All posts filed under: Studio

Nadim Abbas

By Elliat Albrecht / This June, a photo circulated on social media of a small group Hong Kong-based artists, writers and gallerists standing outside the Congress Center in Basel, Switzerland. Away from Hong Kong for Art Basel and concurrent projects, they showed their support for demonstrators at home with handwritten signs decrying the proposed extradition bill. Nadim Abbas was among them; the artist was in Basel for his solo show Poor Toy at Vitrine (June 11 – August 25), which referenced the horror and banality of domesticity through sculptures including vacuum cleaners and hacked Ikea furniture. We met in July after he’d returned to Hong Kong. Abbas lives and works in a flat not far from the University of Hong Kong, where he earned his MPhil in 2006. He suggested sitting near his computer where it was brighter; the afternoon sun streamed through the windows onto wall-to-wall bookshelves – fitting for an artist who often references methodically researched science fiction, psychology and philosophy in his work – keyboards, several guitars and a piano with the lid closed. We …

Vvzela Kook

By Christie Lee / I’d expected a philosophical explanation for Hong Kong artist Vvzela Kook’s quirky name, but it turns out that it was all due to a technicality. The artist had wanted to call herself vuvuzela, after the African horn, but on realising the domain name was taken, took out the two “u”s.   Kook’s art, however, is rather better thought out. Research is key to her artistic process. During our conversation, she repeatedly describes her works as projects rather than videos or installations, and says she spends the bulk of her time reading, researching and mapping the details of her projects in her mind. It’s similar to the artistic process of fellow Hong Kong artist Samson Young, for whom Kook works as an assistant. Born in Dalian, a port city on the southern tip of Liaoning province in northern China, the 29 year old received her BA from Hangzhou University before reading for a MA in Creative Media at City University in Hong Kong. We chatted at her new studio in Ngau Tau …

Isaac Chong Wai

By Caroline Ha Thuc / A multimedia artist known for his performances in public spaces, Isaac Chong Wai (b.1990) explores the relativity and ambiguities of our collective norms and values, inviting us to rethink our experiences of daily life and our physical presence within society. As he exhibits a soft wall unable to stand by itself, a boat made with fences that takes on water, or inefficient, arty policemen, Chong’s practice questions the construction of our modes of representation. Time, history and the imprint of the past and even of a future-to-be also seem to haunt the artist, who constantly breaks the linear perception of temporality with re-enactment, dreams and slow-motion gestures. Caroline Ha Thuc: This time, you are coming back to Hong Kong with quite a personal exhibition, Is the world your friend?, where you mix your own experience as a victim of aggression with today’s representations and manifestations of violence. Isaac Chong Wai: People often think there’s a gap between personal and social issues. Is art a way to put them together? When …

Oscar Chan Yik Long

By Christie Lee Hong Kong artist Oscar Chan Yik Long talks demons, horror films and his big move to the City of Lights  Chatting with Oscar Chan Yik Long at a coffee shop on D’Aguilar Street, Central, it’s hard to imagine that the sunny artist, decked out in one of his trademark vibrantly patterned shirts, lives his life haunted by demons.  Born in Hong Kong in 1988, Chan studied at Hong Kong Baptist University’s Academy of Visual Arts but it was an “abstract” fear of demons, planted in the artist’s mind when he was still a young boy, that weighs most heavily on his paintings. As much as he fears and is repelled by fear, he is also drawn to it. In his art, screaming skeletons, amorphous beasts and ghoulish, tear- or blood-shedding creatures fill walls and life-sized canvases. “I need to give fear a form,” he says.  Chaotic and unabashedly confessional, they’re the portraits of a tangled mind that vacillates between fearing and repelling these creatures, and being drawn towards them. We sat down with Chan …

Chris Huen Sin Kan

By Elliat Albrecht As a painter and in person, Chris Huen Sin Kan is far beyond his years. His intuitive paintings look less like those of a 27-year-old and more like those of an artist who’s had several decades to hone his visual language, arriving at a mature and idiosyncratic style of painting. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Huen has been drawing since he was a small child, and earned a BA from The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). Made with fluid and sometimes staccato brushstrokes, his paintings are characterised by their quotidian content and sketch-like quality; Huen achieves this aesthetic in part by thinning down his oils with turpentine until they appear almost like watercolours. The bare canvas shows through in many places on his paintings; the viewer is left to fill in the blanks of negative space like a word game. These gaps in perception are fundamental to Huen’s philosophy: rather than painting direct representations or his memories, he is concerned with exploring the fragmented experience of looking. With a restrained …

