Author: Caroline Ha Thuc

Sharon Lee

Sharon Lee’s practice explores and questions photography as a medium. Inspired by her family life and by the everyday, the Hong Kong artist experiments with various techniques, textures and materials to mould the blurry remains of memory, poetically capturing the slippery layers of time. Her work revolves around the notions of absence and disappearance as tangible and often constructed presences. Caroline Ha Thuc: From the start, you have explored photography in association with various modes of printing, including ceramics. Where does that come from? Sharon Lee: I use photography; meanwhile I do not conform to photography. I embrace alternative image-making as a form of negotiation, not necessarily with a single photograph but with the history, culture, art, science and technology that it carries.  I started photography when I found myself with no resources for art making – no studio, no art supplies but a 55-sq-ft shared bedroom. I find the medium a great tool to construct a visual reality. It frames and unframes, hides and reveals simultaneously. I was in Vienna for an academic exchange year …

Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Six years after his first solo exhibition at Para Site, Apichatpong Weerasethakul has come back to Hong Kong to present his recent artworks at Kiang Malingue Gallery. The Thai artist and film director has played with the gallery’s unusual architecture, filling its high ceilings and empty spaces with haunting presences, widening hitherto invisible fault lines and holes from which the mind can easily flee away. Conceived as a calm, meditative exhibition, A Planet of Silence gathers an incredibly rich array of works from different series, reflecting the multiple experimental approaches of the artist’s practice.  It opens with A Minor History (2021), Apichatpong’s recent series of photographs taken in Isan, Thailand’s northeastern region and the artist’s homeland. He travelled there during Covid, along the Mekong River, staying in different hotel rooms that he photographed. The departure point of his journey was a piece of news about the murder of two political dissidents, whose bodies were found in the river. However, many more issues coalesce in this eerie series, which portraits the Mekong as a witness and …

Jaffa Lam 林嵐

Chasing an Elusive Nature / Axel Vervoordt Gallery / Hong Kong / 15 Oct 2022 – 7 Jan 2023 / A long piece of dark wood welcomes visitors at the entrance of the gallery. Like a totem, or the unique remnant of a larger structure, A Piece of Silence from Lying (2022) simply stands on the floor, vertically, as if abandoned. Its delicate, carved lines suggest the fluidity of running water, as if frozen or trapped in its flow. Created from a recycled pine crate, it epitomises Jaffa Lam’s attempts at magnifying the mundane and revealing the fundamental mutability of matter. Her first solo exhibition at Axel Vervoordt Gallery explores the porosity and transformations of media, as a metaphor for the human quest for identity and a sense of belonging. Immediately, there is a large installation, flooded by the window light. Taishang LaoJun’s Furnace (2022) resembles a graveyard, with hundreds of small volcanic stones aligned on dark soil. On closer inspection, the rocks turn out to be made of aluminium, bronze and concrete, all moulded from …

Zheng Mahler

Daisy Bisenieks and Royce Ng settled down on Lantau Island in 2013 and established themselves as the Zheng Mahler collective in 2015. Their multimedia, cross-disciplinary, research-based practice mainly investigates the history of Asian commercial relations, trade routes and systems of power from economic, geopolitical, social and cultural perspectives. Recently, with their research about virtual reality and computational theories of mind, they focus on the possibility of human beings embracing non-human experiences and expanding their cognitive abilities.  Caroline Ha Thuc: Neither of you are from Hong Kong but the city, as a trading hub but also a unique ecosystem, is at the core of your practice. Royce Ng: I was born in Australia but my parents come from Hong Kong. Daisy is Australian with an Eastern European background and we met in Melbourne in 2005. We decided to move to Hong Kong as a starting point to working on a commissioned project for the Johann Jacobs Museum in Zurich about the economic relationships between Asia and Africa. We were asked to explore this topic given our background …

Annie Wan Lai-kuen 尹麗娟

As embodiments of a fleeting, volatile reality, Annie Wan’s ceramics reflect the artist’s attempts to defy time and capture the ephemeral. Focusing on the everyday and on the intrinsic qualities of her medium, Wan plays with the paradoxical fragility of ceramics and on their ability to give tangible forms to lost moments, collective heritage or vanishing memories. With the idea that reality is subject to successive reinterpretations, she uses the language of ceramics to question the reiterative process of perception, and the reproduction of reproductions, searching for points of resistance against a truth that has slipped out of our grasp. You told me that you first studied design before jumping into art and ceramics. What triggered the change? I am not a person with a clear plan for my life path; I usually follow my intuition. I studied design after secondary school and then worked as a textile designer for a few years. Although I enjoyed the textile design job, I wanted to have some new experiences. Therefore, in 1989, I studied studio ceramics part …

