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31/10 London Trip

Updated: Nov 11, 2022

After tiring transit from west midlands to back to London, I catch up with the group being 30 mins late.

Still catching my breath (no it's a lie because I am a runner and I wasn't running), I found myself in front of abstract paintings by a Hong Kong artist! Kristy M Chan was born in 1997, honestly she could have been my classmate! Among the few of them, which are interesting, I particularly like this one. I don't know if it is a trend or what but I don't remember seeing the name of the work and signature on it.


Binge, Kristy M Chan - Simon Lee Gallery

This is a very large abstract painting (height >1m ?) , which should be oil on canvas. My eyes are drawn upper left corner first, and then to the right lower corner. The strokes on the upper left corner, and those almost perpendicular to them, making that part look like reflections of buildings on water. The "buildings" are colourful and look modern, they look like the ones back home in Hong Kong to me. I don't know what the yellow is trying to be, but the whole painting actually looks like a view of a little pond in a garden in a housing estate, which is very Hong Kong.

According to the introduction of artist provided by the gallery, it says the series of work is Binge, and they relate to Chan's "investigation into the relationship between one's surroundings and selfhood". Perhaps that is why I got the feeling of this is something Hong Kong. How the strokes are much more chaotic than the paint underneath is perhaps what impression urban landscape has engraved into our brain and this is the result of that busy image we can instantly see at any moment.

The main colour of the painting can be concluded as blue and yellow. I am trying to avoid getting political as I don't think it is necessary here, but obviously after anti government protests in 2019, the contrast of the colours yellow and blue are no longer only optical but political to us, the Hongkongers. They represent two groups of people, mostly similar to enemies, and two set of ideologies, where yellow represent whom we call "real Hongkongers" and blue whom we refer to the traitors of Hong Kong in general. Whether unintentionally or what, I think this contrast can be commonly seen in work of Hong Kong Artists who uses colours, because that's what the unconscious is doing to us. And that's what people other than Hongkongers would supposedly not see. (Of course now you will think of the flag of Ukraine seeing blue and yellow.)

The strokes (oh why is it all about the strokes to me?) has some texture to it, as they are thick paint. There must be some energy about it. And again it is the unconscious force that drove her to paint those and it is abstract so what is that is totally up to anyone's interpretation. Having said that, there is still harmony to those parts in terms of the colour, shades of yellow and blue.

Also, the brochure from the gallery mentioned Chan's process of colour inspired by Japanese flower-arranging, which emphasise the equal proportion of positive and negative space, might be another reason why the painting is still quite pleasing to look at.

For abstract painting, the most important quality is probably energy that it conveys. Being totally abstract, I would say that this is a very energetic painting and because of the size that amplifies that, it is quite nice in its own realm.


The next artist's work is stunning! Leo Nataf moved the universe, volcanoes into the sculpture.

He brought back materials from his trip to south American in his car. The process of the paint, glazing, merging them together, is amazing... Can I ever accomplish something like that...?

Bernar Venet's installations are also so interesting. It is the aesthetic of the man-made, scientific objects, somehow opposed to Leo Nataf's work. It is square vs circle, and these two shapes form the world we are living in right now.

The fact that these are not welded together, and are made of some kind of steel? which further highlights the beauty of man-made.

Later on, we went to a few more galleries and there are also interesting work, albeit not as interesting as these are to me. Then we went to Tate Modern. Apart from the huge installation in the Turbine Hall, the most unforgettable was seeing two people at the The Solemn Process installation by Ana Lupas, dress in the same yellow tone as the photos!! Unfortunately I didn't take any photo of them due to dying battery in my phone....

(I might expand this journal later)

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