Hilarie HON: Sunlight Murmur 韓幸霖 《日光絮語》
Hilarie HON 韓幸霖
6 May - 3 June, 2023
Developing from the creative direction of her previous exhibition, Hon’s new exhibition showcases multifarious surreal landscapes. Unpredictable and constantly changing, the landscapes depicted in Hon’s paintings exude a strong sense of alienation and melancholy, another world severed from that of the exhibition space. The unspecified characters and events in the paintings constitute recurring scenes on the pictorial surface which are at once familiar and strange; some repeated motifs include the various states of sunrise and sunset, a smothering house, a man in a hat, a sailing boat in the sea, misty rain and rose-tinted clouds.
With strong colour contrasts, Hon’s works place more emphasis on the overall impression of represented objects through the transition of colours and shades, than their form and meaning. The clouds in the sky are rendered as a massive colour field, inconstant like flowing water, making it difficult for the viewer to tell the time of day. Sometimes it is the darkening sky before the storm, the sense of humidity and apprehension in the air as disaster approaches. Instead of the high contrast colour schemes often found in her previous works, such as oranges and blues, a distinct middle tone can be discerned in her new works in this exhibition. Through the layering of translucent contrasting colours, a middle tone is achieved when viewed from a distance, in which traces of various colours can be distinguished when viewed up close. The complementary colours create a more calm and smooth atmosphere, and a sense of subtlety and ambiguity.
Light has always been an integral part of Hon’s works. Since a young age, the artist has been fascinated by watching the sea. The light waves floating on the surface of the sea constitute a significant part of the artist’s creative development. ‘Sunlight murmur’ refers to the visual experience after a considerable time observing the reflection of light waves on the sea surface, when certain noises appear in the eyes, lightwaves in the form of falling rain, like hearing the murmurings of the sunlight. In Hon’s works, light manifests in different forms; it may be light sources such as sun and fire, or reflected light such as clouds and light waves in the water.
Always highlighted by the artist, the ‘frame’ of the work forms a clear boundary between the painting and the viewer, creating a sense of distance where viewers seem to be watching a stage performance or a film screening from the auditorium. However, within the painting, the boundary between internal and external space is deliberately blurred, and the figures in the paintings are often placed along the margins, as if looking out of a window/the pictorial surface at the view and viewers beyond. Instead of being hung on the wall, numerous paintings are installed in wooden boxes, outside the ‘framework’ of a conventional exhibition setting, and infiltrate into the viewer’s space, becoming a three-dimensional installation that can interact with the viewers. The plain appearance of the wooden box also makes it easy to integrate into spaces of different natures. When closed, the paintings within exist as a separate spatial world. Consistent with the artist’s previous practice, Hon’s wooden boxes appear in different forms, with two wooden doors, just like the TV cabinets once popular in the past, where images are shut off from the space by the closing of the wooden doors. In this exhibition, copper plates are added onto these wooden cabinet-box-frames, whose metallic tone enriches the colours of the paintings and serves as a decorative detail for the frames.