Yau Wing Fung divides the pictorial space into grids to resemble the format of a sequence of satellite images. In a rather subtle way, the different shades of white create a sense of discontinuity, as straight lines rarely exist in a natural landscape. Meanwhile, the clouds (represented by the white ground) weave various pictorial elements into a continuum, guiding the eyes of the viewer to move smoothly from one spatial unit to another. According to the artist, white clouds function as “the main structural element of his paintings.” It defines shi (势), namely, the direction, the rhythm, and the relationship between compositional elements.
In his working process, Yau first crumples the paper and then rinses it with water. This generates an intricate network of lines on the work surface. Additionally, the artist paints on both the front and back of the thin cicada paper (蝉衣纸). The half-transparent paper allows the paint at the back to be discerned from the front. In this way, the back color that shows through—the materiality of the paper—and the front of the painting conjure a translucent yet densely textured surface.
The white ground of Yau’s clouds evoke a clear sense of spatial recession. Depending on how viewers approach the paintings, the pictorial space can expand and compress. It may represent the immense distance between satellite and earth; it is also reminiscent of the random dot pixels displayed on a flat digital screen. The ambiguous pictorial space conjured by Yau’s white ground highlights the complexities inherent in a contemporary visuality transformed by technology.
Curated by Fu Qiumeng Fine Art