Espace Louis Vuitton
“I’ve already earned her approval,” says Lam Tung-pang of his number one critic as he grins from ear to ear.
“She said my work is very beautiful.”
The Hong Kong artist is referring to his four-year-old daughter, some of whose toys and stickers were “stolen” and incorporated into his latest works, which are on view at Espace Louis Vuitton.
Although his work has consistently featured toys as a key component Lam, 35, sees a slight shift in his recent approach. While his previous work revolved primarily around the theme of “travel and leisure”, his new output looks at the materials involved in play.
“I’m focusing more on the toys this time,” Lam says. “You can see the Lego blocks and the children’s stickers in the works. My previous focus was more on the time periods evoked or the corresponding imagery, as in my shan shui paintings. I had to plan meticulously for those Chinese ink and landscape paintings. But this time, the process is a lot more direct.”
Lam walks towards his acrylic, charcoal and stickers-on-plywood painting The Sinking World; at five metres long, it’s the largest piece in the exhibition. “For this painting, I just walked towards the wood panels and spontaneously painted several islands on it,” he says, gesturing with his hand, “and then a human figure, and then some houses. I didn’t plan much.”
For those familiar with Lam’s oeuvre, the exhibition may be intriguing for the diversity of artworks on display, which range from sculptures developed on furniture to mixed-media pieces made with found objects.
The artist partly attributes this new vision to the collecting habit he developed during a four-month stay in New York last year on an Asian Cultural Council grant.
“It was through very quick reaction on my trip that I collected many of these objects — which are often worn-out, discarded toys,” he says. “I was very relaxed there, and it felt like everything I came across could be turned into artwork. That sensation was very unusual for me. These objects transitioned into becoming part of my works.”
Lam sees ample promise in this exhibition. “This show consists of many prototypes of artworks that I wish to develop further,” he says.
“As with the works built on furniture, that’s a direction I very much want to pursue. I would like to be an artist-cum-collector — not of art but of found objects — and build my own ‘museum’, before turning the objects into part of my work.”
Espace Louis Vuitton, Louis Vuitton Maison, 5 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, daily 10am-10pm. Ends September 30. Inquiries: 8100 1182