Portraits and Polarity

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Nostalgia I , 2010 Mixed Media On Wooden Board 100 X 140 Cm © Courtesy of the artist & GROTTO Fine Art
Portraits and Polarity

2/F 31C-D Wyndham Street
Hong Kong
June 12th, 2012 - July 7th, 2012

hong kong
(852) 2121 2270
Mon-Sat 11-7; Closed Sunday & public holidays


Portraiture is both a representation and presentation. While the artist strives to depict the subject, she/he is also imposing a personal sentiment or reflection upon which a hidden and truer self be projected. It is such dichotic expression that defines the best portrait paintings. The four artists in this group show adequately demonstrate that a polar expression is deeply rooted in their works. Between desire and limitation, death and birth, perception and reality, the featuring works are multi-facet representations of the Hong Kong existence.

Karen Louie 's painting evokes ancient sentiment through her diverse use of materials and symbolism. Louie's portraits are particularly provocative as they display ambiguous features rendered in light ink wash. The wooden surfaces come forth as an important textural intention while paper collages and laze textile cuttings bring out an ornate decorative touch. It is this combination of subtly and ornate quality that challenges the viewer and gives her portraiture an ancient yet contemporary, mundane but bizarre dimension.

Ho Sin-tung was born in Hong Kong in August 1986. She learnt painting at Cultural Corner, founded by Gaylord Chan, at an early age. Graduated from the Fine Arts Department of the Chinese University in Hong Kong in 2008, she is one of few full-time artist in Hong Kong. Ho's works are hauntingly beautiful. Mostly dark and quirky, they challenge the audience's deepest hidden desire and visions with blatant rendering of tortured soul. The relationship between paintings and film cast an even more intriguing perspective on her works. Like a horror script by Tim Burton, they first appear cartoonish and playful, yet upon scrutiny, reveal the horrifying yet ultra realistic truth beneath.  

Flora Fok graduated with the BA from The Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2006 and was the winner of the inaugural Grotto Fine Art Award. That same year, Fok was Finalist of Philippe Charriol Foundation 21th Anniversary Art competition. Fok's painting focuses primarily on portraiture with a heavily textured surfaces and strong color contrast. Influences from Matisse, Van Gogh and Picasso are easily found in the application of vibrant colors and cubist composition. Yet Fok's personal expression is transmitted through her use of contrasting forms and contours, thus generating an underlying psychological tension. A crunched fist, a twisted face or an awkward sitting position is vital to her powerful expressive approach as they create countless visual and textural combinations.

Casper Chan 's figurative interpretation dwarfs the audience with their life-size scale, imposing gesture and severe symbolic implications. The artist uses charcoal, her primary medium, to produce heavy dark hues that strike a strong visual contrast. Body contours are done in white acrylic paint while tea is applied on the background to create beautiful tonal variation and transparency. Human figure forms the central theme. They are portrayed in compromising positions with movement and gesture carefully composed for narrative purposes. Facial expressions are kept to minimal. Aggressive hand movement, echoing the body gesture, adds to the already elevated psychological tension. Chan's figures are the ultimate manifestation of her inner feelings. They are tensed and romantic, insecure and pure, edgy and sentimental. The paintings are personal revelation of life and experiences. They challenge our own sensitivity.