15 September 2015

The Flower @ Wei-Ling Gallery

What perhaps started out as a casual experiment, has evolved into something thoroughly engrossing. The fisheye lens effect is an obvious characteristic in Chin Kong Yee’s paintings, and its curvilinear lines inform human experience beyond the typical panorama. To the modern eye more accustomed at interpreting two-dimensional pictures than a real-time urban environment, a standard wide-angled capture is visually pleasing only because the horizontal plane is flat. Resigning ourselves to the static nature of a camera snapshot, the panoramic view captures more data but also less information. Changes in light and movement are typical painterly issues with depicting live sceneries, and the artist has settled into his solution by utilising the fisheye lens perspective.

Duomo Florence (2012)

Modern life demands a focus on foreground objects over background subjects, thus the vanishing point in Kong Yee’s paintings can be disconcerting initially, where the eye is drawn to the furthest thing in a scene. Such phenomena is straightforward in vertical diptychs like ‘Duomo Florence’ and ‘Dresden at Night’, where the tip of a building tower acts as an anchor, and paths leading from it   fold upwards towards it in a rectangular picture. The horizon line is not lost but appears even more impressive in “Dresden in Blue’. A focus on Brühl's Terrace creates visual depth, and stretches the distance between the setting sun and its beautiful light reflected upon the Sächsisches Ständehaus. Graffiti scrawled on the stone steps enlivens this rendition of an old town square, where imperfections make up real memories.

Dresden in Blue (2013)

Inverting the bottom-up approach with a top-down view, a pair of “Flower” paintings transform European domes into tetramerous flowers, its base section effectively turning into the plant-form centre. These works on paper are less rich in colour but equally vivid, as Kong Yee’s visual effects are relatively more obvious, well suited to render a boy cycling by on an autumn day (in Amsterdam?). Also displayed in the exhibition are paintings done in Chinese inks, its watery effects less effective with the exception of the stream depicted in ‘Forest’. The fisheye lens appears to be more than a visual gimmick – if one stands still and observe the world around, its perspective is more real than a camera snapshot. As the saying goes, what’s the hurry, take your time, and smell the flowers. The vanishing point tends to be deeper than one’s initial impression.

The Flower - Orange Flower (2015)

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