Vivian Ho, Everything Expires 2013, pastel, postercolor and color pencil on paper, 17.5″ x 23″. Image courtesy of Artify Gallery
ART REVIEW: Vivian Ho captures everyday life in the City of Hong Kong in her drawings on paper
HONG KONG –We Could Start Over, a solo exhibition of emerging Hong Kong artist Vivian Ho at Artify Gallery continues to linger in our memories. We Could Start Over showcased a series of new works that are vignttes on mundane living and the urbanism that Ho inhabits. Transcribing the visual in pastels, poster colour and colour pencils on paper, Ho portrays with vivid energy Hong Kong and its common people.
Renowned for nostalgically personifying the city of Hong Kong, Wong Kar-wai’s filmography has become synonymous with the complexities of local sentiments. Born and bred in Hong Kong, Vivian Ho has long held a particular affinity to the director’s body of works, with direct parallels to be discovered in her art. In fact, the exhibition title: We Could Start Over, is a famous line taken from Wong’s 1997 film Happy Together (春光乍洩) whereby Leslie Cheung repeated the phrase on several occasions throughout the movie in an attempt to rekindle his ailing relationship with Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (in their fictional characters). Ho picks this line not for re-enacting the movie, but to re-project the surrealist aesthetics and erratic emotions of Wong’s movies onto the real world – to make the surreal real. Her vignettes ground the director’s lens of intense romanticism, vivid imagery and vague moods onto familiar everyday scenes of our city, allowing us to re-live Wong Kar-wai’s film scenes with a new interpretation.
Images of an elderly enjoying a traditional cup of Hong Kong milk tea at a cha chaan teng; a man walking his bird in an age-old wooden cage amidst blooms; a lady preparing vegetables at a market stall are just some of the iconic visuals that bring the exhibition to life. Other works re-present the desires of common citizens via unassuming characters, who battle with issues of identity, loneliness and the daily struggles of the layman, all rendered thoughtfully in an illusionistic style.
This new series of drawings on paper continue to deal with the notions of life and death that characterize Ho’s oeuvre, in which she raises much deeper questions on social and cultural issues. Her chosen medium of pastels, poster colour and colour pencils lend a chromatic yet fragile quality to her creations, with a softness and depth that animates the artist’s unique perception of her native hometown.
We Could Start Over immerses viewers into a world where disparate scenarios are connected visually and aesthetically, yet each presents a rich story of not only those portrayed, but of the livelihoods that them and their families lead. The details of their facial expressions powerfully convey each protagonists’ emotions, but Ho distinctly blurs the background and surroundings to encourage subjective contemplation and interpretation, inviting the audience to re-consider our own lifestyle, the places and faces we have grown accustomed to, or have taken advantage of.