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Exhibition Dates: Mar 18 - Jun 4, 2023
Opening Hours: Wed-Sun, 11AM-7PM

THE STALLERY
82A Stone Nullah Lane
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

INSTALLATION VIEW

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION

In the same vein as 2021’s Bling Dynasty, which explored contemporary (pre-pandemic) global consumerism by bringing together Chinese and Western culture and artistic styles in provocative visual hybrids, Space Rich will again entice viewers by its incorporation of recognizable figures and icons from pop culture and luxury brands in its compositions. Apart from The Happy Donor, which was commissioned by McCafé Hong Kong as part of the well-received group exhibition SubXture at the K11 Art Mall earlier in 2022, all works featured in Space Rich are created in 2021-2023 and have not been exhibited before.

EXHIBITED WORKS

The Son of Man
The Son of Man

The Son of Man

$8,801.00
The Child of Space
The Child of Space

The Child of Space

$8,293.00
The Evening Dress
The Evening Dress

The Evening Dress

$9,414.00
Not To Be Reproduced
Not To Be Reproduced

Not To Be Reproduced

$10,131.00
The Masterpiece Or The Mysteries Of The Horizon
The Masterpiece Or The Mysteries Of The Horizon

The Masterpiece Or The Mysteries Of The Horizon

$13,300.00
This Is Not An Apple
This Is Not An Apple

This Is Not An Apple

$3,795.00
The Blow To The Heart
The Blow To The Heart

The Blow To The Heart

$4,812.00
Two In The Universe
Two In The Universe

Two In The Universe

$4,095.00

THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

藝術家聲明

My “Space Rich” series was inspired by my past three years of living in Hong Kong, in what I felt to be complete isolation from the rest of the world.

In this period of isolation, my childhood fascination with space travel—especially travel to Mars—often came to the forefront of my mind. I would imagine things like what an astronaut would feel on their journey. Would they feel a sense of isolaton a hundred times more acute than what I felt in my “grounded” isolation because of the sheer physical distance separating Earth and Mars? Or would they rather feel a sense of immense freedom because outer space is so infinite both in physical reality and in our human imagination?

I started doing more thought experiments of what it would be like for a “layperson” like me to travel to outer space. Every time I imagined myself in space, I felt less anxious. This became a sort of “vacation” for my mind during this tough period because I could put my problems into perspective—I was just living on a “pale blue dot” within an infinite expanse.

But my imaginative forays into this “infinite expanse” soon led me to think more deeply in a different direction as well, and I realized that, in many ways, my fascination with space and its seeming sublimity is merely“romanticized,” and I would not be carefree and happy just by traveling to Mars in reality. Earth is my home, and despite all the natural and man-made disasters that seem to be catapulting the planet to a point of no return, Earth still contains all the people and places I love, not to mention all the things I need to survive—oxygen, edible food, gravity, warmth. Mars is not currently habitable for humans—we don’t even know if food can be grown there to sustain colonies. As such, despite my fascination with having an “infinite home” in space where I can leave my anxieties behind, this remains a pipe dream.

As I thought more about what deep-seated urges made me fantasize about living in Mars, I realized that perhaps this was just the most extreme version of what I and my fellow millennials are already doing on a daily basis in our world dominated by instant information and social media—that is, “escaping” to cyberspace by adopting a consciously or not so consciously curated persona online, and detaching ourselves from our reality.

I chose the ubiquitous scene of a millennial staring at their phone as my jumping-off point for this series, situating this earthly scene visually within the backdrop of Mars. The visual pun of the Apple iPhone obscuring the central figure’s face, alluding to the apple obscuring the central figure in surrealist René Magritte’s famous “Son of Man,” came almost instantly as I imagined how, even when in Mars, my central figure would likely still stare at or see the environment through the lens of the phone instead of taking in the extreme landscape around them with their senses. This is what I often see others and catch myself doing, even in the most beautiful places on earth. Perhaps, even when we achieve the most extreme form of “detachment” from our reality on earth by traveling to and living on Mars, we would still just be looking at our phones for their virtual images of what is around us.

Our current obsession with virtual reality over physical reality made me consider my approach to color differently in this series. It occurred to me that my usual red-green colorblind approach to choosing color acted as a type of “filter” for these works which all have Mars, the red planet, as a backdrop. Mars is visually made up of different shades of red that I cannot distinguish, so I had to rely solely on my knowledge of color theory and on contrast recognition to produce my compositions. The inadvertent visual “filter” I applied to my works neatly mirrors the point I wanted to make about social media creating “filters” and “echo chambers” enveloping us that become more real to us than reality.

After putting my core figure on Mars, I thought in another direction again, this time about the recent news I read about billionaires all scrambling to invest in space exploration and to travel to space themselves—because Earth is apparently not big enough to contain so much money and power. I thought space travel for the rich represented another type of detachment from reality, one that is only enabled by immense wealth. I tried to represent this expensive privilege to be “above” all others on earth metaphorically and physically by adding recognizable brands and consumer icons in my Mars backdrop.

This ties in visually to my usual practice of incorporating symbols of global consumer culture in my works and, at the same time, brings me back to my initial thought experiments about space travel. In the end, traveling to and living on Mars is a pipe dream not just because of the physical impossibility of it—even if Mars were habitable, it would either only be accessible to the richest people in the world or eventually be turned into another world dominated by ubiquitous consumerism like the earth we live in today. In such a landscape, my central figure would continue to stare at their phone, equally lost in a virtual world, but just in a different cosmic setting.