Annie Wan

By Katherine Volk  Hong Kong artist Annie Wan is known for her conceptual approach to ceramics and moulding. Her exhibition Zan Baak Fo, part of the Jockey Club New Arts Power programme, and an extension of her 11th Gwangju Biennale presentation Everyday a Rainbow (2016), took place across two Hong Kong locations: a grocery store in Ping Shek Estate, Choi Hung and an old art gallery in Sheung Wan. In Choi Hung Wan displayed the ceramics alongside real supermarket items, while in Sheung Wan they were on clean shelves in a white-walled gallery. The two contrasting venues played with the idea of the value of art, with pieces sold in both locations at the price of the original moulded item. The title of the exhibition comes from the Cantonese phoneme zan, which can mean both precious and authentic. Wan’s work has been acquired by private collectors and institutions including the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, Hong Kong Museum of Art, the Burger Collection and the UK’s University of Salford Art Collection. She has had residencies in …

Chow Chun Fai

By Elliat Albrecht I want my identity back, China is not ruled by Chinese anyway, History can be changed, Our city changed irrevocably and You think a Hong Kong triad can outlive a Mainland businessmen? make up a few of the subtitles of the paintings of film stills for which artist Chow Chun Fai is known. Chow’s politics are hardly concealed in these works, for which he skilfully recreates mises-en-scene from Hong Kong and mainland Chinese films, including snippets of dialogue that allude to aspects of the Sino-Hong Kong relationship. Isolated, removed and rendered in paint, the subtitles lay bare their connotations of authority, nationalism, localism and fear, ringing in the ears and revealing the filmic medium as an expression of both social concern and soft power. Active in performance, Chow is also chairman of the Fotanian Artist Village. Five years ago he made an unsuccessful run in the Hong Kong Legislative Council election in the Sports, Performing Arts, Culture and Publication constituency. His works were recently on view in Tale of the Wonderland at Blindspot Gallery (September 19 to November 11, 2017), a group exhibition that constructs …

Map Office

For more than 20 years, Valérie Portefaix and Laurent Gutierrez, known together as Map Office, have been working in the field of art and architecture with a rhizomatic approach, exploring both the reality and the mythology of territories. They represented Hong Kong at the Venice Biennale in 2007 and and won the Sovereign Asian Art Prize in 2013. Artomity: For this Venice Biennial, you are presenting an exhibition, seminar and book launch about the deep sea, working with both artists and others whose work involves the ocean, who write about their relationship with it. What triggered this idea? Map Office: Our project in Venice has to be seen as a meeting platform around the theme of the ocean. An Ocean Archive is the title of the exhibition, and of our research at large on oceans and islands, implemented last year during Art Basel within the Open Platform programme at the Asia Art Archive. Along with the exhibition, we are launching the first part of the archive as Our Ocean Guide with Venice publishers Lightbox. The book …

Tang Kwok Hin

By Caroline Ha Thuc Born and educated in Hong Kong, Tang Kwok Hin keeps questioning his background, and systematically looks with suspicion at the immediate environment around him. A conceptual artist and a very fine draughtsman, he uses ready-mades and collages with the aim of decomposing reality, mixing fiction with in-depth research and personal stories. After concentrating on everyday objects, which he tried to deprive of the social meanings and functions attached to them, he has recently expanded his exploration of the discrepancy between objects’ packaging and their contents to the whole of society, considering rules, laws and traditions as wrappings and containers, allowing for very different contents. Caroline Ha Thuc: When we met after the Umbrella Movement, you said that you felt your practice had to become more political. Two years later, and after Needs, a solo show at Gallery Exit that functioned almost like a retrospective, how has the movement affected your work? Tang Kwok Hin: This exhibition helped me review my path of growth in life and art.Somehow my practice shifted very quickly after the events …

Samson Young

Trained in classical music composition at Princeton University in the US, Samson Young’s works are often reactions to his own musical background. His approach to sound, both as a visual artist and as a composer, is very specific, an attitude that has led him away from predetermined frameworks. From musical compositions to performances, installations, new-media work and drawing, he plays freely with media to create a language that fits his investigations. Caroline Ha Thuc: Your practice revolves around sound at a symbolic level, tackling the concept of borders and lines, both literally and metaphorically. Was that a clear direction that you defined at an early stage? Samson Young: The trajectory is rather like this: I started with narrow things that dealt with the cultural politics of my classical music and my identity, and this led to issues such as borders, lines of control and national territories. Then, from the Liquid Borders project on, I began to realise that the issue was not only about lines of control but rather about how people coexist and how this coexistence involves …