CHARLOTTE MAN, Serenity 08, 2014, photograph, 29.7 × 42 cm. Courtesy the artist and 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hong Kong. 


10 Chancery Lane Gallery
Hong Kong

Aimed at introducing young, gifted artists to the public, the third edition of the annual “HKFOREWORD14” exhibition took place this summer at 10 Chancery Lane Gallery in the Central district of Hong Kong. The show featured works by seven artists, who were recent graduates of bachelor and master art programs from local institutions, and it concluded the 2014 summer season with an injection of new power to Hong Kong’s contemporary art scene.

The center of the gallery was occupied by Eric Tsang’s photography-based series “Kamera Studio” (2014). Tsang, whose father is a furniture-maker, uses ready-to-assemble IKEA furniture and glass materials to make a DIY single-lens reflex camera, which is then used by the artist to take pictures of his family. While the images produced are all blurry, the blended colors and absence of clear outlines are described by Tsang as being the best interpretation of the unbreakable bond between him and his family. Apart from Tsang, artists Max Chan and Charlotte Man also showcased their photographic works in “HKFOREWORD14.” The work of Chan illustrates a crowded city by assembling separately photographed figures and ferries together, while Man’s images capture the quiet yet intimate scenes of unmade beds in black and white—with pillows, blankets and jumpers forming artificial landscapes.

IVAN CHAN, Mirage (Unrelated to Eyesight) – 1 (detail), 2014, mixed-media installation, 52 × 42 cm. Courtesy the artist and 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hong Kong. 

Four framed works by Ivan Chan took over a wall in the front space of the gallery. Inspired by over-the-top advertisements created by real-estate agencies, Chan subtly criticizes the industry and their promotional lies—including the advertising of not-so-stunning window views as panoramic scenery—in a work entitled Mirage (Unrelated to Eyesight) (2014). Chan believes an inaccurate description in an advertising slogan is “like a non-existent view” for the visually impaired. The leftmost frame of the series consists of an eye chart, with black C-shaped rings printed alongside names of luxurious real-estate properties written in tiny characters. For each of the rings, a corner is cut open and a word from the names is missing—perhaps implying that buyers should not blindly believe the information fed to them by real-estate agencies. Right next to the chart are three miniature maquettes—depicting a jungle, a swimming pool and a starry night, respectively—that are each created in a circular shape. The models each resemble a plate from the Ishihara color test (a form of examination for red-green colorblindness) and also make reference to braille letters. Various tools, including a green and red plastic filter, as well as a magnifier and braille alphabet chart, accompany the work to help the audience decipher coded messages hidden within Chan’s circular plates. Using the provided tools, one can see an outline of mountains on the plate depicting the jungle. Through a magnifier, the plate portraying a swimming pool turns into an ocean. The deceptive scenery of Mirage is, therefore, a seeming critique of the fake promises that real-estate agencies often offer to potential customers.

RITA LAM, External and Internal, 2014, a still from the two-channel digital video installation. Courtesy the artist and 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hong Kong. 

Also on view was Rita Lam’s two-channel video installation External and Internal (2014), inspired by instances of miscommunication between different cultures. For one of the videos, Lam used the online service Google Translate to make it read the national anthem of China in five different languages—Indonesian, Japanese, Spanish, French and Vietnamese. In the video, the service’s programmed voice reads the pinyin in different accents for each language, which often result in gibberish and nonsense. For the second video, a child is shown learning to sing the national anthem in a classroom, while pulling his own ears like he is being punished. The work, in which the boy’s performance is obviously being manipulated by someone off-screen, is a subtle commentary on the current dispute over the national education curriculum in Hong Kong.

Positioned at the back of the gallery was a mysterious wooden box produced by artist Dino Rib, who recently gained a masters degree in visual arts from Hong Kong Baptist University. The video-based installation draws on the philosophical notion of time, space and perception. Viewers have to stand close by and peer into a small gap in order to see the video embedded inside the box. The clip,entitled THERES A TIME AND A PLACE (FOR EVERYTHING) (2014), comprises footage of a woman dressed in white, walking on an empty platform. Things seem normal until the scene turns upside-down, where the stage becomes the ceiling and the woman puts her legs up in the air to “walk” in a zero-gravity condition. Opposite Rib’s wood box was Shirley Ng’s work Eating Alone (2014), a cubicle-like installation with a counter, chairs, a bowl and chopsticks and two video screens on the cubicle wall, which each show the back of a person’s head. The artist re-creates the situation of restaurant diners secretly observing one another while eating alone, and invites the audience to partake in the quirky simulation.

ERIC TSANG, Kamera Studio 002, 2014, mixed-media installation,126 × 32 × 39 cm. Courtesy the artist and 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hong Kong. 

SHIRLEY NG, Eating Alone, 2014, two-channel digital video installation, 183 × 90 × 140 cm. Courtesy the artist and 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hong Kong. 

Launched by 10 Chancery Lane Gallery in 2012, the “HKFOREWORD” series provides space for Hong Kong’s emerging artists to showcase their ideas and talent and, at the same time, boosts the growth of the local art market. Though it is only an introductory show for artists still in the first chapters of their careers, 10 Chancery Lane has at least proven that there is indeed nurturing space for local art practitioners, which is good news for current art students and novices.

HKFOREWORD14” was on view at Hong Kong’s 10 Chancery Lane Gallery from August 21 to September 13, 2014.