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Notes from Transcendental Colours and Love of a City

Lam Wong / Jan 2018

Spring 1994. I was on a gruelling Greyhound bus trip from Edmonton to the east coast Canada. The trip was an attempt to do a rough survey of this great country before my move back to Hong Kong, to live and spend time with my then girlfriend, Mei (now my wife and life partner). While the bus was circling around Lake Ontario, through what felt like an eternity, I plugged in my Diskman and set the music to The Durutti Column’s monumental album, Vini Reilly (*FACT244). Eyes closed. My mind drifted away to places I did not know existed. It must have been around the OPERA II track that the colours started to come. No Warning. Flashes of bright orange, hued purple, unknown shades of blues, heart-breaking sorrowful greys. All the flying chroma of ultra-blissful lucidity. And lights. Lights worked as threads filling the gaps between the ever-mutated colour forms to link them all together. Like a roll of monochromatic film that was running away from secrets, and into the purgatory of brilliant exposure. A point of no return. I kept my eyes closed and rested in that space, enjoying the light forms and the colour show. With no particular focus, no visions or stories, letting the formation of transcendental colours beam through my eyelids. I remembered I was happy. It might have been the first time I really felt happy, in the sense of timelessness. Without a centre, overwhelmed with colours. Embraced by light in a bright white hole of infinite space. Forgetting self. Right, that must have been my first experience of the transcendental. Entering into the void. That power completely took me over. My head was floating in the nowhere air while the body was cruising at 100 kilometres per hour down the highway. My country.

Spring 2010. A two-day extravaganza at the Hong Kong Art Fair (ArtHK10) in the heart of Wan Chai, a district I used to work in during 1994. The stage was set for world-class artwork, art lovers and the curious alike. I found myself again overwhelmed with colours. This time with gigantic primed white walls and endless streams of crowds in the air mingled with excitement and the scent of commerce. Art economy. Determined to take in every piece of artwork, I ended up exhausted and in urgent need of food. Rushing across the pedway that connects the slick modern convention centre to the chaotic local boutique markets, I found myself sitting at a tiny table in a Hong Kong cafe, facing the front door, looking out into the street. Mind blank. After quite some time sitting motionlessly with my tired body, my eyes aimlessly glazed out to the busy street, to the river of unending pedestrians and moving bodies. Railing right and left like colourful sound waves. The walking figures were flashing in and out of the doorframe. Suddenly, the light went on in my head. My consciousness merged with the force and motion of the people. I quickly took out my camera and setup the tripod on the dinning table in the middle of the tiny cafe. Snaps away. The patrons probably thought I was mad. But they said nothing. I was happy to archive a certain instance of the walking people of Wan Chai and the moving colours of their bodies. Wan Chai is artsy and chaotic. It has everything I love about Hong Kong, the city I grew up in during my teenage years, and a place I continuously visit since immigrating to Canada in 1987. Although Hong Kong has undergone strong political currents and challenges in recent years, it still remains exciting in its own beautiful chaotic way. The series of paintings. Transitional 2x4, is dedicated to the people of Hong Kong. An homage. May peace come in the ever-changing mood of time. My city.


21 ELEMENTS - Relation, Perception and Meaning

It may have been my illusion, but the people in art space always feel more beautiful. It is also my belief that Art is Made for Intimate Moments. In those frozen moments and stilled subjects inside a commercial free world lies my fascination and obsession about the viewers' minds, and the meanings the objects of art induced in them.

All things are defined by other things as well as their immediate environment. The objects are meaningless if they are not related to either their creators or observers. Also, in my view, all paintings are abstract even if they are recording real events. There's nothing real on a surface of a canvas if you really take a closer look, but it somehow evokes emotions when memory plays a role in the experience. This series of paintings is a study of the multiple layers of perceived meanings and their abstraction. It is an exploration of the relations and interaction between the viewers, art objects and the non materials (mind, space, time and memory). The paintings allow me to have a glimpse of the private moments of their viewers' personal experience with art, and once again allow you, as a new group of viewers, to experience a new reality in a different level of relations. However, this time it includes the filtering of my perception and interpretation of those moments. It's like an old Chinese saying: "There are Skies beyond the Sky."

Lam Wong
Vancouver 2010 09


Private Life / Public Life

To me, art making is a spiritual practice. To build a relationship with my painting while I am giving life to it during the creative process is an extremely enlightening and alive experience. The mind has to be absolutely present, free from all mental distractions. Once a painting comes to life, the immediate relationship with its creator, the artist, is a very personal one. It is a kind of communion between a human consciousness and an object. The meaning can only be constructed and perceived in the artist's mind, enclosed in his/her skull, remaining secret forever. No matter how hard we try to express it with words (which are the real barriers), we won't hit the target. This is the private life of a painting. Then, when it enters the world of media, speculation, analysis and public art/cultural institutions, it takes on a different aura. Just like a human body is unique in the world, a painting in display is like going naked in public and opened for judgement, most of the time without the artist's witness. It is subjected to social and cultural discrimination in the names of beauty and reason. The dramatic changes of the relationship between its private and public lives could be quite shocking at times. In the end, the reason for its existence is meaningless if there's no human consciousness involved (both the viewers and artist). Art is a totally mental constructed human idea. It may give pleasure and colour to our lives, but it is Love that makes life possible.

Lam Wong
Vancouver 2011 09


Silent Air

There is this Silent Air which connecting the art object and its viewers, the performance and its audiences. It is probably the most important thing in art because this invisible gap, is also the link that complete the relationship. It is where the consciousness and the meaning form and flow.

Lam Wong
Vancouver 2013 09