To Each, his zone《各自角》
YEUNG Hok Tak
10 June 2017 - 25 July 2017
Opening: Saturday, 10 June 2017, 4 - 7 pm
The exhibition brings together established and emerging artists, highlighting the diversity of art-making in Hong Kong and inviting comparisons between the different approaches. Although each of the artists has their own distinct voice, they all share the experience of having spent most, if not all, of their life in Hong Kong’s unique and often challenging living environment.
YEUNG Hok Tak is well known for his illustrations and comics, and has long been a fixture in the local art world. His new oil paintings, many of which show urban landscapes, appear hilarious at first – a closer look often reveals tiny figures having sex in dark corners. But there is sadness beneath the humorous surface: In a place so densely populated it leaves almost no room for intimacy, where life is further restricted by oppressive social norms, sex becomes an act of desperation and protest. Hong Kong’s skyline, a looming presence in some of the paintings, only deepens the feeling of helplessness.
The same high-rise towers become main characters in the work of Chihoi, another well-established artist and illustrator. His meticulous pencil drawings portray buildings in a moment of transformation, when they are completely covered in bamboo scaffolding while being redeveloped and converted into even higher structures. The detailed and careful depictions evoke a strong sense of nostalgia, a longing for solidity in a city that keeps reinventing itself at a frenetic pace, all too willingly sacrificing its history and identity in the process.
Chihoi’s drawings make for a fascinating comparison with those of Tiffany LAW. Like Chihoi, she takes her inspiration from Hong Kong’s ever-changing urban environment. But where her fellow artist relies on architectural precision, Law allows herself more freedom, resulting in vibrant and emotionally charged lines. In her largest drawing, a dark expanse suggests a body of water. Half hidden in the mesh of lines are the contours of ships and construction cranes, the harbingers of a world engulfed in change. Several smaller drawings depict empty guardhouses – they are surrounded by potted plants, set up by the security guards in a touching attempt to make the dehumanised environment more liveable.
In sharp contrast to LAW’s line drawings, the work of Elpis CHOW builds upon colour and its evocative power. The subjects of her square-format paintings are deceptively simple: a street corner at night, the branches of a plant, a pair of legs. It is the artist’s eerily muted palette of earthy shades, however, that transforms the seemingly ordinary into something higher. In CHOW’s hands, painting becomes an investigation into the quiet mysteries of daily life.
The urban influence is not always obvious. In her deeply personal work, Lulu NGIE turns inward to explore an emotional landscape marked by loss and struggle. On her canvasses, NGIE translates this inner world into highly stylised human figures, resulting in powerful representations of human feelings. Sometimes, multiple facets of herself appear at the same time, playing out their conflicts like characters in ancient myths.