As an exhibition-goer, I usually think of a single memorable moment right after each visit so to implant it in my mind. And because of my digital marketing background, my self-defined KPI is total time spend per artwork. That is why I would take it slow, spending long enough time standing in front of or walking around artworks. Most pleasurable of all is “being with them” and to listen.
The work I stayed longest with at “Melting Pot” (read more here) was Sparrow. Mahjong. Flu. by Alex Heung Kin Fung (below).
This set of 4 paintings caught my attention at a distance because of its colour tone. It was the pastel palette to paint an apartment that I wish I could own one day (for god knows when). Those sparrows were placed collectively as a poem of eight lines or individually as four couplets. Each lively bird was either picking a letter or carrying a prop. “What are they trying to say?” my detective nerves were touched.
Closer I came, the letters read “8964”, “1997”, characters of four seasons and some characters found in mahjong. In this game of mahjong, sparrows were the tiles of four players.
Sparrow. Mahjong. Flu. Details
Sparrows are commonly seen in neighborhood and they have been here long enough to witness our history. “But most of the time, we human beings are so ignorant of animals around us. Some say they love animals, but it’s time to rethink our relationship with them.” Alex explained.
With a funny twist of fortune telling, I think the birds are given a chance to have a voice by pecking a letter; the hidden message is subject to visitor’s interpretation. Sadly, an unlucky one killed by flu reminds us of another threat around the corner.
The other piece by Alex is called Rootless Wood. Yes, rootless. It is not difficult to imagine because cases have been reported in recent years. Old trees fight for space with concrete in vain. Although Alex didn’t mean exactly as my interpretation, he questioned the use of countryside as if parks of neat plantation would be the solution for natural habitat.
Rootless Wood by Alex Heung Kin Fung (courtesy of Painting On and On Facebook Page)
Animals have been delineated in Alex’s works. He speaks for his passion and concern about animals and nature. Meanwhile, I believe Mother Nature does speak for herself if we allow ourselves to be quiet and listen. Artists are not supernatural or psychic but they simply listen to the voice of nature, and remind us so, through art.
Visited on April 21, 2013 at CMC Gallery, City University of Hong Kong
The article was also posted at The House News.