‘There is beauty and artistic necessity in an unconfined illumination of expression. My vision floats unencumbered, as I present images to entice and engage the viewer.’——Chloe Ho
Unconfined Illumination features a collection of Ho’s important paintings from 2011 to 2019, which demonstrate her use of a diversity of mediums, techniques and subjects. As an emerging artist, born in the 1980s in California and growing up in Hong Kong, Ho flows between ink, acrylic, coffee and charcoal. Influenced by both Eastern aesthetics and Western modern art, she dips Chinese brushes into coffee and ink, connecting the human form and imagery of Shan Shui nature. Ho makes use of charcoal to depict the tonal plurality of classic Shakespeare characters in a contemporary manner, envisioning a connection between past and present. She discloses her love of Klein, Bourgeois, Bacon, and Zhang Daqian with her use of the colour blue. Through dynamic and energetic brush strokes, Ho’s work melds Chinese tradition, modernity and bold mediums.
Calvin Hui, Curator of the exhibition and Co-founder of 3812 Gallery writes: ‘In general, Western abstract art carries a tension and destruction inherent in Western culture, emphasising visual stimulation and sexual hormones. In comparison, the culture of Chinese ink is implicit, emphasising space, blankness, temperament and spirit, imbued with particular freedom, leisure, space and breath. With ink and mixed media, Chloe Ho creates works pertaining to abstract expressionism which carries both Western beauty as well as China’s calmness, elegance, aura and temperament. The artist thus reaches “illumination” by combining features of these two diverse cultures. Led by intuition, Ho is fascinated with the evolution of natural life and man’s identity. This guides her directly to spiritual illumination along the light of the soul.’ Hui continues: ‘Looking back at the achievements of experimental ink in Asian countries for the past five decades, contemporary ink has moved beyond merely referring to Western art and has begun to assume an awareness of features of national culture, further bringing the two aspects together. Such is Eastern countries’ adjustment and retrospection of national culture in the context of globalisation. Since 3812 Gallery launched its London Flagship gallery in the St James’s arts district last November, we have been continuously presenting the diversity in Chinese contemporary art in line with our core notion Eastern Origin in Contemporary Expression through our program of exhibitions. I believe Chloe Ho’s exhibition will bring unique inspiration to London’s art scene this autumn.’
From Under the Surface (2014, New York), to the milestone show Ascendence (2017, Hong Kong), to the upcoming Unconfined Illumination (2019, London), Ho’s works have gone through a development from figurative to abstract, from past to future, from form to essence and from material to imagery. The show will present seven pieces of Ho’s newest works, such as Autumn and Summer from The Four Seasons series (2019) created with ink and acrylic on cloth.
Beginning with her Nature Embodied series (2013) and In the Current series (2014), Ho conducted an abstract transformation of the human figure and blended it with nature and the spirit of Shan Shui through water and ink on xuan paper, thus exploring the relationship between human and nature, human and environment and human and the universe. In Autumn and Summer, with the colours of red and blue together with the strong black ink, Ho harmoniously creates an atmosphere in which she fuses the human figure with the imagery of Shan Shui.
For Ho, the seasons are a conceptual metaphor of life – in Autumn, the colours of red, brown and black become deeper and more vibrant. With elements of the painting in flux like leaves falling, Ho depicts the beauty and energy of autumn. In Summer, the blue paint varies from light to dark, from translucent to opaque. The figure is fully formed and electric with colour and dynamic brush strokes.
Ho believes: ‘Fabric can be both painterly and sculptural, so it is a challenging and fascinating medium at the same time. Like paper it is unforgiving. Its movement creates new angles and dimensions. It adds a tactile sensibility to the art. It flows visually and envelops the viewer because of its nature.’ – just as Ho’s works are fluid and unconfined.
何鳳蓮,《夏之藍》, 布上中國水墨、丙烯 Chloe Ho, ‘Summer’, Chinese ink and acrylic on cloth, 156 x 114 cm, 2019
何鳳蓮,《秋之紅》, 布上水墨、丙烯 Chloe Ho, ‘Autumn’, Chinese ink and acrylic on cloth, 156 x 96 cm, 2019
何鳳蓮,《完美感知》, 水墨、丙烯、紙本 Chloe Ho, ‘Perfect Perception’, Ink and acrylic on canvas, 91.4 x 121.9 cm x 2, 2019
何鳳蓮,《花宇宙》, 水墨、丙烯、紙本, ‘Flowerverse’, Ink and acrylic on canvas, 246 x 85.5 cm, 2019
何鳳蓮,《湧流之中 (一)》, 中國水墨、咖啡、噴漆、丙烯、紙本, ‘In the Current 1’, Chinese ink, coffee, spray paint, acrylic on paper, 201.8 x 118 cm，2014
何鳳蓮,《獅子魚》, 中國水墨、咖啡、丙烯墨，紙本 Chloe Ho, ‘Lion Fish’, Chinese ink, coffee and acrylic ink on paper, 161.2 x 193.2cm, 2014
何鳳蓮,《自然的體現 #2》, 水墨、咖啡、紙本 Chloe Ho, ‘Nature Embodied #2’, Chinese Ink & Coffee on Rice Paper, 137 x 69 cm, 2013