Interview with Gabriel Leung

Gabriel Leung amid his work, Should I Remain as a Noun, 2014

Gabriel Leung amid his work, Should I Remain as a Noun, 2014

(下見中文)

The artist said at first sight, “Nobody knows me.” Indeed, googling “Gabriel Leung” who is having his first solo exhibition at Gallery Exit until February 22 may lead to results of another Gabriel Leung in medical field. Hence, the interview kicked off with a self-introduction.

“Fine way of welcoming tourists.”

Born in Hong Kong, Gabriel Leung decided to pursue fine art in the university when he was studying in the US. “I had always been considering design for a pragmatic reason – to make a living. However, I finally chose photography as I believed it could make money as well as satisfy my artistic pursuit,” Leung explained his choice of medium in the early days. After graduation, he went back to Hong Kong and worked in a photography studio so to experience how the business world works, and to meet his wife. “In 2010, we went to Japan for eight months. Our original plan was one year but we flew back 10 days after Fukushima earthquake on March 11, 2011.”

“The whole shark thing was a lie, you know.”

His up-close experience to the disaster has influenced his creation when studying Master of Fine Art in Glasgow, UK, in the same year. A Recurring Landscape was the scene of Fukushima nuclear fallout repeatedly broadcasted in mass media. “People like me made decision because of it. But what was it about this image that hit the headline? Also in Roaming in the Zone (Tomioka of Fukushima, Japan), I tried to depict the aftermath photograph made by Yasusuke Ota. An ostrich wanders in an empty street – how surrealistic! In my artistic process, I borrowed scenes and articles from mass media to explore the representativeness of images and information we perceived.” The colour was twisted and the location was unrecognised so to create surreality from the ‘reality’.

“Who needs beautiful things nowadays Claudia. How long will they last?”

Is it a challenge to photography, or even to its nature of mechanical reproduction? “Yes, I’m in photography profession and I question photography as an artist.” Leung admitted the contradictory intentions. Moving from his own encounter, Leung continues to explore human intervention to nature at a distance. One of his latest works Future Archive for Future-past is a photographic series of artificial flowers being digitally manipulated to mimic the soon-to-be radioactively mutated species. Referencing American futurist Buckminster Fuller’s I Seem To Be a Verb, Leung’s Should I Remain as a Noun showcases a simple form of self-regulated ecosystem with air, water, aquatic plants and organisms inside over two hundred dangling plastic bags. “Instead of progressing into a verb, can we human remain as a noun, as if it’s the primitive, in order to stop our harms to nature?”

“Your sensitive little heart races at nothing.”

The artist leads a charmed life like the snail and the shrimp living in the self-regulated habitat. Only few months after he attained MFA and returned to Hong Kong, he has put up this exhibition by making new connections and sending email. “I believe there is a balance between ecology and art. In both systems, there are producers to supply and consumers to intake. I came back at the right timing.” There is always a right timing for the adaptable. Leung is in the process of setting up a studio so he and his wife can take up commercial projects. To raise a family is an important part of the artist’s well balanced plan.

Note: The subhead of each paragraph is the quotation from the film L’Avventura; Gabriel Leung has edited the scenes human and nature in relation or in conflict and made a 2-channel video work, With or Without US, also exhibited at “And with the benefit of hindsight”.

The edited article was also published at a.m post, Feb 2014 edition.

與藝術家梁思鳴(Gabriel Leung)見面,他第一句話是:「沒有人認識我」。的而且確,安全口畫廊發出的宣傳稿說梁氏於2013年從格拉斯哥藝術學院藝術碩士畢業,返港不消半年便舉行個人展覽(展期至2月22日),是怎麼一回事?一切從自我介紹開始。

梁氏生於香港,升學美國後決定修讀藝術,以攝影為創作媒介。他說:「考慮到就業,我便一直打算唸設計,但最終還是選了攝影,因為我相信攝影既可『搵食』亦可作藝術。」他畢業後回港,在一家影樓工作,初嚐商業世界處事的效率和方式,同時亦遇上他的太太。「2010年,我們打算到日本住下一年,但翌年311福島地震及所引發的災難叫我們提早回程。」

同年梁思鳴到英國格拉斯哥進修藝術,將其對福島核事故的思考表達於作品中。A Recurring Landscape 描述福島核電廠爆炸一刻,而這個歷歷在目的場面不斷在大眾媒體重播。「像我一般的居民就憑這個影像評估形勢,究竟它有什麼意義?另一作品Roaming in the Zone (Tomioka of Fukushima, Japan)是根據日本攝影師大田康介深入災區的真實紀錄,鴕鳥走在死城中,極超現實!我在探討影像和資料被接收後的代表性,主體多是借來的新聞片段和文字。」畫面的顏色被扭曲,地方被模糊,讓「現實」走得更超現實。

這不正正挑戰攝影或其機械複製的本質?梁思鳴承認抱有這個相對的看法:「我以攝影為職業,在藝術創作卻質疑攝影。」從個人經驗移向社會議題,梁思鳴保持距離探討人如何干涉自然。近作之一Future Archive for Future-past為人造花攝影系列,花朵經數碼修改以比喻不久將來人類要根據這些受輻射變種的植物來做人造花。另一組裝置Should I Remain as a Noun垂吊逾二百個膠袋──自我調節的生態囊,每個有空氣、水、水種植物及生物;梁思鳴參考美國未來學家富勒說的「我似乎是個動詞」,他則想人類暫不進化,保留名詞狀態,就可減緩人類對自然的破壞。

仿如生態囊裏的蝸牛和小蝦,梁思鳴目前在藝術圈樂在其中。肆業藝術碩士返港數個月,他找上幾個聯絡,發幾個電郵便能與藝廊合作舉行個展,他認為:「自然生態和藝術是平衡的,兩者均有生產者和消耗者,我覺得這個時候回港發展是好時機。」對適應力強的人來說,何時也是好時機。梁思鳴正籌備攝影工作室,好讓他和太太接更多商業項目,畢竟對他來說養家與藝術並存才算平衡。

本文經編輯後於 a.m post 2014二月號刊登

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