Three Hong Kong artists in the spotlight
Straight from the studio
By Robin Peckham. From Art Basel Hong Kong daily edition
Published online: 22 May 2013
Chow Chun Fai was one of the earliest Hong Kong artists to gain widespread attention for his paintings of Hong Kong movie scenes replete with subtitles and blurred watermarks. Recently he has been more concerned with depicting political figures in televised speeches and interviews, a subject matter that has evolved along with his own political activity. Chow is the chairman of the Factory Artists Concern Group, which campaigns for the rights of artists with studios in industrially zoned buildings, and he recently stood (unsuccessfully) for election to the seat on the Hong Kong Legislative Council representing, in theory if not in practice, the culture sector.
Kwan Sheung Chi has produced many of his videos in the kitchen of his home, stating that his practice is more amenable to “kitchen visits” than to studio visits. His videos often play with this setting to great advantage: doing it with Chi... making an Exit Bag (2009) finds the artist using the utensils and household materials around him to engineer a homemade suicide device. Now living and working in a village deep in the New Territories, Kwan also views the life of the artist as a way of defining alternatives to social norms, without the archetypal studio space.
Trevor Yeung often uses materials that derive from his interest in botany, aquariums and aquatic horticulture, creating environments out of plants and decorative natural substances that require the physical space of the studio, despite the fact that conception and articulation far outweigh the notion of craft within his work. As one of the youngest artists making his mark now (he was born in 1988), Yeung is more interested in the spatial allowances of the studio than in the temporal dimension of time spent inside of the studio that occupies many of his peers, potentially signalling the beginning of the end of the studio-as-symbol.
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