Elpis CHOW 周紫羚：The Other Side《另一面》
Elpis CHOW 周紫羚
The Other Side《另一面》
6 November – 4 December, 2021
Gallery EXIT presents ‘The Other Side’, a solo exhibition by Elpis Chow, which will run from 6 November to 4 December, 2021. An opening will be held on Saturday, 6 November from 2pm to 5pm.
This exhibition showcases a series of oil paintings in different formats made recently. The works feature the people, street corners, buildings, construction sites, landscapes and objects encountered by the artist in real life, with special attention to the effects of various media and materials on canvas, and how different colours and visual elements are rearranged in the pictorial world. Most of the scenes depicted in the works are nondescript places and corners which evoke a sense of familiarity but also that of strangeness. Hence they are akin to mirror images: While they may be a reflection of reality, they are not reality itself.
Compared to the works in Chow’s previous solo exhibition ‘Blunt’ (2018) which portrayed the surrounding scenery in a more subdued manner, works in this exhibition appear more ‘realistic’. In the paintings, the lines of the buildings are straight and smooth, resembling three-dimensional building models. Adopting the architect’s method, the artist paints real buildings in realistic proportions, inserting at the same time some seemingly ordinary items rendered in different brushstrokes and perspectives, which gives a feeling of things from an alien world being superimposed onto the pictorial world. Coupled with simple grey and bright, colourful shades, the straight and radiating lines recall comic books with frames in different shapes. The resulting surreal two-dimensional world is a mixture of realistic, abstract and comic styles, as well as various materials, textures and elements.
The long format work ‘Hidden’ is set in the Osaka Tennoji Zoo, also featured in the 2017 work ‘Background’ which depicted the front of an animal cage in a deep brown tone. The new work combines simple greys with vivid neons in a panoramic perspective. Parts of the scene are drawn from reality, while the two further ends are supplemented by the artist’s imagination. The background is represented in a flattened perspective, and the inside of the cage is replaced by a vast forest. Some architectural details are stitched onto the canvas to make them appear ‘three-dimensional’, but at the same time flatten the pictorial composition.
‘Coda’ another work in panoramic perspective, illustrates a space that bears resemblance to a housing estate parking lot in Hong Kong. With only a colour patch that designates the ground and no discernible light source, it is impossible to tell whether it is an indoor or outdoor space. Crisscrossing linear compositions create multiple focal points which are scattered across the same pictorial surface. Sometimes inconspicuous yet interesting details can be spotted, such as the hanger in the air-conditioning duct. On the central pane, a door is painted in detail, with special emphasis on the material. All characters in the painting are either placed in the rear or along the margins: In this work they exist as a kind of background, a part of the eternal landscape.
Framed in oval frames and hung on the wall like mirrors are numerous portraits of the acquaintances of the artist and several self-portraits. As Chow paints what she sees in these people, she is also fascinated by what is hidden from view. Seemingly familiar, the figures in the portraits also feel distant, like some abstract symbol, or a mirror image between reality and fantasy.