The Hong Kong Artist Whose Cultural References Derive From His Upbringing Under Two Systems – Ng Lung Wai
As with many Hong Kongers from the 1970s of Chinese ethnic descent, there is a split dichotomy in identity that shapes how they define themselves. Born and raised in Hong Kong before the return of mainland rule, Ng Lung Wai says culturally he feels “Chinese” despite the inevitable influence drawn from a hybrid lifestyle that was not uncommon among his generation in Hong Kong, a generation that grew up to know Hong Kong as the British Colonial, City State.
In his latest solo exhibition “One person – Two systems” a reflection of Ng’s cultural identity, the artist once again invokes indicative and iconic portraits. He is a visual artist very much influenced by western eugenics and in this exhibition, he works with a new range of materials, which juxtapose cultural references recalling the Hong Kong artist’s observations of the developing state.
It is with these creations, portraits in culturally symbolic hues of red and blue, that we see eastern and western tools of artistic creation, or the familiar objects representative of war strategy games, such as Western and Asian Chess Pieces, Chinese ink brushes and oil paintbrushes becoming the points or pixels, which form the timeless iconic faces of the late Chairman Mao Zedong and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the two leaders of the East and West in the 1970s. In 1971, the year Ng was born, during the reign of these ruling figureheads, Ng confidently venerates two of the most influential and important individuals in recent history.
Ng Lung Wai, with his own take on pointillism, a “contextual pointillism”, constructs artworks with a surgical-like precision, portraits of significant figureheads that are comprised of items amassed through over a decade of collecting. As with the technique of pointillism, whereby notable painters such as Seurat, Signac, and Van Gogh used distinct dots of color applied in patterns to form images, Ng works with a versatile range of materials to express the desired outcome, often replacing paint with symbolic collectible items or memorable and suitable, iconic paraphernalia. When pouring oil paint directly from a syringe the seemingly accurate pixels have a sense of randomness.
The chosen materials for this exhibition are thoughtfully applied to the topical and cultural reference portraits with a familiar level of unfathomable delivery. Ng’s practice has evolved to reveal new creations comprised of Chinese chess, Western chess pieces, and the tips of Chinese ink or Western paint brushes. In the body of work from his latest pieces, the context is not lost to Ng, in light of the changing environment unraveling before his eyes.
You can see Ng Lung Wai’s artworks at A2Z Gallery in Hong Kong. The exhibition opens on Saturday, March 24 at 6 to 8pm. The address is 20 Gage Street, Central, Hong Kong.