HALF THE SKY THE SKY IS THE LIMIT Celebrating female’s multifaceted talents and dream pursuits

16 November - 15 December 2022

CURATORIAL STATEMENT

Sze Wan LEUNG

 

In support of the consequential cause of Jennifer Yu Cheng Girls Impact Foundation to nurture a strong talent pipeline of teen girls to become the “future ready” leaders of tomorrow, the exhibition Half the Sky; The Sky is the Limit brings together twelve artists, Hector CHAN, Anna Ngan Leong CHEUNG, Winki CHO, CHUI Pui Chee, Vivian HO, MAN Fung Yi, MOK Yat San, NGAI Wing Lam, OFFGOD, Sara TSE, SHI Xin Ji, and XUE Ruo Zhe, six males and six females from Hong Kong and China with the aim to inspire young girls to pursue their goals in life and to celebrate their diverse traits through art.

 

This exhibition catalogue is sophisticatedly designed to immerse our readers in a visual guided tour in paper, the sequence of artworks and artists to come is hence aligned with the curatorial narrative instead of the conventional alphabetical order. 

 

Half the Sky; the Sky is the Limit is a representation that women are holding up half the sky, below which there is no limit for women. With the notion of celebrating female’s multifaceted talents, we have invited both male and female artists to offer their perspectives through art creation.  We trust empowerment to women is stronger when the drive is stemming  from both males and females. Incidentally, there are two couples among the participating artists. They are MAN Fung Yi & MOK Yat San from Hong Kong, and Anna Ngan Leong CHEUNG & XUE Ruo Zhe from Beijing. Both couples make wonderful examples of how women shine in their own career while sharing lives and running families with supportive male counterparts.

Some of the participating artists explore the emotional side of females through their art works. In the past, women’s emotions were often viewed as frailty. Contrarily, the strength of women lies exactly in their emotional life while some send messages to young girls through their artworks.

NGAI Wing Lam’s distinctive surrealistic fish man and woman portraits in the style of 18th Century European landscape painting are often set in Hong Kong. She draws inspiration from urban life in general as well as her own personal life.  Watching the Plants with Heart (I) and (II) Tomato Tree talks about the power of women's love towards the people they hold dear to can be so strong to overcome the fear of uncertainties in life. These uncanny pictures are shaped in the form of old-fashioned windows that may imply the artist is the observer, and at the same time, she could also be the heroine in the painting.

The women in Hector CHAN’s painting from  “The Scenes” series are heroic.  Let’s Laugh depicts a scene from a popular local movie Golden Chicken 3, whereas Love and Righteousness from a scene in a popular local comedy The God of Cookery, that both heroines support and protect their loved ones against difficult situations. Their courage and faith led them to happiness at the end. The colours Hector employs are vibrant while the brushworks are fluent and light. And the lightness in his paintings carries a lot of weight. 

As a printmaker and painter Winki CHO’s linocut relief print Walawala embraces women’s vulnerability, while Poolside Chatter shows female’s natural ability for sharing their feelings that connects them with others easily. Her paintings tell a story of a young woman in a city trying to pursue her own dreams. Like Hector, Winki CHO pays a lot of attention to colours and forms. The swimming pool at dusk glows with lots of shades of colours woven carefully together. The figures in Poolside Chatter are of slightly distorted proportion, limbs are elongated and the bodies are sturdy. They find serenity and comfort with each other’s company.

Anna Ngan-Leong CHEUNG takes interest in the relationship between urban environment and individuals. She has lived in many cities since she was born in Quan Zhou in China, and moved to various cities like Hong Kong, the UK, the US and back to China starting from an early age. As a highly independent young woman from an early age and a mother of two young girls (with XUE Ruo Zhe), she is very sensitive to the psychological condition in relation to the change of urban environment. The wide-angle depiction of urban scenes implies the artist taking an observer’s position examining the people and the surroundings. 

SHI Xin Ji’s painting Maria refers to the biblical figure Holy Mary who is regarded as the greatest mother of all time. SHI celebrates motherhood for their unconditional love to their families. The painting originated from a colourful wooden sculpture from the 16th century in France from which, with imagination, she translated it into a portrait. SHI’s works give the audience a sense of hybridity, which blends reality, history and mythology altogether. 

Sara TSE’s Attire series of porcelaine clothes plays tricky optical games with viewers that these porcelain artworks are often mistaken for real garments. These delicate artworks are deeply personal, they embody memories of the emotional journey of being a woman and a mother. The clothes from which the artworks originated were dipped into porcelain slip before firing them in the kiln. The clothes would be burnt and lost during the process, they would however reincarnate into a different form that carries memories. To Sara, memory is not just about remembering but also letting go.

Sculptor MAN Fung YI’s choice of subjects are also personal ones. Girl-Land No. 4G, Weaving for Harmony and Smoothness No. 83, H2 and K3 are derived from clothes and shoes she wore. By weaving the sculptures with metal lattice simulates the act of embroidery. The lengthy and yet meditative process evokes memories and emotions. These delicate metal threads simultaneously represent fragility and strength. 

