ABSENT BUT PRESENT 不/存在 – Luo Qing and Yeo Tze Yang Exhibition

Luo Qing and Yeo Tze Yang Exhibition

When Covid-19 came, it happened very quickly, and many were caught unprepared. Personal experiences and mental reasonings of many were fractured, and perceptions of reality and life changed. In a broader sense, this pandemic has quickly changed how most of us think and live. It has changed the way we socialise and interact with people. On Facebook, one sees news and posts about migrant workers from Malaysia who cannot go home, going through mental stress over the prospect of the border not lifting any time soon. Some do make it home, and there is often a video of a mother or children bursting into tears when seeing the family’s migrant return home. Or on Instagram, one often heard, one had lost his job and had to find a new one quickly, as he is the sole breadwinner of his family. Later on, one would see a video of an art auction in London, selling art for tens of millions. One does not need to read economics in university to understand inequality’s meaning: the distance between the haves and have-nots. Besides a form of precaution from the virus and a ubiquitous symbol of the global pandemic, the face mask obscures half the human face as well, putting another layer of distance between how people socialise and interact, became a fashion item and a wardrobe staple. In this exhibition, “Absent But Present”, both Luo Qing and Yeo Tze Yang works emphasised, is in the distances between people, be they physical, mental or psychological. How Covid-19 has pushed relationships remote and created more isolation and intolerance between people. How the pandemic is triggering losses, be they economic, social, physical and emotional in the society.
In Tze Yang’s paintings, a strong personal sincerity is conveyed that offsets the depth of the subject matter that he is portraying. This is to say, behind the close observation of the current societal problems, so much more is an experienced assessment of the situation, a choice, but not aimed at the subject’s profound portrayal. It is almost as though Tze Yang deliberately or unintentionally does not emphasize the composition but wants the viewer to seek the story behind the picture. Among them, the scenes are grasped within the realities of society, men in his built environment are unimportant, to our concentration, or distancing oneself from others, is within a kind of indeterminacy that completes an acknowledgement or change of status. Amongst these, the artist becomes an observer, patiently telling the story from beginning to end. In a diametrically different approach to the subject matter, Luo Qing utilised a kind of anti-narrative method of composition; the theme is full of the emptiness of life. Greatly inspired by the American romantic realist painter Edward Hopper’s sense of solitude and quiet reverie, Luo Qing’s imagery language completes a choppy metaphor. A solo scene, an isolated sentiment, depicts the living conditions of the many seemingly insignificant beings and flooding their world with inevitable numbness and unhelpable ignorance, forming the characteristic motif of his pictorial language.

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