Gallery EXIT is pleased to announce CHOW Chun Fai’s solo exhibition “Portraits from Behind”. The Hong Kong-based artist’s new series consists mostly of small paintings, portraying a city in crisis: showing scenes from mass protests, violent clashes and indiscriminate arrests that shook the artist’s hometown in 2019.
“Portraits from Behind” deals with the quest for Hong Kong’s identity and self-determination, but adopts a very different approach that sets it apart from earlier works. Like many other Hongkongers, CHOW was left deeply disturbed and shaken by the events of 2019 and turned to painting protest scenes as a way to process his emotions.
CHOW’s new works are more spontaneous. Based on photos and other image sources such as live streams, they have an almost documentary quality. In the only large painting, a two-metre-wide panorama of the mass protests at Hong Kong’s international airport in August 2019, the crowd is portrayed in a strictly factual way.
The smaller paintings can be divided into two groups. The slightly larger paintings illustrate scenes that are more concrete and detailed. Finding ourselves on the periphery of events, the sense of danger becomes palpable as we take on the role of observers, looking over the shoulders of frontline reporters, protesters and riot police.
The smaller square-format paintings are more loosely painted, giving them an almost impressionistic quality. Persons are either completely absent or only seen as silhouettes against a red backdrop. We glimpse shadows wading through clouds of gas, objects engulfed in flames and vague figures trying to shield themselves against projectiles. These works powerfully evoke a tormented city on the brink of collapse.
CHOW’s paintings of the protests adopts a street-level perspective, allowing viewers to freely interpret the work. We witness the clashes like ordinary Hongkongers would if they suddenly found themselves in a tense and rapidly escalating situation.
In their immediacy and directness, CHOW’s paintings resemble the quick social media snapshots shared by citizen journalists during the protests. Committing those scenes to canvas, however, lends them a heightened sense of urgency. They make clear that something very important has changed, something that must never be allowed to slip into oblivion.
Source: Gallery EXIT
周俊輝 – 瀕臨崩潰邊緣的城市
CHOW CHUN FAI – A CITY ON THE BRINK OF COLLAPSE
2020.3.14 – 5.16
Opening reception – 14:00 – 17:00
Opening hours – Tuesday to Saturday 11:00 – 18:00
Gallery EXIT 安全口
香港 香港仔 田灣 興和街25號 大生工業大廈3樓
EXIT, 3/F, 25 Hing Wo Street, Tin Wan, Aberdeen, Hong Kong