Confucius says, "the wise take pleasure in rivers and lakes, the virtuous in mountains” (Analects). Mountains and hills have been a symbolic motif in Chinese literati paintings which represent wisdom and harmony. MOK Yat San’s miniature hills bring the classic motif into three-dimensional form which invites viewers to travel among them with their eyes and meditate with nature.  Mountains also symbolise devoid of restraints when young people are encouraged to audaciously pursue their dreams.

Painter and printmaker XUE Ruo Zhe regards himself as a feminist, and he celebrates females around him. He enjoys their company for their ability of empathy. In the four etchings Kneeling, Skirt, Reflection and Back Xue is observing the state of mind of the figure in the picture. Whether it is a reflection or a shadow in Kneeling, Reflection and Back, it perhaps implies looking inward and to grapple with complex emotion. Skirt suggests a pair of bare feet underneath a  long skirt. Behind a feminine facade, she is grounded. 

CHUI Pui Chee’s Chinese calligraphy piece “Brushing Clouds” refers to the flowers that bloom at the top of trees. This artwork is a blessing to young girls that there is no limit to their future, and may they thrive to be leaders of the future. CHUI Pui Chee comes from a solid classical calligraphy training but not limited by tradition. His art gives Chinese calligraphy a new life by experimenting with composition, forms and materials. In this particular piece, he infused mineral pigment and charcoal into ink. Together with dynamic brushworks, the result is a beautiful marriage of control and accident.  The vibrant colours of cinnabar and blue resonate youthful spirits.  

Talking about youthfulness, digital artist OFFGOD is the youngest artist in the group. He just turned seventeen early this year when he is already a known name among hip-hop music scene for the album cover art he has done for hip-hop and rap music stars. His inspiration draws from friends around him. Anarchy and Birdeye depicts two young girls experiencing the city on their own. They project independence and confidence while giving a carefree spirit that they are their own persons. 

While Vivian HO is a painter who works extensively with digital mediums. Her digital drawings Poolside Party and Treasure Hunt depict fantastical imagery of her imagination of Hong Kong, as well as iconic collective motifs that have a special place to her heart and to the people in the city. Her style is unapologetically bold and authentic; being one’s authentic self is the foundation of confidence. 

‘Today’s girls are tomorrow’s Women- and leaders’ 

Isabel Allende 

 

We hope this exhibition would be an inspiration and encouragement for young women to achieve their goals in life regardless of their background. Through art, they see the world from different points of view, while it serves as a channel of self-expression. We also hope to evoke their imagination and creativity through immersion into contemporary art, as together with knowledge and humanity, they will be the change to our future.

 

策展人語 梁詩韻 譯者:李子麟

為支持鄭余雅穎.培菁女性創效基金培育年輕女性成為下一代的領袖,是次展覽《半邊天;天下無限》雲集了本地及內地六男六女共十二位藝術家,他們分別為陳偉傑、張銀亮、曹穎褀、 徐沛之、何博欣、文鳳儀、莫一新、蟻穎琳、OFFGOD、謝淑婷、史新驥和薛若哲,冀能透過藝術鼓勵年輕女性追尋人生目標及為她們的多元特質感到自豪。

是次展覽圖錄經精心策劃,將觀眾帶入一趟視覺旅程,藝術品及藝術家的展示次序非根據英 文字首排序,而是與是次展覽主題互相呼應。

《半邊天;天下無限 》寓意女性撐起了半邊天,天底下並沒有女性所能不及之事。是次展覽邀請女性藝術家和男性藝術家,透過藝術分享他們對女性多方面才能的看法。我們相信若兩性能 共同推動女性賦權,將能為其帶來更大的動力。是次參展藝術家中亦有兩對夫婦,他們分別是 來自香港的文鳳儀及莫一新,以及來自北京的張銀亮及薛若哲。女性與支持他們的另一半享 受生活及組織家庭,同時亦能在自己的事業上發光發熱,他們正正是最佳例子。

部份參展的藝術家更透過他們的創作探討女性感性的一面。過去,女性的情感豐富被視為軟 弱的表現;但女性其中之一的長處正正是她們富感情的一面。

蟻穎琳以自身的經歷及都市生活獲取靈感,創作出獨特且超現實的魚頭人,並以加入歐洲18世紀風景畫特色的香港為背景。《用心栽花 (I) 蕃茄樹》和《用心栽花 (II) 蕃茄樹》描述了女性對 至親的愛是無比強大,能超越對生命中不確定性帶來的恐懼。這些風格迴異的畫作彷似一扇 窗,藝術家透過這些窗戶觀察,同時地,她亦能走入畫作,成為畫作中的主角。 陳偉傑《場景》畫作系列中的女性甚具英雄特色。《斜陽裏氣魄更壯》描繪了香港電影《金雞3》中場景,而《雙刀》則取材自香港喜劇《食神》;在兩套電影中,主角在艱難的處境下支持及保護 她們的至親,她們的勇氣及信念帶領她們走出困境,邁向一個完滿的結局。陳偉傑採用了鮮艷 的顏色和流暢輕淡的筆觸,它們的「輕」,承載相當的重量。 作為畫家及版畫家,曹穎褀以麻膠版畫《嘩啦嘩啦》擁抱女性脆弱的一面,而《池邊絮語》則展現了女性具同理心及與他人連結的能力。她的畫作描述了一個年輕女性在城市中追尋夢想的故事。和陳偉傑相近,她亦在顏色和形式上花了不少心思,夕陽下的游泳池閃爍及交織不同顏色,而人物則擁有扭曲的比例,細長的四肢及壯實的身驅。在彼此的陪伴下,她們感到寧靜且舒適。

