Tsang Chui Mei: Some Landscapes
約翰百德 (John BATTEN)
at 6:08pm on 19th June 2015
1. Tsang Chui Mei, Void I , acrylic on canvas, 70 x 60cm. Courtesy of the artist and Grotto Fine Art.
2. Tsang Chui Mei, The Sorrows of Mt. White , acrylic on canvas,122 x 122 cm, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Grotto Fine Art.
3. Tsang Chui Mei, Blaze, acrylic on canvas, 122 x 122 cm, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and Grotto Fine Art.
4-5. Régis Gonzalez & Tsang Chui-mei, A Game of Consequences, collaborative installation organised by Mur Nomade at Osage Atelier, 12-26 April 2013. Images courtesy of Mur Nomade, Hong Kong.
(原文以英文發表，評論「曾翠薇 —— 有些山有些景」個展。)
It is hard to believe that Tsang Chui Mei has been painting for twenty years. Seamlessly she has moved from recently being considered an “emerging” artist to her current mid-career status. In that time, she has experimented with different subject matter and paint applications on canvas, but nothing too radical. Tsang is a committed and thoughtful painter and every brushstroke is considered, controlled and deliberate.
However in 2013, she undertook a residency organized by Mur Nomade Gallery, with French artist Régis Gonzalez. The two artists deliberated together and individually and cooperatively covered the walls of the Osage Atelier in Kwun Tong with a large and rambling temporary mural. The experience of working closely with another artist, in a supportive environment without boundaries or expected outcomes is pivotal to her present work.
Some Landscapes is a fine, resolved exhibition that coalesces her previous 2012 Grotto exhibition with this freer post-2013 palette. Over recent years, Tsang has included such motifs as bananas, wild floating vegetation, doorways, ladders, moths and windows placed within mountain landscapes and seascapes. These recurring motifs have been pared back to solely feature skylines of floating snowflakes/shards of glass or paper and layers of bamboo in freefall in these new, highly worked and beautiful landscape paintings.
There has always been an element of the uncanny, surreal or psychological in Tsang’s paintings and this continues in this exhibition. It can be seen in Blaze, a painting of full-vigour that depicts a volcanic eruption with fiery snowflake/glass/ash/cloud or as the bloody mood of a volatile personality. In Upside Down, a landscape is completely reversed and it is mountain cliffs that hold up a ridge of spiky bamboo poles. As Tsang says: “The scenes in the series of Some Landscapes, (is) suggesting (that) the imagery of space are not the interpretation of landscapes in our real world, but a kind of subjective mental excursion and an inner landscape in one’s mind.”
One of Tsang’s most beautiful paintings is a dreamy setting of foliage, flocks of birds and slashes of paint within a green valley and distant hills. Tsang’s title for this painting is “This is a dream, it isn’t real,” and she describes the work to be “…elusive and ambiguous, (and) arouses conflicts and fantasies.” Accurate and truthful, but in its understatement it doesn’t indicate that we are looking at one of Hong Kong’s most accomplished painters.
'Tsang Chui Mei: Some Landscapes' @ Grotto Fine Art, Hong Kong
A version of this review was published in the South China Morning Post on 2 June 2015.