Arts / Culture

Jason Phu has peace in his mind, love in his heart and a stomach full of butterflies

Jason Phu is not one to be herded into mundanity. This is not to say that the man is unruly in any sense. The artist has uncompromisingly stuck to his gut-instinctive art-making. This trait is a rarity not oft found today as Phu continues to climb the upper ranks of the art world. And there's plenty to recognise – Phu's works speak with a streamlined playfulness, and beam with colour. His art is propulsively eye-catching. It has a punch-line we may not be familiar with yet, but we can be sure of this: everything is a built-in joke.

I had previously attended a studio visit in 2023 with Phu, arranged by Arts-Matter. In the upstairs Carriageworks precinct, Phu took us through his process - except there wasn't much to it. The artist worked entirely off fumes and whatever stimuli he could find relevant and interesting at the time. Then, it was frogs. Frogs littered the surface of the artist's table, remnants from the mixed media installation he had previewed that year.

Now Phu has wrangled the art world into a new era of his work: a marriage between who the artist describes as 'a youthful and handsome Jason phu' and 'an old and haggard current day Phu' to make the frankenstein-like 'Jasonason Phuphu.'  

'peace in my mind, love in my heart and a stomach full of butterflies' is an exacting blend of old and new. Phu's unique blend of cartoonish pencilling and abstract brush strokes are injected with his own personal history. Folk tales of China past, jokes from comic strips, and anything he's taken into his own accord; all are refashioned into his world.

At his fourth opening at Chalk Horse, we catch the artist for a little tête-à-tête.


How has this collection ‘ peace in my mind, love in my heart and a stomach full of butterflies‘  differed from any previous exhibitions?

It has not really. I still like to just paint nice looking colourful paintings. Maybe the difference is that I created this series as a children's book to be printed at Officeworks.

What is the significance of showing your newest paintings alongside your older collection of scrolls from 2015? What is the context behind Jasonason Phuphu?

There is no real significance. I found the series of ink drawings in my drawers I was clearing out and thought I could sell them for money. jasonason phuphu is a combination of the name jason phu and Jason Phu. you can keep adding more Jason Phus to the name the larger it gets.


In May,  you will be presenting new works with Chalk Horse in Taipei. What can we expect from your next move?

A film director in Bangkok asked me to make a series of paintings for him for his next feature. I'll be showing those in Taipei. In the film, the paintings are made by a crazy painter in his dirty dusty studio that the protagonist visits. I am not crazy and my studio is quite nice and clean.


Where are you currently deriving your inspiration from?

I watch a lot of cartoons and play a lot of video games. Other than that, I hang out with my friends and family a lot and I enjoy meeting up with everyone for dinner or lunch.



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The world is coming around to witness the metamorphosis of Jason Phu. Perhaps he's the one laughing now.


When can the public view the exhibition?

Phu’s fourth exhibition at Chalk Horse will run from 24 April to 25 May, 2024. For further information, visit:


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