Rossi & Rossi is pleased to announce The Strangeness of her Narratives, an exhibition featuring four Hong Kong artists: Zaffer Chan, Eastman Cheng, Joey Leung and Wong Yeeki. The presentation explores the creative practice of each artist through their work in mediums ranging from painting and drawing to video and installation. This is the second exhibition curated by Alexandra Choa for Rossi & Rossi Hong Kong.
Harnessing a sense of freedom, pleasure and escape–whether reflecting everyday surroundings, cultural influences or attempts to bring fictional characters to life–the works exhibited align along the principle of play, the impetus for Choa’s selection. Varied in form, abstraction and style, the trope is revealed either through subject matter, the art-making process or both.
An artist known for pushing the boundries of traditional Chinese ink art, Zaffer Chan contributes works from several series to the exhibition. Dreamcatcher III (2018), captures the essence of dreams: a spiderweb of mandala patterns hangs in mid-air, whilst bubbles–conjuring memories of childhood–float inside. Chan’s ‘dream bubbles’ are made of ink and soap pressed onto paper. Polaris No. 6 and Polaris No. 7 (2018), continue the artist’s investigation into decorative ink painting. These are produced on screens made of paper and blocks, connected by paper hinges that can lie flat or open to form a star-shaped base. Their dark blue patches are painted in gold, illustrating a series of constellations, each referencing images that exist in our galaxy.
Joey Leung’s intricate artwork, often rendered in ink and coloured pencil, is reminiscent of Chinese court paintings and traditional ink art, as well as those in the literati tradition and Japanese manga – a combination unified by the particularity of her narratives. Fragments of Time (2017) demonstrates the artist’s skilful technique and imagination. Its inscribed poem hints at the fantasy that underpins Leung’s work: melons become mountains under arching rainbows produced by hand mirrors and dispersed with clouds that emit from a smoking girl.
Eastman Cheng employs installation, sculpture and video to examine modern social and economic values. The premise of Cheng’s video Encouragement (2016–18) lies in the concept of nationalism. Set to the audio of familiar sounds or tunes from popular holiday destinations of people in Hong Kong, the work depicts the artist painting her nails using the primary colours of national flags to show the embodiment of a nation in an individual; bright colours depict vitality and solidarity, despite the misused power and violence a country may enforce.
The works of Wong Yeeki have multiple dimensions, perspectives and illustrations of the interactions of characters within a space-time illusion. Via the manipulation of ink and brush, created through doodling, the artist attempts to archive the vanity and significance of life (as well as its strife and harmony, uncertainty and eternity) thus illuminating the memory and cognition of a living being. For Wong, the world is like a musical with no harmony, filled with contradictions and accidents.
The artistic duo of Eastman Cheng and Joey Leung, known as Cold Ears Factory, showcase a group of works from their Hard and Soft Sculpture series (2012–on going). Featuring floral motifs glazed onto ceramic, the works convey a sense of elegance through their reference to traditional Chinese porcelain. Inspired by the forms and characteristics of various species, their sculptures incorporate a combination of fabrics in various hues, handcrafted ceramics and other materials. Each sculpture is paired with a photograph of a specific plant, providing a dual perspective of their subjects.
The Strangeness of her Narratives invites viewers to experience the idiosyncratic worlds of four Hong Kong artists who, through creation and output, exploit a richly imaginative vocabulary that is distinctly local, individual and contemporary.
Zaffer Chan Sui Ying (b. 1991) received her BA (2014) and MFA (2017) degrees from the Department of Fine Arts at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The artist delineates sentimental and spiritual scenery to symbolise and underpin the interrelation between humans and their nature. Marked by her delicate emotions and surrealistic arrangements of objects, her work captures the abnormalities, or transformations of the seasons, thus illustrating the ambiguity of our personal relationships. Chan has received several awards, including the Wucius Wong Modern Ink Painting Award, the Hong Kong Chinese Meticulous Painting Association Creative Award and the Grotto Fine Art award. She has also participated in various solo and group exhibitions in Hong Kong, Taipei, Korea and the Netherlands, and her works are included in Asian and European private collections.
Eastman Cheng (b. 1977) received her MFA and BA degrees from the Department of Fine Arts at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. After working as a product designer for three years, she began to enjoy making ‘mountains and rivers’ (a Chinese idiom for ‘landscapes’). In 2008, she started her Landscape Furniture series, featuring useless, fake furniture made to resemble a landscape familiar to all. Since then, her major exhibitions of Landscape Furniture have included works titled Swimming Pool (2009) and Gymnasium (2010). Cheng believes ‘objects’ are traces of human activity. The artist focuses on objects designed by others, thus transforming the works – according to her feelings and experiences – into a peculiar human landscape.
Joey Leung (b. 1976) received her BA in Fine Arts (2000) and MFA (2007) degrees from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Combining elements of traditional fine-brush painting and popular culture in her work, the artist explores the use of various mediums to illuminate the essence of Chinese painting in an attempt to push the boundaries of conventional painting. Leung also tries to subvert the interpretation of traditional images in the age of information abundance. Leung has participated in solo exhibitions, including Mollywood (Grotto Fine Art, Hong Kong, 2018) and Series of ‘Photo-Mirror’: Japan (Aquvii TOKYO, Tokyo, Japan, 2013) as well as the following group exhibitions: Walking in the Dreams (Hong Kong Heritage Museum, 2015), Homeroom (Subtext Gallery, San Diego, USA, 2011), Octopus: Nine Contemporary Artists from Hong Kong (Hanina, Tel Aviv, Israel, 2011), Legacy and Creations: Ink Art vs Ink Art (Hong Kong Museum of Art, 2011) and The Pivotal Decade: Hong Kong Art 1997–2007 (Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester, UK, 2007), amongst others.
Wong Yeeki (b. 1991) received her BA (2010) and MFA (2013) degrees from the Department of Fine Arts at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Specialising in Chinese gongbi painting, she has taken part in various international exhibitions, both in Hong Kong and overseas, including the London Art Fair (2014), the Premio Combat Prize exhibition, Livorno (2015), Ink Asia, Hong Kong (2017), Fine Art Asia, Hong Kong (2017) and Art Basel, Hong Kong (2018), amongst others. Wong believes that ‘art’ is beauty that surpasses boundaries and definitions, and that through personal stories and the imagination of individuals the soul of mankind can be nourished and educated. The artist’s works have been collected by European and Asian private collectors.
Cold Ears Factory
Established by Eastman Cheng and Joey Leung in 2009, Cold Ears Factory is both an artist collective and the ‘brand name’ of the group’s collaborative artworks. Together, the members create artworks with materials that are outside of their usual individual practices.