My work is meaningful when it rings like a bell. It shocks like the new, and it bothers like memory, like turning to finally face what you forgot you never knew. When something I wish would stay buried is instead laid bare, my work is imbued with Presence. It is my animating force, both pure spirit and wild beast. When you see it, your eyes touch it, and then it is you who is touched. My work is meaningful when it is kinesthetic: a sensation of color leaves a taste in one’s mouth; pictorial rhythms land like body blows.
I draw with the attention of a lover; I tune my body like a radio. It is as much listening as doing, like writing a novel with a Ouija board. The image is summoned from below as though I were kneeling in a river panning for gold. It’s like divining water, wandering through the desert fingering a thin branch — tender enough to sway me.
I make parts and parts and parts: a doodle on a napkin here, a smear of paint there, a drawing I got mad at and tore out the only good corner. My work arrives less from a master plan than from fragments that emerge from the bottom and wake up. All these fragments pinned to my walls and languishing in drawers are like millions of cicada nymphs chewing away underground, one day rising up into the branches to sing as one.
What interests me is how this collection of fragments, this Frankenstein’s monster, gains a soul, this Presence. Its incongruence, rather than being strange, is strangely familiar. When you look at the monster’s face, your own eyes look back.
What you see is not so much what I see but rather my experience of seeing. Seeing emanates from behind the visible. The light energy flowing from back to front is the true subject of my work. My works burrow through this darkness. At the same time, your gaze careens to and fro to greet it. We find one another in this waltz.
Even while seamless, harmonious illusion invites you to enter, my contrary painting shatters the illusion. Wrongness, interruption appears like watching an actor in a play break the fourth wall to address the audience directly. When I do this, I make you a partner in this waltz. I ask you to dance.
Facing the sublime, we weep before something other than sadness. When an artwork reaches escape velocity, the stars seem absurd — a fearful awe that draws tears. When standing before the abyss, the world spins beneath our feet; and our defenses crumble.
Art is serious business. Pictures touch the core of existence and the limits of awareness. Art makes containers nothing else can hold. States of mind would otherwise be unknowable and un-shareable; and thus unable to sustain life. What I (and every other artist) makes art about: survival, desiring love, yearning for spirit, forgiving the past, and facing death are a big deal. As Miller Williams says “down where the spirit meets the bone,” we all suffer trauma, shame, fear, and delusion; and we all search for awareness, apotheosis, and transcendence. I continually re-accept that my sense of drama is a gift. My life’s dearest wish is to give it.
There is the side of me which cares with the patience, acute attention, and passion of a lover. There is the side of me that commits to order, organizes along (a)logical threads like a librarian king. And there is the magician who transforms one substance into another. Whether I am making pictures, practicing yoga, or teaching; I work at the intersection of touch and thought.
Albert Fung is a Philadelphia-based artist, art-instructor, and yoga instructor. He was born and raised in San Francisco, California. He earned his BFA in Printmaking from Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York. In 1996 he earned his MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. He painted and exhibited in New York City from 1993 to 2011. Since 2011, he has been based in Philadelphia.
He works in oil painting, in printmaking (mostly intaglio), in mixed media (watercolor, pastel, collage, acrylic, etc.) on paper and panel, and in digital imaging. His work has been exhibited throughout the New York and Philadelphia areas, notably the LeRoy Neiman Center in New York and Boston Street Gallery, LG Tripp Gallery, Roger LaPelle Galleries, and Arch Enemy Arts in Philadelphia.
During the 2021-22 school year, he taught Drawing at Drexel University and at Arcadia University, as well as Pastel and Watercolor at Fleisher Art Memorial, where he has taught since 2020. He previously taught Lithography at Columbia University from 2005-07.
He has been practicing yoga since 2003. In 2015 he gained his Certification in Yoga Teaching in 2015 in the Classical tradition from Motherheart Yoga Sangha in Philadelphia. Today, he teaches yoga from his art studio.
Today, he makes and exhibits paintings, drawings, and prints; teaches yoga and art.