Art often plays on the illusion of space and gaze: at first glance, you seem to be looking into another space separated by the painting, but if you look closer, another space emerges beyond the canvas. Hilarie Hon’s exhibition in Gallery Exit, Yesterday Brightness, plays with the idea of gazing and looking while showcasing her personal style of strong and complementary colors in her works.
HON continues to employ her signature bold colours and comical imagery to create a nightmarish surreal world. Her new series depicts scenes and fleeting moments that are not meant to last. Similar to a movie-watching experience, surreal spectacles with dramatic light and sky combine elements of reality with imagination, inviting the audience to experience from afar scenes on the canvases, such as a tree about to fall, a man walking in heavy rain, fiercely burning fire and bursting fireworks, all conveying a sense of alienation. The human figures, with their identities not specified, can be seen as either being inside or outside the painting panels. The element of light is also significant in HON’s works and the exhibition setting. It is either portrayed in the paintings as light and fire fiercely burning or appears as light sources outside the canvases, with the level of brightness gradually decreasing as the audience proceed deeper into the exhibition space.
Sunlight Murmur 日光絮語
2019-20, acrylic and oil on canvas, 75 x 100 cm
Sunlight Murmur II 日光絮語(二)
2019-20, acrylic and oil on canvas, 120 x 140 cm
“Sparkly waters, blurry eyes” is a large-scale work that is four metres in length: eleven panels with different scenes, sizes and perspectives are loosely connected with each other in a grid. Many of the painted scenes look almost identical to Hon’s previous paintings, such as the centrepiece of the sunset and other panels depicting birds flying in the darkening sky or human figures drifting in boats. This work responses to and extends from a series of sunset paintings resembling a film sequence from her 2018 solo “The Daily Disappearance of the Sun” at Gallery EXIT. The series depicts the same scene from different perspectives – cinema audience are watching a scene of the sun gradually setting, meanwhile being watched from the “outside” by the actual exhibition visitors. Whereas this time the order of events is rearranged and displayed at once in salon style.
Hilarie HON has been exploring the boundaries of spatial representation in paintings and their installation in the exhibition space. In visual art, windows often enable a three-dimensional representation of a two-dimensional picture plane, forming a spatial ambiguity between the internal and external space. As part of her key concept, she employs the ideas of gazing and “painting as a window” as a visual art device and metaphor. Window frames are included in many of the painting compositions and they also merge into the setting of the exhibition space. For example, “Indoor” is a painting with foldable wooden panels – with its form and function comparable to an actual window — that allows the painted scenes to be seen or hidden from view. It is a triptych when opened, an installation object when closed, therefore transformable between two-dimensional and three-dimensional forms.
Hilarie HON 韓幸霖: Yesterday Brightness《昨日日光》
Date: 2020.10.17 – 11.28
Time: Tuesday to Saturday, 11:00 – 18:00
Address: 香港 香港仔 田灣 興和街25號 大生工業大廈3樓
3/F, 25 Hing Wo Street, Tin Wan, Aberdeen, Hong Kong
Photos Courtesy of Gallery EXIT and the Artist