Female Asian Artists You Should Know About Part I

Art is a form of self-expression and it surpasses gender boundaries. But for far too long, women have been overshadowed by men in the field. The former didn’t share the same amount of opportunities as the latter and that speaks a lot about our society. Women, in the history of art, have challenged social constructs and have not backed down from gender stereotypes. Their works are progressive and fearless about questioning political issues.

Women are brilliant, dynamic, and diverse, and could compete with anyone when it comes to different forms of art. So, enjoyers of aesthetics, sculpture, and multidisciplinary arts, and believer of the power that women hold, this list is for you.

Photo credits to Firstpost

1. Zarina Hashmi

Indian-American artist and printer Zarina Hashmi, better known by her alias Zarina, lived and worked in New York City from 16 July 1937 to 25 April 2020. She creates sculpture, prints, and drawings. Her work, which is connected to the Minimalist movement, made use of abstract and geometric forms to elicit a spiritual response from the observer.

Zarina's identity as an Indian woman who was born a Muslim and the fact that she spent her entire childhood moving from place to place both influenced her art. Her use of Islamic religious decoration's visual elements was particularly notable for its regular geometry. Her early works' abstract and understated geometric aesthetic has been compared to those of minimalists like Sol LeWitt.

The idea of home as a flexible, abstract realm that transcends materiality or location was addressed in Zarina's art. Her artwork frequently contains motifs that allude to concepts like movement, diaspora, and exile.

Photo credits to The Redhead Riter

2. Red Hong Yi

Hong Yi, also known as "Red," is a Malaysian-born artist and architectural designer. She is referred to as an artist who "paints without a paintbrush" because she transforms our perception of items and image-making through her paintings and art installations using commonplace objects and materials.

Red developed her artistic style by employing materials in bulk to create portraits of well-known Chinese figures. She was inspired by China's industrial capacity and the abundance of materials found in wholesale markets. Her other works include a portrait of Ai Weiwei with seven kilograms of sunflower seeds in honor of his porcelain Sunflower Seeds installation, a portrait of Chinese director Zhang Yimou with 2000 socks, a portrait of singer Jay Chou with coffee cup stains in honor of his song "Secret," a portrait of Aung Saan Su Kyi with 2000 dyed carnations in honor of the way she ties flowers in her hair, and a portrait of singer Adele as a tribute to her song "Set Fire to the Rain" using hundreds of melted tealight candles.

Clients from all around the world have sought her work, and she has received invitations to speak at conferences abroad. For his 60th birthday in 2014, Jackie Chan hired her to make a portrait of himself using 64,000 chopsticks. A video of the artwork has amassed 1.9 million views on YouTube.

Photo credits to CAFA ART INFO

3. Yin Xuizhen

Chinese artist Yin Xiuzhen, born in 1963, specializes in sculpture and installation. To illustrate the link between memory and cultural identity, she uses worn textiles and mementos from her Beijing youth.

She is most known for her series of sculptures called Portable City, which were made from garments gathered from various cities and fashioned into building-like forms before being placed into luggage. In order to share her opinions about the many places she has seen in this age of globalization, Yin has created more than 40 Portable City bags for different cities across the world.

Yin frequently utilizes suitcases and clothing in her works, such as Fashion Terrorism (2004–2005), to explore universal concerns like security and trust. In Fashion Terrorism, Yin created guns and other items that were not permitted on airplanes using clothing before packing them in a suitcase.

Additionally, Yin continually expresses concern in her work for the interaction between the human and the artist, with a focus on Beijing, her hometown. Her works examined the problems that globalization and homogenization brought about. Her trademark materials include worn garments, cement, and waste building materials, and she started her career at a time when environmental degradation in China received little attention.

Photo credits to AsiaOne

4. Han Sai Por

Sculptor Han Sai Por was born in Singapore on July 19, 1943. She is perhaps most known for her organic-shaped stone sculptures, some of which are Growth (1985), Spirit of Nature (1988), Object C (1992), and Seeds (2006). Her body of work, however, is diverse and includes 20 Tonnes (2002), which is composed of a row of six ridged monolithic blocks with a smaller block at either end, all carved from a single granite rock, as well as Four Dimensions (1993), a collection of geometrical structures.

Han received the Cultural Medallion for Art in 1995 in recognition of her services to the arts. She also won the sculpture and painting category at the Lalit Kala Akademi's (National Academy of Art of India) 11th Triennale in India in 2005, and China's Outstanding City Sculpture Award the following year.

She was the first artist in residence at the Singapore Society's Sculpture Pavilion and the founding president of the Sculpture Society in Singapore, where she is still an honorary president. Han challenges humanist principles and values while focusing on nature as its overriding motif.

Photo credits to CR Fashion Book

5. Mariko Mori

Japanese transdisciplinary artist Mariko Mori is well-known for her futuristic hybrid self-images and videos, which are frequently disguised and feature traditional Japanese design elements. Themes of technology, spirituality, and transcendence are frequently explored in her works.

Early works by Mori make use of traditional and old Japanese culture while featuring futuristic ideas and figures. The cosplay scene had a big impact on her early photos. The artist is disguised as numerous self-made personas in movies and images that contain fantastic deities, robots, alien beings, and spaceships. She has been fascinated by technology and spirituality throughout her career, viewing technology as a way to elevate and enhance consciousness and the self. She credits a sleep paralysis episode she had in her early 20s, which left her unsure of whether she was alive or dead, for sparking her interest in consciousness and death.

Mori frequently employs layers of photography and digital images to explore the juxtaposition of Eastern mythology with Western culture, as shown in her 1995 installation Birth of a Star. Later works, like Nirvana, portray her as a goddess who transcends her early roles through technology and image and switches from realistic metropolitan surroundings to more otherworldly environments.

Stay tuned on our Website, Twitter, and Facebook page as we will release another list of amazingly brilliant female Asian artists soon!


Marjorie Ann M. Patricio is a Digital Marketing and Brand Development intern of PS Media Enterprise. She is currently a 4th-year Communication Research student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Sta. Mesa, Manila.


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OBRAA.org: Female Asian Artists You Should Know About Part I
Female Asian Artists You Should Know About Part I
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