Finally, I would like to mention that I allude to Magritte and surrealism in the series because I felt a strong urge to emulate the surrealists to reach inward and draw out subjective images to help me make sense of global events like the pandemic, the climate crisis, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. I felt that the world cast a sort of surrealist “filter” on my artistic perspective in the last three years. Beyond my visual and iconographic allusion to surrealist paintings, the individual figures, icons, and landscapes I ended up depicting are, as per my usual practice, lifted from reality and far from surreal, but it was surreal to me that the resulting visual amalgamation of incongruous elements like luxury brands and the barren landscape of Mars somehow made sense. In a time when the real world seems ludicrous and unbelievable, perhaps the only thing for us to do is really just to detach ourselves from reality by escaping into our phones, escaping to Mars—or both.

「Space Rich」系列的創作靈感,源自過去三年我在香港的生活 -- 一段讓我感覺自己完全與世隔絕的日子。

在這與世隔絕的期間,童年時對星際旅行(尤其是火星!)的癡迷似乎被重新點燃了。我幻想太空人在宇宙生活的感受,想像他們會比現在還能「腳踏實地」的我,感受超過百倍的隔絕感嗎?還是在浩瀚無垠的宇宙中,他們所感覺到的,反而是我們難以想像的巨大自由?

我開始進行更多思想實驗,每當想像自己身處太空,便發現焦慮竟然減少了。在如此難捱的時期,這簡直是種另類的「渡假」,並讓我可以更透徹地審視自身 --我不過是活在無限穹蒼中一個「暗淡藍點」(pale blue dot)之上。

只是,這份對「無限穹蒼」的想像很快迫使我進行更多面向的深入思考。我意識到自己對太空的迷戀其實過於浪漫化,現實是,即使成功登上火星,我也不會從此快樂無憂。地球是我的家,儘管各種自然及人為災害似乎正將她推向無可挽回的境地,她卻始終承載著所有我愛的人和地,更別說那些我們都賴以為生的元素 -- 氧氣、食物、重力、溫暖…… 目前火星當然是不宜人類居住的,我們甚至不知道那裡能否夠耕作以養活殖民。的確,我常常思念著那個可以將所有焦慮拋諸腦後的「無限之家」,卻清楚這只是場漂亮的白日夢。

我進一步思考,到底是什麼根深蒂固的慾望使我如此迷戀火星旅行?我才意識到,這可能只是我和其他千禧世代的同胞們,沉浸在這個被即時信息及社交媒體主導的世界中,唯一能做到最極端的對抗 -- 我們在日常生活中已是無時無刻也有意或無意地化身線上角色「逃離」到網絡空間之中,讓自己脫離現實。

千禧世代的人們無時無刻都在盯著手機,這隨處可見的畫面成為了本系列的起步,我將之配置在不同的火星場景之中。用蘋果手機擋住人物的臉,致敬了超現實主義畫家René Magritte的著名作品「人類之子」。我想,假如作品中的這些角色現在就生活在火星中,他們還是會選擇通過手機鏡頭去看世界,而非運用自身感觀來認知周圍的極端環境。也許我們就是如此,即使與真能與地球終極分離,成功登陸火星並存活下來,我們仍然只願瞪著手機,去搜尋近在咫尺的事物的虛擬映像。

目前人類對虛擬現實的沉迷超越了物理現實,這激發了我在此系列中運用不同於以往的色調。在以火星這個紅色的星球為背景的作品中,作為紅綠色盲人士,我一向選擇顏色的方法,此時竟變成了一面天然的濾鏡。火星的視覺形象,是由各種我無法區分的紅色所構成,因此我不得不完全依靠色彩理論知識及對比識別來進行創作。就這樣,這面無心插柳的濾鏡,卻恰如其分地映照出我的創作觀點 -- 由社交媒體所建構的「濾鏡」和「回音室」,對我們而言可能比現實更真實。

當我將核心角色們放進火星後,另一方向的思考隨即而生。最近讀到幾則新聞,關於多位億萬富翁都爭相投資宇宙探索項目,並揚言自己也計劃前往太空旅遊。只因地球太小,容納不下更大量的金錢和權力。我想,富商對太空旅行的願景,會否又是另一種試圖脫離現實的方式?而這種脫離亦只有透過巨額財富才能實現。於是,我在火星背景中加入了某些知名品牌和消費者圖像,以顯示這些尊貴的特權階級,總能在不同層面都凌駕於其他地球人之上。

視覺上,這與我經常在作品中加入全球消費文化象徵的做法如出一轍,同時也讓我回到自己最初的太空旅行思想實驗中。說到底,火星旅遊或定居是場白日夢,並非只因物理上的限制。畢竟即使火星適合人類居住,要不就只有那些最富有的人有資格遷移,要不就演變成另一個像我們所生活的地球一樣,被無處不在的消費主義主宰的世界。無論在哪一個宇宙,無論景觀如何變換,這些核心角色仍然會繼續緊盯著手機,迷失於虛擬世界中。

最後,我想特別提一下,我在此系列中仿效了René Magritte和超現實主義畫作,全因心中一股強烈的衝動,促使我要以超現實主義者的視角內觀並繪畫出主觀圖像,以幫助自己好好理解儲如疫情、氣候危機、俄國入侵烏克蘭等全球性事件。就在過去三年,世界彷彿在我的藝術視角上添置了一面超現實主義的「濾鏡」。一貫而言,我在作品中加入的角色、圖標或風景等都談不上是超現實。不過當所有素材融合後,奢侈品牌與火星貧瘠景觀的不協調卻成就出另一種超現實意象。也許,置身於荒謬的世界,唯一能使我們脫離現實的,真的只有逃進手機、甚至逃進火星了。

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