LondonKristy M Chan: Totally Not
The Artist Room presents a solo exhibition of new paintings by Kristy M Chan (b.1997, Hong Kong).
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Kristy M Chan traverses figuration and abstraction to form energetic, intuitive and autobiographical compositions. Departing from surreal and dizzying junctures in contemporary life, Chan describes her works as ‘stolen realities’. Predominately working with densely applied oil and oil stick, Chan’s paintings are a visual archive of intense personal interactions situated amongst the fleeting dynamism of the city.
Living between Hong Kong – where she was raised – and London, Chan’s paintings incorporate subject matter from the perspective of an outsider, imaging the interplay of how her identity is informed by both Eastern and Western cultures. As Chan has described, her painting process functions as an acute way to explore the ‘relationship between a displaced self and the search for a notion of home.’ The four paintings included in The Artist Room’s exhibition ask questions concerning how such environments form our sense of self.
In Arm Wrestling Party No.2 (2021) Chan renders two figures amidst the visceral throng of an arm-wrestling match – a sport the artist regularly practices across different international contexts – that requires both dexterity and strength. While in Chandelier and Dim Sum Buffet (2021) Chan synthesises the radiating forms of a glistening antique Chinese chandelier with a subsequent, uncanny situation where Chan found herself using a kitchen knife to unlock a tightly stuck door. ‘Like a hologram of random memories all melting together and having a great time,’ she observes.
Other works spotlight moments of unexpected stress and dejection in daily life. In To(e)tally (K)not (2021) Chan captures the dizzying panic of almost missing the exit of a lift due to miscalculating the duration it takes to tie one’s shoelace. Working as a verbal and non-verbal metaphor, To be treated like a white pair of shoes (2021) instinctively reacts to when someone carelessly hurts your feelings – that immediate emotion tarnish – like an embodied stain impossible to quickly wipe away. As Chan acknowledges, these overlooked interactions – whether joyously mundane or unexpectedly harsh – often reverberate within us longer than we’d expect.
Employing a distinctive, kaleidoscopic palette of vivid hues – fuchsias, sapphire blues, emerald greens, corals, indigos and amethysts – Chan’s paintings distil the intensity and spectacle of city life at its most rapid and dissonant pace. Working and re-working through incidents, dreams and emotions she has encountered, she has named her painting process ‘irrational conversion’. Chan reclaims these significant moments into a subconscious and visceral vision of our shared contemporary existence.
Kristy M Chan works between London and Hong Kong. She received her BFA from Slade School of Fine Art in 2019 and her MA from Sotheby’s Institute of Art in 2020. Selected recent group exhibitions include Femme-Ate, Soho Revue, London (2021); Space Shuffler, HART HAUS, Hong Kong (2021); Lichtspiele Des Westen, Leipzig (2020); Big Soft Illusion, Alte Handelsschule, Leipzig (2020); Cookhouse Gallery, Chelsea College of Arts, London (2019); and Haam4 Seoi2 Goeng1, Hong Kong Visual Art Centre, Hong Kong (2019). Recent residencies include PILOTENKUECHE, Leipzig (2020) and AiR Frosterus, Finland (2019). In 2022, Chan will receive residences at CoGalleries, Berlin and La Wayaka Current, Chile.
Courtesy of the artist and The Artist Room, London