The Hong Kong-born artist Wong Ping is making waves with his witty, explicit animation videos that touch upon themes such as sexual repression, globalisation, twisted morality and the shortcomings of technology. His retro-pop videos include Stop Peeping (2014), which relates how a voyeuristic young man collects the sweat of a female neighbour that he turns into an ice lolly, and Who’s the Daddy (2017), a story about a man obsessed with the shape and size of his penis who tells his experience of meeting women on dating apps.
“I always describe my work as my diary. So you could say that I forgot to lock the diary and let people look in. It’s all about sucking in stuff from society, from the internet, from people around me,” the artist says. “The works do not serve a single topic. It is actually like a mirror reflecting ridiculous moments from different angles.”
This unconventional take on life caught the attention of a panel of judges awarding a new annual prize at Frieze art fair in London last year. The inaugural Camden Arts Centre Emerging Artist Prize offers younger artists the opportunity to exhibit at the eponymous north London gallery. “Ping’s work is liberating and perversely honest, a cathartic twist on the trials of daily life,” the judges said.
“My working process is like a stand-up comedian’s—they have punchlines [but] also reflect on social issues” Wong Ping
Wong’s new London show straddles two spaces: Camden Arts Centre and an off-site exhibition space on Cork Street in Mayfair. “The artist will create new installations that contextualise the digital materiality of his films with sculptural objects that speak to the mass production of the consumer market,” the gallery says in a statement.
There will be two works from the Fables animation series (2018-19) on show in the Cork Street venue, with older works at Camden. “The installation Boner (2019) [a rotating head in the shape of a heart] will be shown in the reading room in Camden. I might dig a deep hole in the garden there [to insert works],” Wong says.
One of the Fables works focuses on a tree trunk with an insect phobia and a chicken addicted to social media. So where does the absurdity come from? “My working process is like a stand-up comedian’s; they try to gather material and write a story for an hour-long show,” Wong says. “They have punchlines and, at the end, they also reflect on social issues. They focus on humanity; that’s how they work.”
Wong studied multimedia design at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, after failing the university entrance exam in Hong Kong. “I guess I like Australia but the language barriers changed me into a quiet person,” he says. He began a career in broadcasting before founding the Wong Ping Animation Lab in 2014. His exhibition earlier this year at the Kunsthalle Basel, which included the single-channel animations Fables 1 and Fables 2, was called Golden Shower.
Asked why sex is a preoccupation in his work, he says: “There is always sex stuff in our daily lives. Studies say that porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined. So sex stuff is actually very ordinary.” And is there scope for working in other media in the future? “I think animation is still my favourite medium; it allows me to say whatever I want and have more control,” he says. “But I have an interest in developing and trying different media, like making objects.”
• Wong Ping: Heart Digger, Camden Arts Centre and off-site exhibition space on Cork Street, London, 5 July-15 September