Peaches and mushrooms in blue and green
Sunday 28 October 2012, 4.47am HKT
AND NOW for something completely different (again).
We are once again graced with another exclusive feature by Ophelia Kwong, a British- and American-trained artist now based in Hong Kong. She has very kindly taken up some of the slack in writing for The Naked Listener while he wilfully neglects this duty and panders to the whims of his professional clients by attending wild wining and dining parties all night.
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A personal thank-you to readers: After my first more intense and emotional guest entry, I should move on to something a little ‘lighter.’ What I realize about writing for this blog is that I’m not really that accustomed to writing in a way bloggers [usually] write, if that makes any sense. Mainly because I’m very much used to writing a blog/diary just for myself and not directed towards an ‘audience.’ So please forgive me for being a virgin write-for-an-audience blogger. Thank you all for reading this if you are reading it. I really appreciate it.
(Worth her weight in gold to dive into the deep end to write for us. — Editor)
ANYWAY, to get to the point, today I would like to introduce the different periods of my work thus far in my life as a professional artist.
Picasso had his ‘blue’ period — I have mine: ‘blue-green’ period, peach period and mushroom period
Actually I started talking about my work in different ‘periods’ because it was a bit of a joke between me and a friend. Might have gone through an ‘egg period’ as well — it didn’t last long — even though I think I created one of my most original work during that time.
Find a fruit. ‘Play’ with it, discover all its possibilities. Cut it up, take out the seeds, make it into an artwork.
The first thing that came to my mind was a peach. I’ve always been attracted to the peach, its smell, its form — and how in many ways I felt it resembled me: having grown up overseas, I didn’t have the skinny frame that most Hong Kong locals have. The peach, in its roundness, made me smile and appreciate my own ‘form’ more. Its delicate skin is something I relate to.
And so started my ‘peach’ period at the Hong Kong Arts School under the tutelage of my mentor, Gukzik Lau.
Taking influences from Georgia O’Keeffe‘s flowers, I painted a series of closeups of the softness and sensuousness of the peach. They were like intimate self-portraits. When the eye comes very close to something, I realize there is a simultaneous sense of suffocation and drama as the creation is being wrought. To me, the feeling is like finding the essence of humanity in and through nature.
This period came was the most depressed time in my life. I had just lost Dad and I felt the need to create work that uplifts the spirit — something that somehow could give myself some hope that my ‘peach’ period wasn’t able to fully give.
A variety of installations marked this ‘period’ of mine — lightboxes and sculptures, all themed around the mushroom.
One of those installations I created and co-exhibited with a friend had been a room filled with paper mushrooms hanging from ‘the sky,’ made in such a way as to give off a dreamy, mystical atmosphere. Took hours to make the 100 mushrooms and stick each of them onto the wall one by laborious one. Thinking back now, I’m not even sure what the concept was behind all those things I had created; they were just me experimenting with form and a minimalist colour palette.
And then my ‘blue-green’ period started.
Also getting inspired was having discovered Dad’s stash of old LPs at a friend’s house in the UK. That vast collection of musical afición of his, now left over to me, represents Dad’s love of art and culture that endures in me since I was very young.
Those LPs — with faces of singers from long, long ago from Hong Kong as well as from Europe and America — looked so oldishly nostalgic, made more so with that layer of dust on them.
I took some of the LPs with me and started to re-create the LP covers. Blue-green colours, warm colours, cold colours, green played off against the red — all to heighten the sense and sensation of nostalgia. It was the right feeling — no, the right way — to go at the time.
From those LPs I took home, I produced 10 works. Somehow, though, all of the faces came out as though something or someone was missing in them. But the LPs got me pondering over how the imagery they contained are a reflection of the desires, the desired and what was considered attractive in those bygone days.
I was shaken and stirred.
A deformed butterfly from Fukushima, with wings born shrunken, looked so sad and tormented in that photo of it that I saw.
And then came The Rabbit With No Ears.
They shook me because, that day, I was working on a commission that had to do with mutations in the butterflies of Fukushima caused by radiation fallout.
How sad. A butterfly with busted wings can’t live properly because there’s nothing for it to camouflage itself and to attract mates.
How sad. A rabbit losing its intensely iconic rabbit ears. Is it still a rabbit with no rabbit ears?
If you were to lose the most important, the most beautiful, part of you, what happens then? What would happen to you?
For every action, there is a reaction. I believe this, and in this.
The Naked Listener writes: Opinions, good or otherwise, are deeply welcomed by Ophelia. Go on, luv, make her day.
Ophelia Kwong is an artist and writer previously in the UK and USA, and now based in Hong Kong. Her works have appeared in many group exhibitions such as White Tube, JCCAC, Culture Club, Mischmasch Gallery, Cattle Depot Artist Village and other exhibitions. She had been a writer for the art magazine “a.m. Post” (Artmap) and a guest writer for “Roundtable.” Currently, she creates commissioned art pieces and works freelance worldwide. Visit her website at Mischmasch.
Text and images © Ophelia Kwong, 2012. All Rights reserved.
© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012. (B12380)