Statement “The Art of Memory” 2007

The Art of Memory investigate themes of time, landscape and memory. Based on my childhood in Hong Kong in the 1970’s, the drawings explore the distinctive landscape of Hong Kong – the Aberdeens and Junks, while journeying through the sometimes clear, sometimes cloudy, provocative paths of personal and appropriated memory. My sources include my own family snapshots as well as snapshots posted on the Internet by other foreigners raised in Hong Kong over the same years.

The series explores the questions: Is it possible for an artist to lay claim to other peoples’ memories? We tend to think of memory as deeply personal, but the memory I am drawing from is both personal and borrowed. Who owns a memory? How does the art of rendering transform a remembered image, and how are our memories shaped by and resurrected by imagery? Is memory individual? How does art pose challenges to individual memory?

The drawings are built up with dense layers of cross-hatching and the marks serve to both define and obscure the image. For example, the cross-hatching in“The Birthday” is modeled after Rembrandt’s intense chisaroscuro effect in etchings such as those in his “Descent from the Cross” series. The imagery uses a small light source and gradually falls into a mysterious darkness—mimicking the process of memory.

“The Boat People” and “Dream Escape” are rendered on toned paper and built up with dense layers of cross-hatching using black and white charcoal. The white hatching provides a revelatory light and an obscuring haze.