Foreword in "I call you Nancy" catalog
1 May, 2012
written by Amelia Johnson
An active young visual artist, Tang Kwok Hin is a rising star of the Hong Kong art scene. His work is attracting interest from collectors and curators alike and he is fast becoming one of the most talked about Hong Kong artists of his generation. Whilst studying Fine Art at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Tang became fascinated by the relationship between nature and urban development in Hong Kong. Through his work, he aims to examine objects and images and how their meanings have been altered by urbanisation and human development in this age of technology. His thought provoking work is heavily infused with local flavour, often incorporating photographs that are taken near his house in one of Hong Kong’s last remaining walled villages.
“I Call you Nancy” is a project based on the life of the artist’s fictitious sister, consisting primarily of Tang's signature collage works as well as two sound & video works. Taking as a starting point an intensely personal decision made by his mother many years ago to terminate a pregnancy, Tang creates an imagined sister and weaves together 25 years of memories to create a life for a sister he never knew. Each work within this installation is designed to represent a key stage or important memory in his sister’s life. Using ready-made elements appropriated from printed and electronic media and his own photographs, Tang creates a glimpse into the life of this one cherished yet unknown person. The artist presents Nancy’s life as a series of narratives layered between plates of glass, a technique that distorts the overall visual impression and lends these pieces a ghostly, intangible air. Drawing inspiration from images commonly associated with the ‘ideal family’ and popularized by contemporary culture, film and media, Tang uses Hong Kong, its local people, natural landscape, landmarks and institutions as inspiration to construct beautiful, carefully layered works with poetic undertones. Individually these pieces are visually striking works in their own right but collectively they create a poignant and unsettlingly intimate portrait of a person that the artist has only ever met in his imagination. As much a comment on China’s one child policy, introduced in 1978, and how this pervaded into Hong Kong culture simultaneously, the works in this installation also afford a snapshot view of how a child born in the politically stable and affluent, economic boom times of 1980’s Hong Kong has developed and grown up here. Highly stylised, contemplative and full of substance, they provide a window to the aspirations and sensitivities of Tang as an artist.
Amelia Johnson Contemporary is extremely proud to present this solo exhibition of Tang Kwok Hin at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong as a part of ART HK 12. By deconstructing and reconstructing symbols and texts in common currency, his work responds to modern living, the world of the Internet and the ties between the two. These intricately detailed imaginary narratives about the life of his ficticious sister, Nancy draw the viewer inward and invite them to reflect on their own family history, experiences and memories. Interesting stories are being created under varied circumstances, unlimited possibilities are waiting to be discovered and transformed.