TANG Kwong San is known for his mixed media work combining elements including photographic images, line drawings, pre-existing objects and videos. The artist explores his identity and personal memories through his work and integrates into it related historical elements. Surrounding the theme of night and darkness, his new series plays with the symbolic meanings of the five-pointed star. Through appropriation and reinterpretation of international films and historical documents as well as capturing late-night street scenes that caught his attention, he touches on the topics of identity, power and migration in his oil paintings, graphite drawings and installations.
Large-scale paintings “Fragrant Dracaena, carousel” and “Furniture, potted plants” capture the curious quotidian beauty of the waste collection points close to his home and studio. The scenes he randomly discovered embody change, migration and memories of a bygone era. One of them shows a carousel horse dumped in the dark, its pole crowned with a star; the other portrays scrap furniture and potted plants scattered all over the ground.
“London Bridge is Falling Down” is a mixed media installation whose central wooden pillar connects the ceiling of the gallery with a tank filled with water. Moulded pottery figurines modelled after toy birds are trapped in the tank, while at the bottom of it is a book “The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland” being pressed down by the pillar. The nursery rhyme “London Bridge is Falling Down” is mentioned in the book, its various versions pointing to the history behind it regarding the monarchy, prisoners and a superstitious idea of burying children in the foundations to ensure the safety of the bridge. Similarly, the young fledglings of our society are drowned in the savage reality like sacrificial offerings.
The “Night Birds” series rearranges and transforms pre-existing texts and images centring around nonfiction work “Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea”. The artist extracted excerpts from the book about six North Korean defectors living under the Communist regime and how they crossed the border on moonless nights. Images were transferred onto cotton cloth using the cyanotype technique – paradoxically under the sun. On the other hand, graphite on paper drawings were mounted behind sepia acrylic films to give them an appearance of old film negatives.