch good cartoons or movies you insert yourself into their shoes, so when someone gets beat up you kinda feel like you’re getting your ass kicked, or you get gushy when somebody falls in love. So my characters all resemble parts of me in that sense.

Animals and sports are huge passions of mine. There’s so much to discover in the natural world. I learned the other day that Tasmanian devils have litters of twelve babies but the mama devil only has four nipples, so the babies have to race to the nipples and the rest become morsels for mama. Isn’t that weird? As for sports, I am obsessed with basketball and I truly believe that athletes are artists, they perform these incredible feats and are heralded in archives of history. It’s not too different from painting.

Castaway

There are lots of really beautiful interiors in your drawings. Where is your favourite place to make work?

I really only make work in my studio and to be frank it’s not much to look at. I do however spend a great deal of time studying interiors from great architects and designers. They’re like painters but they paint with walls and furniture. Each room is a composition and is intentionally arranged to fulfill an aesthetic. I am drawn to that.

 

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Andrew Chuani Ho: The Other Side

Until 9 June 2018 at Richard Heller Gallery, Santa Monica

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