Contemporary by Angela Li is proud to present Midnight Sun, solo exhibition of Hong Kong artist Tang Kwong San, curated by Jims Lam. Tang often deploys flash photography at night as part of his creative process. To him, exposing light on mundane objects that can be found along streets, such as trees and small creatures, is a means of isolating subject matter from the darkness. A flash takes only a split second, but recreating these subjects on canvas is a lengthy process. This allows Tang to retreat to his internal dialogue between gazing at night, which is intuitive, and his impulse to create harmonic scenery. An entirely new body of works showcased in this exhibition is a series of figurative paintings that takes on the human form with collages woven together with urban trees and fashion garments, whilst the trunks metaphorically represent the human body. The notion of concealing an organic body in camouflage acts as the artist’s central motif. While Tang casts a sharp eye onto how nature’s resources can be reduced to consumer products, he visualizes how they slip into daily life and crystallizes into our desire for nature. The exhibition opening will be held on Thursday 15th September 2022 from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm, and will remain on view until 29 October 2022. The artist and curator will be present during the opening.
In defining different subjectivities of art, darkness at night has been a source of historic inspiration, and the exhibition Midnight Sun, presented by artist Tang Kwong San, seamlessly materializes its essence onto the canvas.
“Surrounded by night, I flashlight at the wood and seek its reflection. A tree illuminates and cuts through the darkness. It reminds me of my identity, which is related to my name “燊”(San) – vibrant, luxuriant, or simply wood on the fire.”
It is remarkable to think that the world-renowned painting Nighthawks was created back in 1942 by American artist Edward Hopper. In the decades that followed, neon signs in Hong Kong, such as the Sammy’s Kitchen’s Sign, which light up the night have entered museum collections as the definition of contemporary widened. Perhaps as an emotional attachment or a beacon of our times, there is a certain aesthetic that reveals itself when surrounded by night. In a similar fashion, Midnight Sun is a microscopic, bold, and playful exhibition, that toys with the connectedness of various subjects and the artist’s use of light in practice.
A wanderer by night, Tang Kwong San navigates through the city and draws upon the widest range of artifacts to assemble his artistic mannequins. Serving as the framework of the exhibition are painting collages woven together with urban trees and fashion garments. Tang deliberately captures excerpts of vegetation at mid-range, creating a unique perspective that is neither landscape nor still-life. With the trunks metaphorically representing the human body, it is connected to extended “hands” that are drawings of gloves, sometimes illustrated in the format of a shadow play. The act of creating these mannequins represents the artist’s fantasy of trying to give a new life, not to the objects, but rather to the presentation of art itself.
Echoing the painting collages, also taking on a human form, is a new series of figurative paintings, in which the artist exposes different people under a strong flash and hides them under the fabric with vegetation patterns. While the imagery is playful, by concealing an organic body in camouflage, Tang casts a sharp eye on how elements in the natural world can be reduced to consumer products, in which they slip into our daily life and crystallize as part of the citizen’s desire for nature.
Tang often deploys flash photography at night as part of his creative process. To him, exposing light to mundane objects that can be found along streets, such as trees and small creatures, is a means of isolating the subject matter from the darkness. A flash takes only a split second, but recreating these subjects on canvas is a lengthy process. This allows Tang to retreat to his internal dialogue between gazing at night, which is intuitive, and his impulse to create harmonic scenery, which takes weeks of execution.
Hypothetically speaking, Tang Kwong San was once told at a young age that his destiny may be short from a fortune teller’s perspective, given there was a deficiency in the element of fire. Fortunately, he was given the name “San”, which is literally composed of three fire symbols at the top of a tree. Perhaps this explains why all the trees in the exhibition appear to be lit by the Midnight Sun.