LIYEN CHONG's work of the past ten years is the subject of a new solo exhibition curated by Tracey Williams for the Papakura Art Gallery. The exhibition opens Saturday 1 February at 10.30am and runs till 15th March 2014.
How should I know what I'll be, I, who don't know what I am?
Be what I think? But I think of being so many things!
- Fernando Pessoa
Chong says - "Putting this solo survey show together with Papakura Art Gallery has been a chance to re-evaluate my practice, which has shifted through quite different phases since graduating from art school over ten years ago. The movements have been, in part, a response to having migrated in my mid-teens to New Zealand, where the sense of being emotionally attached to two different places at once brings on the tendency to adapt to different contexts, in different guises, often almost losing sight of oneself in the process.
My aim has always been to engage with a predominantly Western context while still valuing the philosophical traditions from Asia. I do this because I want to honour my experiences, both past and present. Moreover, I am curious about the phenomenon of migration over the centuries in how it shapes and informs each individual’s experience of their lives. I hope that audiences of many backgrounds are able to find this a relevant topic given the post-colonial and increasingly multi-racial society in New Zealand.
This exhibition clearly outlines and presents the different phases in my practice. I consider each phase an important facet of my practice, each one illuminating and adding depth to the other. It is true that I have not made it easy for critics and curators to describe my practice accurately given the many shifts in my practice. I have often felt that the visibly Asian references in my work have tended to pigeonhole my work into a set of minority concerns, or in some other cases, to exoticise it. As a young practitioner, I lacked the savoir-faire to insist on the appropriate representation of my work. At the same time, the lack of being able to find commonly understood words and concepts that could precisely elucidate my work without flattening it has been extremely challenging.
I hope the juxtaposition of the different shifts in my practice is intriguing to the audience. Mainly because I’d like people to be comfortable with them, and to feel that it is acceptable to pause, to evaluate, to shift direction and to begin to discuss this meeting of different cultures and worldviews without feeling afraid of having their rich and subtle nuances flattened into keywords and catchphrases."
Liyen Chong is currently in Europe for a much belated overseas experience.
To enquire about work by LIYEN CHONG: firstname.lastname@example.org