Shop – Intuitive Fluid Abstract Painting Journal of Tokoroii (Zoe Bu)

“I know nothing but I feel everything.”

tokoroii (Zoe Bu) is a new comer to Canada, and a recent come-out queer person who identifies as gender-fluid and pan-romantic demisexual. Xe was born and raised in southwest China, and already fell in love with the ambience of art + design that Toronto has to offer. During the stay as a previous graphic design student xe has been navigating life difficulties caused by cultural shock and long-term mental health challenges alone for the past few years. Not every artist has to be suffering like a cliché in order to make art, however, tokoroii’s art pieces are the most affirmative fruits of positivity that xe can possibly make out of those crippling “negativities”.

Therefore making art firstly started to become xyr therapeutic relief and then has been taking its significant role as a poetically yet realistically outlet for channeling suppressed emotions. Then through the interactions and conversations with the audience (friends & colleagues), tokoroii gets re-inspired by all the feedback because “people see things that I don’t originally see while creating, and everyone’s unique interpretation makes them (the paintings) more vitalized.” “I feel the calling,” said xe, “and my life has been deeply converted by it (art).” After a while of way finding since late 2018, tokoroii has recently achieved a few things with xyr current painting series The Right Kind of Mess, such as getting into V@M 2019, having the opportunity as an indie studio artist at Sketch Working Arts, and also being accepted by OCAD U for Drawing & Painting. These outcomes within 6 months have offered tokoroii a chance to find out that art means being spontaneous/intuitive and prudent/thoughtful at the same time to xemself; authenticity and timeliness tend to be heavily cooperated in xyr work.

With the affluent intentions and ambitions, tokoroii hope that xe can have a career as a lifetime artist from where xe has started here in Toronto. As this very moment, comparing to years back when xe refused to open up to the world and saw things with hostility, tokoroii would describe himself as a totally better version of xyr old personality which is led by the transformation of doing art and the wholeness of being xyr true self. Xe is enormously grateful for every piece of social service and mental care xe has ever accessed because nothing would happen for xe without the right support.

In the future, xe wishes to hopefully destigmatize mental illness, spread pride and discuss the connection between spirituality and universe, through xyr art practice in multidisciplinary forms, and attempts to ignite something extraordinary out of this gift of translating and rephrasing human feelings as abstract visualizations in somewhat artistic ways.


What do you do?

Acrylic and mixed media on Canvas, not limited, also trying new things


Use 5 keywords to describe your art/medium

Intuitive "fluid+abstract" painting journal


Why did you get started?

Firstly as my therapy for mental illnesses and along the way I feel the calling.


Tell us the 1st time you knew what you are doing is the way?

People told me "you should do this for a living."


What are you working on right now?

The Right Kind of Mess is my very first series of “fluid+abstract” paintings which evidences the real stories, hurts/solaces, and realizations though my life as a self-exploration journal, from the timeframe since late 2017 till early 2019, and there are 9 pieces in total, themed with complex emotions evoked by what actually happened at specific times in life, and then painted afterwards. What I intended to communicate from this series is that how subtle and strong the abstract feelings of human beings can be interpreted in the languages of abstract art. A lot times art doesn’t need too many words to be understood, but for meeting for the first time, I want you to know that I exist and who I am. Representational artwork is beyond great yet the art form of abstract and fluid speak the clearest to me personally; so I have tried to combine these two ideas together and hopefully these paintings can bring you a fresh visual presence while implying any possible resonance.


Describe your creative process?

I pour my emotions/feeling onto the canvas with a plan.


Who is your art for? Why is it important?

For myself as a start, and then for my queer community, hopefully for anyone one day. I would see my art a book of diary and also a piece of mirror that takes notes of real things happened in my life and they are evidences that I exist and live, and the audience could see things that are probably underplayed or overlooked form day to day life are shown again.


What is the hardest part about being an artist?

The fear of NOT being discovered and recognized, the hardship between surviving and getting art supplies of course.


If you could tell your younger self anything what would it be and why? 

Don't be afraid, reclaim your own voice, and make it heard.


If you had to pitch a collaborative project to the community, what would it be?

A collaborative project that intends to destigmatize mental health or spread pride.


What is one thing you'd like to fix in the art community?

That some artists have to choose surviving over thriving.


Why is art and creativity important for the community at large

Art and creativity are the essence of human imagination and they need to be encouraged, nurtured and kept.



Have you had to deal with isolation, mental healths and or homelessness? What did you learn from your experience?

Yes I have lived with isolation and mental illness over 7 years in total and my life before was heavily impacted by it. It altered my way of seeing this world and made the worst version of myself, but after years of getting help and practice, I come to know about how emotions work in my head, how to deal with stress/circumstances with mindfulness, and how to gain back the control and be the master of my own life.


What are your views on isolation, homelessness, mental health in the arts community? 

That some artists have to choose surviving over thriving.


What are some steps artists can take to cope with isolation, homelessness, mental health? *

Social services, group therapy, counselling.


Shop - Intuitive Fluid Abstract Painting Journal of Tokoroii (Zoe Bu)

What is your Instagram (or portfolio/shop) Url? *


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