This October, intimate-lifestyle brand LELO launched a global call-out to female artists, opening up conversations about female desire to “Celebrate Joy”. Locally, the brand teamed up with illustrative artist Claudia Chanhoi for a commissioned mural on Sai Street, Sheung Wan, featuring scenes of blooming flowers, fanciful fruits and a celebration of the female form.
Since 2003, Swedish intimate-lifestyle brand LELO has been transforming the landscape of personal massagers and bedroom accessories, igniting conversations about self-care, female empowerment and sexuality. “Celebrate Joy”, their latest global campaign, sees local artist Claudia Chanhoi teaming up with the brand to create a gorgeous mural in Sheung Wan.
Speaking about female intimacy with Chanhoi, she confesses, “I grew up in a Catholic household — sex was never talked about. It was definitely super taboo. I didn’t even know people could have sex for pleasure or intimacy. To me, it was only for making babies with your husband.”
Her personal story is one that has resonated with thousands; her art-focused, sex-confronting, debate-stimulating images on Instagram garnering her a following of almost 20,000 since its inception.
There’s a distinct cross-generational disconnect that is finally being addressed, and Chanhoi hopes to empower more women through both art and conversation.
Tell us a bit more about your journey to sexual wellness.
Around the time after I hit puberty, I realised that women’s bodies have been sexualised for ages and ages. I was also living in London for a while and, as an Asian woman, I was seen as an exotic object and I hated it.
I had my first love and first full sexual experience at the age of 22, so I was actually super late to the dating scene. That experience was the biggest mind-fuck for me! I enjoyed it but I felt guilty. There was definitely a lot of mental transitioning, which then led to experimenting, to finally, becoming comfortable with my body and my sexuality.
You mentioned a dissertation earlier that propelled the concept behind your current art.
Yes, in university, when it came time to prepare my dissertation, I didn’t know what to write about. Ultimately, I decided to draw from my own life experiences to delve deeper into a topic that would hopefully be relatable to a wider audience. So, I decided to write about the sexual objectification of women.
I studied Media Design, so my final works were six different objects based on women’s bodies. Long story short: Three years later, I was so bored in my full-time job that I revisited that university project and here we are now. There’s more of a focus on modern dating and relationships now and sexuality in general.
My posts on Instagram kept getting censored in the beginning so I had to research algorithms and how to get around it. I started to be a lot more playful with the captions and, you know, adding some flying birds or a different motif to the images to slide through the grey area.
Do your friends or family know that you’re the person behind @brainxeyes?
My parents have asked about my clients and what I do, and I still find it super embarrassing to open up to them fully. They’re quite open-minded now, I think, but how do you talk about sex with your parents?
I didn’t actually tell a lot of my friends about it as I kind of wanted to see if I could get any followers [on Instagram] organically. When I got my first 100 followers, I was so happy.
We saw some cute merchandise on your page!
Yes! I currently have some phone cases and socks. I also sell some prints and I’ve recently dabbled into the whole NFT scene. There’s a lot of digital artefacts in the market that’s starting to gain more traction, and the feedback has been very positive.
Tell us more about your partnership with LELO.
Instagram has been a great platform for me as it’s allowed a lot of exposure for my work. I was initially contacted by Current Projects, an art consultancy and production company, to work on the mural. I love the brand aesthetics of LELO and have always been a fan, so I jumped at the opportunity.
LELO is great because they are not a brand that is super sexualised at all. I think more and more women are looking to explore their bodies in a curious way that doesn’t have to be hyper-sexualised, so LELO’s high-end, luxury attitude was something I resonated with.
What other projects are you looking forward to?
I currently still have a full-time job as a brand designer, and though I really love it, I realised that there’s a big passion in me to pursue my own project. I’m not married and I don’t have any children, so I have all the time and energy to put into my own brand. It’s quite a privileged position to have this freedom, to only be responsible for yourself, so this is the best time for me to do it. I plan to pivot to being a full-time artist by early next year.
I’m considering an artist residency next year in Italy. I would love to dive into sculpture, doing something physical with my hands. I guess we’ll have to see what the world looks like then.
Check out more of Chanhoi’s work here.