Long View Under Scrutiny

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 November, 2011, 12:00am


Long View Under Scrutiny
Hanart Square

One of the best qualities in artist Lam Tung-pang is his continuous search for new ideas, while being faithful to a style that is his own. In 'Long View Under Scrutiny', the 33-year-old has ventured into traditional Chinese aesthetics to create a lyrical atmosphere.

Opening the solo exhibition at Hanart Square are two self-portraits. The one created in 2006 is personal, realistically capturing the young artist at a lived moment; the newly drawn portrait appears more abstract, in which Lam's facial features are erased. Their contrasting styles suggest that the show contemplates Lam's artistic development over these five years.

All the other 22 recent works on display construct an imaginary landscape where nature, village and city lives converge. There are brightly lit high-rise buildings in vibrant acrylic colours. There are plastic miniatures of trees and lampposts scattered on the paintings, alongside clay figurines of city dwellers. These add a third dimension to the exhibits.

This modernity, however, sits amid mountains and water drawn in ink, charcoal and pencil, resembling classical Chinese shan shui paintings. This is not just a collage of different subjects and visual styles, but also one that inscribes the present with history and tradition.

Uniting the various components is the plywood medium on which Lam has been painting for many years. The pattern of wood grain somehow gives an order to the different layers and textures coexisting within a piece, creating a harmonious, peaceful ambience. What has changed over time is how the artist situates himself in his work. Lam's early paintings usually foregrounded the 'self'. This position of self went vague in his later works where animals became his subjects. The artist's self returns in this exhibition, yet also retreats to the background to observe the world from a distance.

'Long View Under Scrutiny' clearly shows that Lam is evolving into a more focused and mature artistic direction.

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