Could you please introduce yourself?
Hi, I am Wing, a contemporary visual artist born and raised in Hong Kong. I graduated from Central Saint Martins in London where I majored in Fine Art. Places I am familiar with or entirely new places I serendipitously encounter – the multifaceted architectural space – are central to my practice, observing what is around me and how their spatial dynamics could be transformed into my works. I often work with painting, photography, and digital manipulation.
Can you share with us your experiences in Central Saint Martins? Did that experience constitute your style of painting?
It definitely has. My time in Saint Martins was, in a way, a breakthrough. It helped me not only understand what I wanted to explore and achieve artistically, but it pushed me to go beyond what I was already familiar with: painting. It was instinctive to specialise in 2D, and my work has evolved visually and critically through a sustained studio base. It was even more so stimulating to contextualise my studio practice in a new light.
In the lead-up to my final year and subsequent Degree Show, I reached a turning point. As my artistic concern shifted, it had more to do with the distortion of perspectives and the celebration of the ambiguity rooted in my digital superimpositions. The literal representation you could attain with a digital medium was imminent, an organic progression – it was then when I first introduced my creative process mounted and framed as an exhibit. This was, indeed, another starting point. Still, deep down it was always undoubtedly this affinity with painting that I came back to the reworking of a canvas, painstakingly marking the surface by hand. There is something about its feel – its materiality – that makes the medium so intrinsically special. It is a real personal satisfaction and a whole process that goes into it.
How do you transform digitalized imagery/collage into your painting? Can you share with us the process of your creation?
It all begins with the city. Taking it in as I walk on the streets, photographing what I feel instinctively drawn to. I then take these raw images and play around with them on the computer. The process could last for hours – taking apart, cropping, reassembling, compressing each layer I add, subtract, or erase fragments of – until I believe the image visually best depicts what I want to express until mere traces of architectural remnants remain. I would say much of this that goes on here is up to chance and spontaneity. The digitalized imagery very much forms the foundation of my paintings. When I paint, it is a time where I can actualize, mimic, and resolve the compositions, meanwhile, trying out what mediums or techniques work or do not work. The paintings are an organic culmination, and for me, an extension, a complete step in my practice.
Why is your work always so colourful? Can you tell us more about the choice of colour in your works?
There is something about colour that just deeply resonates with me. For one, it has a lot to do with my personal aesthetic. Colour has always been a major part of my work. I am constantly mesmerised by how they could spark a melange of emotions – how they help us communicate with the world, with ourselves, our identity, and understand our dispositions.
That was how I was immediately pulled in when I first came across Hong Kong’s corner houses. The radiant pastel hues of these structures are so emblematic of the city culturally. The pinks, blues you would rarely see on such vernacular buildings left a lingering impression. It was a wonderful exploration of the quintessential architecture.
I approach and interpret colour combinations quite intuitively as well, extracting shades from my source imagery and altering them until you cannot quite tell what you are supposed to be seeing. I love to keep that mystery.
The idea of ambivalence, and a closer exploration of virtual screens, triggered this notion of an exaggerated perception. It felt fitting to employ colours – neons, striking magenta, lime, and violets – that signified this shift of something much more man-made and of the pixelated movement.
You always take inspiration from the façade of windows/buildings. How did these 2D & 3D surfaces and the buildings attract you?
Naturally, I am drawn to the present location I reside in. With observation as my built-in mechanism, how a place evokes particular feelings became incredibly pivotal to my practice. Coming from a city where we are enveloped by high-rises and densely populated structures, has created a singular sense of belonging for me.
When I was in London, I came across rows and rows of glass windows belonging to office towers. From their overtly apparent transparency to a closer look into the materiality, it led me to this notion of looking through the window, at and beyond its surface – ultimately arriving at a two-way looking.
I love how windows reveal another realm. It is simultaneously someone’s own personal comfort space and at the other end of the spectrum, a public space. The windows are equally reflective of the landscape around it: how a frame can hold this remarkable imitation of the world. It is as if a surface can carry so much depth and imagination to it.
Would you like to introduce us to your current exhibition “Looking Through The Surface”?
I am super excited for you all to come see. Looking Through The Surface is my first solo show in Hong Kong, through till the 6th of October. It features new paintings I have created this year, following a continuation of my process of intensely composed digital collage and its metamorphosis into painting.
The motif of the architectural window as rhetoric, and conversely, a tangible manifestation, is fascinating. I am captivated by and curious about how surfaces found in frames could be transformative: how a two-dimensional surface could suggest qualities of a three-dimensional space.
When I first arrived at PMQ to see the space, I liked its rather enclosed nature which opened up the possibility to have something potentially immersive, and intimate. Having that in mind, I was keen to develop my paintings for this exhibition. I have embraced mark making and abstraction, colour gradations, and amorphous shapes exploring controlled gestures, extracted from the post-production processes of my digital renderings. The addition of LED neon tubes is my attempt to mirror and intensify the flatness and nuances of my acrylic paints, tying them all together.
Can you share with us your favourite artist or artwork?
It is hard to pinpoint just one! Though I would have to say Fiona Rae, for her lively, abstracted forms, Helen Frankenthaler for her serene compositions and mastery of colour, and Andreas Gursky’s sweeping landscapes. From the spontaneous articulations that I am surprisingly drawn to, and quite the opposite to what I paint myself, to the exacting nature of the artists’ surfaces. All their body of works are so visually arresting, and overwhelmingly alluring. It is always fantastic to see how each artist has honed their style and it has become their own language. I hope, one day, I am able to confidently do this as well.
What’s your plan for the future?
For one, to simply create more. Through creation can I fully experiment to every extent; I would not have to worry about any limitations or such. I would love to see a multi-screen painting installation in the works as well, and definitely on a much larger scale – towering enough to engulf one. I can see myself building on my personal aesthetic, exploring various colours and other combinations you may not have thought would initially go together – how colours can allude and transport you to another place. Delving into multi-media and interdisciplinary forms is another; how this exchange of mediums could offer new ways of seeing to audiences.