Arts Preview: Mak Ying-tung uses balloons to highlight her colourful intent

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 June, 2014, 11:34pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 June, 2014, 12:12am

Gallery Exit


Artist Mak Ying-tung is certain that, had she opted for a conventional art education, she wouldn't be creating the kind of provocative work that is now earning her attention in the local art scene.

"I loved theatre as a teenager, but I have never been an arts person. After my A-levels, I applied for City University's School of Creative Media [SCM] because I heard its admission rate was almost 100 per cent," says Mak.

"The four years of study have been liberating — they changed my mentality. I used to think art was all about oil paintings and canvases, but SCM introduced to me the world of interactive art and new media art."

The artist adds that she was blown away by a lecture about the work of Japanese photographer Araki Nobuyoshi in her first year; that, and the introductory course to contemporary art "literally flipped the way I view art", she says.

Her studio in Fo Tan is quite chaotic, but Mak says it's the finished product that counts. "Artists who have an immaculate studio are lazy. They're not working as hard as I am," she says, laughing. Mak graduated last year, and the candid 24-year-old already has a few interesting works under her belt.

Mak organised her first solo exhibition titled "Funny Stationery" (2012) to present her analogue pieces. I can't live without you (2012), for example, is a calculator with the "equals" button deliberately taken out, while Everyone makes mistakes (2012) has a compass drawing a square on a piece of paper.

More recent works include Sterilization (2013), a 30-minute video documenting Mak removing all the seeds from a strawberry, and Revenge (2013), a hammer poked with nails, which she showed in this year's Fotanian Open Studio event.

In her upcoming show "Almost Empty", her first solo gallery show at Gallery Exit, her eight multimedia installations continue her play on the paradoxical idea of disabling an object's purpose of existence. No one wins (2014) features a chair that fails to burst a balloon it is standing on (the balloon is filled with resin); the work shows a subtle sense of wit and tension.

"My style has always been about injecting humour with a touch of melancholy," says the artist, who counts Martin Creed, Roman Signer and Tom Friedman as inspirations.

"I like using balloons as a medium as they are already colourful, so I don't have to deal with colours any more. I haven't learned painting, but I want to show that I'm still a very visual person."


Gallery Exit, 3/F, 25 Hing Wo Street, Tin Wan, Aberdeen, Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-6pm. June 27-July 25. A solo exhibition by Ko Sin-tung, titled "A Closed Room", is being held at the gallery over the same period. Inquiries: 2541 1299