Chris Huen: Blossoms in the Shade

Ota Fine Arts Singapore is delighted to present London-based artist Chris Huen’s solo exhibition “Blossoms in the Shade”. Huen works primarily with oil on canvas, depicting his surroundings solely from memory. His recent relocation to London from Hong Kong brought about a chance for him to relook at the environment around him with a fresh perspective. He was deeply inspired by the landscapes that he saw in England’s spring season, which is in sharp contrast to the sub-tropical vegetation back in Hong Kong. The series of paintings featured in this exhibition give viewers a sense of how the artist perceives and recognizes, and, subsequently, puts these recollections onto canvas.

 

Chris Huen’s last solo exhibition “Flowers Wilting in a New Day” at Ota Fine Arts Singapore in 2020 presented works that reflected his everyday life in Hong Kong at the time, mainly depicting his family members in domestic spaces with pieces of furniture and personal belongings. Huen’s use of colours and shapes that suggest natural light streaming into the room is another key characteristic of those works. In comparison, the new works in this exhibition feature outdoor scenes of what seems to be a rich forest being explored by the artist’s wife, children and dogs. Despite the changes in his life, the way Huen approaches his paintings remains the same. He does not make sketches or take photographs onsite – rather, the images appear in his head from memory, as he faces the canvas in his studio. The white, un-painted areas in the paintings suggest a lack of memory. Various fragments of memories converge on the surface of the canvas by Huen’s hand, creating complex compositions through varied angles and perspectives. While the lush green colour forms the key tone in this body of works, some works are also characterized by tinges of yellow, reminiscent of the warm sunlight in spring, or bouts of blue possibly alluding to the emotions Huen experienced in relation to these memories. In comparison to the light, airy brushstrokes in his earlier works, the darker tones in these pieces may appear to be a bold statement in the new stage of Huen’s career.

 

In the work MuiMui and Balltsz (2021), Huen depicts his two dogs standing still amongst foliage and trees. Instead of filling in the bushes, leaves and tree trunks with high detail, Huen chose depict them boldly with large strokes and washes of green, yellow and brown. In contrast, the dogs are painted with delicate rendering and composited in the middle of the painting, exuding a strong presence with their firm gaze at the viewer. Another piece, Balltsz, Haze and MuiMui (2021), portrays the artist’s wife with two dogs standing in front of what appears to be a dense forest. Yet, the ground is painted in an almost abstract manner with patterns of shapes and lines, creating an illusory effect as if they are standing in an other-dimensional world.

 

All the paintings showcased in this exhibition are in large formats exceeding two metres in both height and length, and Huen introduces broader strokes and washes of colour on the canvases. Yet, there are many details to discover with the sensitive line work that he has come to be known for. Ota Fine Arts Singapore welcomes you to experience Chris Huen’s new development and direction in this exhibition.

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