Known as the artist who ‘loves to paint, but not with a paintbrush’, Hong Yi, who goes by her nickname, ‘Red’, is an artist known for creating pieces using every day, unconventional materials. She was given the nickname because her name, Hong, sounds like the word ‘red’ in Mandarin. Red’s grandparents and father left Shanghai, China in the 1960’s during the start of the Cultural Revolution and moved to Malaysia where she was born and raised.
After graduating with a Master in Architecture from the University of Melbourne, Red moved to Shanghai for a career in architecture. She fell in love with the city’s chaotic charm, once home to her father and grandparents. Inspired by her surroundings and the range of affordable materials available from wholesale markets, it was here Red completed her first unconventional work, a portrait of Chinese contemporary artist Ai Weiwei made entirely out of sunflower seeds. A wave of innovative artworks ensued, including a portrait of Adele using 1500 melted tea lights, Aung San Suu Kyi with dyed carnations, a hanging structure of Jackie Chan using chopsticks. The use of materials in bulk in her project alludes to the globalisation and mass production in China and Asia. She has worked with clients such as Unilever, Hewlett Packard, Nespresso, AT&T Mercedes Benz, Esquire and many other.
Red has been featured in publications including Wall Street Journal, TIME, Fast Company and Huffington Post. She has spoken at conferences internationally on the topics of creativity and innovation, including the APEC Young Entrepreneur Conference in Beijing, TEDxkl in Kuala Lumpur, EG Conference in Monterey, California, and presented at the World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos, Switzerland. She is inspired by human diversity and the nuances of the human experience, and hopes her work will continue to allow her to share with and learn from different people and cultures.