 

出生於中國泉州市的張銀亮從小就曾在不同城市中生活,並在香港、英國、美國、及中國間往 返,因此她對探索個人及都市的關係饒有興趣。作為獨立的年輕女性,及兩個孩子的母親,她 對都市環境轉變對人們精神狀態造成的影響十分敏銳,這亦反映於她作品中,她以廣闊的角度描繪都市,以觀察者身份審視人們及其周遭的環境。

史新驥的畫作《瑪莉亞》以被譽為最偉大的母親的聖經人物聖母瑪莉亞為主角,向母親們及她 們對家人無條件的愛致敬。畫作的原型來自法國16世紀的彩繪木製雕塑,藝術家透過豐富的想像力,將其轉化為一幅畫作。他的作品巧妙地將現實、歷史和神話融和,營造視覺混合感。

謝淑婷的《衫》系列帶來視覺錯亂的效果,這些以服飾的樣貌呈現於我們眼前的瓷器幾可亂真 ,讓觀眾誤認這些瓷器藝術品為真正的服裝。為了製作這系列瓷器,衣服會先被浸入瓷漿中, 然後在窯中燒製。衣服雖在過程中會被燒毀,但它們會以另一種形式被保存,並成為珍貴的記 憶載體,著作記載為女性和母親的情感和回憶。對謝淑婷來說,回憶不僅僅是記住,還包括放 手。 雕塑家文鳳儀的作品對她個人亦甚具意義,女兒香第4G號、編織和順第B3號、第H2號和第K3號這四件作品全取材於她曾穿過的衣服和鞋子。她以金屬線編織這些網狀雕塑,模擬刺繡的 一針一線。在編織過程中漫長的沉思過程,喚起了種種回憶和情感,這些精緻的金屬線既脆弱卻也強大。

《論語》.雍也篇,孔子曰:「知者樂水,仁者樂山」。山,向來都是中國山水畫中智慧及和諧的象徵。莫一新的《樂山》系列以三維立體的形式呈現一座座迷你山脈,引領觀眾一同進入一趟旅程,在大自然間冥想。山,亦是逍遙自在的象徵,就像年青人般能放膽及自在地追尋他們的夢想。

畫家及版畫家薛若哲視自己為女性主義的倡導者,他支持身邊的女性及欣賞她們的同理心, 亦享受和她們一起渡過的時光。四幅蝕刻版畫中的跪著反映背影是藝術家在觀察畫中人物的精神狀態。無論是倒影還是倒影、背影,都可能暗示著向內醒,與復雜情緒的鬥爭。裙子暗示在長裙下是一雙赤腳。在女性化的外表背後,她腳踏實地。

徐沛之的中國書法作品《拂雲》,意指於樹頂上盛開的花朵,祝福年輕女性在未來擁有無限的 可能性,並成為新一代的領袖。他雖接受傳統書法訓練,卻從不因傳統而自我設限,他常於作 品試驗不同的構圖、形式及材料,為中國書法注入新生。而在《拂雲》中,他將礦物顏料及木炭融入墨水中,充滿活力的筆觸,鮮艷的硃砂及藍色對應著青年的活力,展現出他對書法遊刃自如的控制卻不失意外性。 數位藝術家OFFGOD為是次展覽眾多藝術家中最年輕的一位。今年十七歲的他為眾多嘻哈及饒舌歌手創作專輯封面而在嘻哈音樂界中為人熟悉。他從他的朋友中獲取靈感,而《一片混亂》和《鳥瞰圖》則描繪了兩個年輕女孩在城市中闖蕩,表現出特立獨行且自信,無懼他人眼光 ,我就是我的態度。 而何博欣經常利用數碼媒體進行創作,她的電子畫作《池邊派對》和《尋寶》中,除了描繪了對 藝術家及香港人而言標誌性的集體回憶,亦以此主題加入她奇幻的妙想。她毫無保留的大膽具真實風格貫徹了她的中心思想—自信的源頭就是做真實的自己。

今天的女孩是明天的女人-和領袖’ Isabel Allende

我們希望是次展覽能啟發及鼓勵各階層的年輕女性去實踐她們的人生目標。透過藝術,她們能從其他角度窺探世界,亦能以藝術表達自己。我們亦希望通過讓她們接觸當代藝術,觸發她們的想像力及創造力,結合知識及人性,她們將能改變未來。