Artist Bouie Choi’s previous solo exhibition at Grotto Fine Art in 2020 took place when the tear gas had barely dispersed on the streets of Hong Kong. It was a time when every corner of the beloved city of her birth bore the marks of a year-long stand-off between government and protesters . It was a time, too, when a national security law which would fundamentally change civil society had just been added to the city’s mini-constitution, and Hong Kong had closed its borders to all non-residents and imposed compulsory quarantine for those returning home amid daily reports of deaths from Covid-19. And it was a time of shock and trauma, reflected in her paintings then. Gallery owners consider Hong Kong’s evolving art scene as M+ museum opens “Borrowed Space_Borrowed Time” – the exhibition’s title taken from journalist Richard Hughes’ 1968 description of the city – brought home its profound sense of precariousness, as did the landscapes she created on wood, which showed a city being engulfed in black shadows, a monstrous octopus with extended tentacles lurking and tiny specks of light where small figures found refuge. That need to capture the fleeting and the disappearing is there in her new show, called “Crossing the nights/Filling the lines”, but the paintings are more layered, both in terms of space and time. The work from which the exhibition takes its title is a triptych 4.6 metres (15ft) across. Painted in acrylic on wood, it presents the multiple perspectives of traditional Chinese ink scrolls. Realism and fantasy collide, with overlapping figures, animals and buildings emerging from washes of blue and brown that recall the splash ink paintings of 20th century Chinese artist Zhang Daqian ; a giant pair of legs stride forward; a hand holds a flower; we see an elevated view of the city as if from one of its many highways, and more of those creeping tentacles. A row of low-rise buildings represents fast-disappearing aspects of Hong Kong’s manufacturing heritage and its surprising pockets of resilience – there is a sign for Koon Nam Wah Bridal , a 60-year-old maker of traditional Chinese wedding gowns still going strong. In 2020, my show was really trying to capture a moment. This time, what I describe is a different perception of time. Bouie Choi Hong Kong’s heritage matters a great deal to Choi, who spent six years working at Viva Blue House, a charity in the city working to preserve local history. There, she got to know a master carpenter, Lam Che, who taught her how to use upcycled wood as a material. That led to “Here and There”, a series of 20 hexagonal panels made from dismantled pews from a church in Kowloon undergoing refurbishment. The worn-down, much sat-upon teak, like the wooden floor panels she has used for a series of vertical landscapes hanging nearby, adds to a sense that each scene captured is a palimpsest. “In 2020, my show was really trying to capture a moment. This time, what I describe is a different perception of time. “Even though we may feel that the dust has settled, I want to suggest through my paintings that sense of never knowing what is real – a bit like when you look at the city at night, especially when you have poor eyesight like me. “I also refer to things that happened in the past – like when my dad told me what it was like when there was a water shortage in Hong Kong. Time, the overlapping of different times, and memories coming back are what I am trying to present here,” she says. “Bouie Choi – Crossing the nights, Filling the lines”, Grotto SKW, 2/F, East 17, 17 Main Street East, Shau Kei Wan, Mon-Sat, 11am-6pm. Until April 1.