My portfolio consists of two of my most recent series: “Cultural Crosscurrents and the Unconscious Mind” and “Cultural Crosscurrents and Vulnerability.”
“Cultural Crosscurrents and the Unconscious Mind”
This series is rooted in my cross-cultural identity and is motivated by my fascination of human emotional responses to social turmoil and political strife. It comprises of figurative paintings. The impetus, values/palette, gestures and compositions of this series are derived from Dark Romanticism and Symbolism. These art movements were bore as responses to the horrors of war, political conflicts and social absurdities. These movements had also been rooted in the psychology of the unconscious mind, mystery and spirituality -- similar drivers to my own inquiry. In this series, I also seek to redefine my cultural identity and expressions in my art practice. I spent my formative years in Hong Kong and Singapore, at the confluence of both Asian and Western cultures. This series marks my first foray (and the beginning of my quest) to blend Asian aesthetics and Western traditional art forms.
“The Nightmare” (Fuseli, 1781), “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters” (Goya, 1799), and the horrifying scenes of dreams depicted by Dark Romantics and Symbolists had inspired this series. Through the use of both oil and acrylic, my pieces create a dreamlike quality using a palette similar to those of Dark Romantics. However, I have replaced traditional depictions of witches and monsters with ominous-looking Chinese opera masks and Chinese cultural symbols to depict cultural tensions and a perceived threat of the mysterious East. The colors in the Chinese opera masks hold different meanings. Most notably, all of them are either hidden or distorted in the paintings to make them more ambiguous and foreboding. Each painting also features an angelic statue; all of them but one were inspired by statues found in cemeteries – signifying death.
“Cultural Crosscurrents and Vulnerability”
This series is motivated by my fascination of human vulnerability and emotional responses to chaos and loss. I am also seeking to redefine and reconcile my cultural identity and expressions through this series by blending Asian aesthetics and Western abstract expressionism.
In the series, I explore gestures, lines, shapes, and colors using mixed media (i.e., ink, pastel, and acrylic). My choice of materials represents the fragility and transiency of human (and natural) life. I find non-representational abstraction to be conducive to expressing deeper and more profound feelings. These abstract forms traverse cultural barriers and visible boundaries to create a sense of universality and pluralism, providing a nonpartisan language for emotional and spiritual quests. I use free-flowing lines, active brush strokes, overlapping layers, and gestures reminiscent of Chinese calligraphy to create a mix of Chinese and Western forms in capturing the dynamic movements and tensions in nature.
My art practice has continued to evolve over time from predominately figurative to more abstract, as well as experimenting with different ways to combine Asian and Western symbols and artistic expressions.
Photographs from movie scenes/sets and old photographs of China and Hong Kong in the 1940s-1960s had inspired many of my earlier works. I had grown up across three continents (Hong Kong, Singapore, UK and the US). Personally, the 1940s/60s were the era when my grandparents established their roots in Hong Kong and when my parents grew up to reach young adulthood. Hence there is often a sense of nostalgia and idealism of that particular era. I had used images from Zhang Yimou’s and Wong Kar-Wai’s movies (e.g., House of Flying Daggers, 2046, In the Mood for Love) as creative stimuli. Fan Ho’s black-and-white photographs in the Hong Kong Yesterday and The Living Theatre series had particularly inspired my paintings as well.