“In the creative process, excessive precision and control may result negatively. Choosing to let go and allow accidents to take their course reaffirms the existence of beauty. Such is the blind spot of the controlled brushstrokes” - Christopher Ku
Hong Kong artist Christopher Ku's exhibition duology "Paintings of Reverberation'' opened to critical acclaim at Illuminati Fine Art on 24 June. Following its conclusion on 15 July, the gallery presents the second part of its exhibition to be held from 23 July to 12 August, featuring the "Semantic Construction" series. As a sequel to "Reverberation" which investigates the artist's innovative use of materials and traditional symbols to challenge dichotomies, the new series shows the artist's attempt to further develop abstract imagery and break away from the inherent elements of art, resulting in a new visual language that articulates the future and the unknown. The exhibition showcases Ku's diverse oeuvre and highlights his continuous search for self-transcendence while inspiring the audience to explore the possibilities of "painting" as a genre.
The “Semantic Construction” series reflects the artist’s recent state of mind. The painterly surface is charged with freedom, and its compositions are more unruled and abstract compared to his earlier works. Breaking free from pre-existing mentality and frameworks is, in Ku’s perspective, the key to comprehending life, existence and mystic cosmology. The artist has produced a set of a common language with the external world through this body of works.
Conceptions, consciousness, and spirit existed before any languages and imageries were invented, whereas the act of writing and drawing are both significant channels for manifesting the human mind. Beginning with canvases of smaller size, the artist mixes oil-based pigment with water, allowing the watery pigment to flow freely on the surface, creating some original and profound “visual vocabularies”. The unruly process has turned into a systematic, self-referential yet abstract language of Ku’s practice, as if humans struggle to put complex and intangible ideas into words in the pre-civilisation era. The invention of language and image requires an adventurous mind and experimental attitude, which are as well prerequisites for human civilisation.
Semantic Construct-19 and Semantic Construct-21 apply a hard-edged organic figure in the centre of the work, created with organic brushstrokes. The artist takes advantage of the flowy characteristics of acrylic paints to capture and freeze the optimal state of the relevant graphics during a malleable process. In the background, water-based acrylic and oil paints form semi-organic layers created by controlled processes or splashing, flowing, and scraping. Amid the chaotic reality, the artist internalised a unique mechanism and law.
In Semantic Structure-8, the dark background tone contrasts starkly with the flat monochrome shape created by the flowing process. Organic figures and lines are loosely hanging in the picture, indicating a conscious departure from the inertial compositional rules and the old ways of creating. With an acute instinct, the artist organically layers blocks and shapes to create intense visual tension.
Ku believes that "randomness" and "non-randomness" are not mutually exclusive. By contrast, they function best when applied in the correct contexts. The artist's iconic dots, lines and finely fragmented figures are toned dow Semantic Structure - 17, reflecting the gradual transition from his early meticulous style to a more unrestrained and interesting recent practice. With vibrant colours, Ku's recent works display a newly found vitality.
One of the most prominent works in the duology is Semantic Construction-41. A large-scale painting sporting 2.5 x 3 meters epitomises the delicate balance between experimentalism and dexterity. This painting combines various "visual languages" that permeates Ku’s previous series of works created with the transparent coating technique and his recent works with comprehensive abstract elements, bringing together the opposite qualities of "magnificence" and a "carefree spirit". Between the dynamic wave layers, the scattered squares sometimes diverge and sometimes aggregate; the huge translucent volume leads the viewer into a deep abstract space in front of the picture.
Ku's aesthetic oeuvres materialise possibilities created by chanced encounters, allowing different elements to coexist in the metaphysical world in harmony, showing the artist’s ability to manoeuvre different materials. His experimentation without preconditions proves that aesthetics does not depend on individual visual effects or techniques. Only by consciously keeping the creative process alive, subverting one's preconceptions, and breaking free from inherent definitions can innovation result from the ashes of the past. Only then can one re-embrace free will. The exhibition duology "Painting of Reverberation" is a series of debates on canvas, documenting Ku's continuous survey and inquiry into the idea of painting, histories of art, symbolism and narrativity.