‘Phases of Matter’ showcases the recent works of the three artists: Blending figurative and abstract elements to create symbols, Ashlee Ip achieves in her works a delicate balance of chaos and order; using paint as a language to express her connection with the natural world; Jeremy Ip sees himself as a tool and medium for his paintings, with which to deepen his perception of life and increase his awareness beyond social symbols, Sammi Mak invites viewers to enter and immerse in the realm of her artwork. Each in their own unique visual languages of abstraction and personal approaches to the medium, the three young artists create paintings with complex compositions, colours and forms.
Ashlee Ip has developed a unique process-driven approach to her art, which blends figurative and abstract elements to create works that are both symbolic and abstract. Through the interaction of semi-inherent objects, Ip’s paintings achieve a delicate balance of chaos and order, depth and density, colour and imagery. Her compositions are intricate, and the numerous small brushstrokes she employs absorb and blend to create a sense of harmony and flow that belies the conflicting situations depicted. In her paintings, Ip eschews the physical form of objects in favour of expressing their essence through flowing forms such as water, mist, or mousse. The various elements in her paintings shape a sense of direction and course that guides the viewer’s gaze. This approach allows her to create a symbolic connection to a particular state while leaving the interpretation open-ended, enabling the viewer to form a unique explanation based on their experiences and associations.
The series ‘Jellyland’ was born from a moment of trance, when exhaustive repetition and monotony cause the mind to wander. The ‘Across the Waters of Sai Kung’ series is the only one in this exhibition that depicts real life scenes. The early hours of Sai Kung are shrouded in darkness, while the sky above the sea on the other side is infused with layers of blue light, reminiscent of the aurora borealis. Whether this mysterious scene is linked to astronomical phenomena or solely the result of pollution is uncertain, but Ip’s painting captures the beauty and intrigue of this natural wonder. Jeremy Ip regards his creation as a holistic, continuous practice. Through painting, Ip deepens his perception of life, increasing awareness of things beyond their social symbols. Believing that the artist is both tool and medium of the artwork, which is a by-product of the two, the relationship between the artist and artwork is therefore the same with all things in the universe: a phenomenon, a state of returning to nature. As human, situated between the man-made city and nature, Ip reconciles the differences and conflicts between the two, looking for the natural balance and embracing the unexpected. Avoiding normative forms and rational thinking, an excessive control over the image, Ip creates and adds onto the canvas images of uncertainty, responding to the unexpected, showing a state of thinking and existence between contradiction, limitation and balance, resisting ‘effectiveness’ and the preordained course of things.
Looking from an extremely distant point of view, all things in Ip’s paintings, tangible or intangible, are by-products derived from a set of common rules or spirit, whose traces are identifiable. As a human subject, the artist interacts with all things, and the distance between them changes. Ip tries to accept and embrace this natural state when he creates. Through the repetitive acts and movements of painting, the artist returns to the present, smooths out the wandering thoughts in the image, leaving the materials, colours, shapes and shadows to naturally form dialogues in response to the artist’s thoughts, reflecting their record as material. Ip hopes that the images would offer the viewers a site where they can relax; through visual massage, they can forget the passage of time, pause and quietly blend into the appreciation of a half-full space, and engage in a dialogue with themselves.
Sammi Mak uses paint as a language to express her experiences, perceptions, and connection with the natural world and external environment. Her paintings depict her experience in reality and connection with the universe, manifesting how painterliness stands in for language. A sense of openness is created through the fluidity and intuition of paint to stimulate the viewers’ senses, while blank spaces invite viewers to enter the realm of her artwork. Her works are an abstraction of emotions and experiences that engage viewers to connect emotions and the beauty of poetic prose and linguistics through painting.
Inspired by poetry, especially Anne Carson’s translation of ancient Greek poetess Sappho’s verses, Mak’s recent works reduce direct depictions, allowing different materials such as rabbit skin glue, pigment, and oil to mix freely on the canvas, creating various layers and visual effects. Mak invents a system of painted lexicology that communicates her perception of the outside world delving into the realm of poetry by replacing linguistics with visual forms of communication. The paintings’ titles are inspired by poetry that explores intimacy and being beyond oneself, such as Ekstasis and Separation Itself Is Only An Illusion, which describe our connection with the beauty of nature throughout history and humankind.