Law Yuk Mui

There Is No One Singing on the River /Oil Street Art Space, Oi! / Dec 12 – Jul 31, 2022 / There Is No One Singing on the River relates Law Yuk Mui’s experience and fieldwork along the Ng Tung River, located in Hong Kong’s northeastern New Territories. The river drains a large area and flows down on the western slope of Wong Leng, going underground in some parts of its lower course, irrigating Lau Shui Heung and Hok Tau reservoirs. Since the 1990s, its natural landscape has been radically modified due to flood control projects. Its catchment is very wide and its trajectory difficult to map out. Furthermore, the river has many names, changing as it meets various branches and tributaries. It even used to be called the Indus River, thanks to South Asian surveyors during the colonial period. Rather than trying to grasp this elusive, complex reality, Law reflects on her working methodology and proposes a very open interpretation of her journey. Based on her investigation, sound recording and mapping of the river, …

Wing Po So 蘇詠寶

Wing Po So’s studio is tiny and very tidy: between a large collection of shells, dried molluscs and plants, various other species rest on shelves in glass jars, all properly labelled. The Hong Kong artist, who grew up in a family of Chinese medicine practitioners, also surrounds herself with essential books about Chinese medicine, including a two-volume work dating from the Ming dynasty. Her practice confronts this scientific background with her personal observation of nature, as she transforms and creates organic yet surreal sculptures and installations. Caroline Ha Thuc: You grew up spending a lot of time in your parents’ traditional Chinese medicine shop in Hong Kong, and this family background plays an important part in your art practice. When and why did you decide to draw from this experience and to become an artist? Wing Po So: It was due to the closure of our family’s shop in Soho [in 2012]. I spent all my childhood in this medicine shop and in the neighborhood. Several months after the closure, my parents decided to rebuild …

Rodel Tapaya 羅德爾·塔帕亞

Random Numbers, the new exhibition by Filipino artist Rodel Tapaya, depicts a chaotic, dense reality where a multitude of fragmented objects and living creatures entwine and decompose. Inspired by Filipino and Mexican mural painters, but also by surrealist artists, Tapaya draws a carnivalesque portrait of the Philippines and, beyond, of our contemporary societies driven by excesses and never-ending consumption. Born in 1980 in Montalban, in the Philippines’s Rizal province, Tapaya is known for his neo-traditional paintings inspired by Philippine mythology, folk tales and beliefs, which he converts into allegories for our times. Scrap Paintings, the artist’s new series of works, is a departure from this, instead focusing on the concept of disaggregation. The nine paintings presented at Tang Contemporary Art are based on relatively small collages from magazine cut-outs, mostly from the National Geographic, that the artist enlarges and turns into acrylic works on canvas. He uses different coloured whiteboard markers to erase some pigments from the original images, playing with their glossy surfaces and printing ink to obtain various textural effects. This primary material is thus …

LeeLee Chan 陳麗同

Born in 1984 in Hong Kong, LeeLee Chan is well known for sculptural installations that transform discarded mass-produced objects from daily life into hybrid and often organic forms. For Chan, there is no discontinuity between the human, natural and technological spheres; she has developed a holistic approach to the world and to society. Art allows her to connect these realms creatively, opening up new and sometimes surprising perspectives on our urban environment. Caroline Ha Thuc: You left Hong Kong at the age of 17 to study in the United States and you spent 13 years abroad, including two in the UK, before coming back in 2015. How did this journey shape your work?LeeLee Chan: I guess it changed my perspective on Hong Kong and how I now appreciate my family’s heritage. My parents are antique dealers, and I grew up surrounded by Chinese antiques, yet I did not fully appreciate them until I came back. I am also more open to the urban environment I am now living in, in Kwai Chung, and I have been reflecting on its …

Ng Tsz-kwan 吳子昆

A multimedia artist and designer, Ng Tsz-kwan (b.1972) proposes various and reflexive modes of artistic experience based on a poetics of language that unfolds at the borderline of performance. Ng graduated from The Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, and later earned his master’s at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. In 2006, he co-founded multimedia design company Yucolab. His artistic practice draws from these experiences yet also departs from them. It mainly develops in two experimental directions: immersive, multisensory installations and space-oriented installations based on decontextualised, fragmented moving images. For Ng, “What we see is how we see”. His installations often question and explore the medium of the cinema and the relationships that the audience entertains with moving images in order to open up the space between them. Recently, he created an automated mobile chair that travels along a railway track within the exhibition space, a way for viewers to encounter his works while in motion, on a journey he controls. He disengages from narratives and linear …