Don't forget to look at the moon
Hiu Tung Lau’s recent paintings in her solo exhibition Don’t forget to look at the moon offer an emotional tale of self-discovery. Dominated by a subdued palette — hues of umber, slate blue, dusty yellow, charcoal and black filled the surfaces in expressive and restless strokes. The imageries, fusing abstraction and figuration, centre around pensive motifs such as dimmed moonlight, ominous landscapes and obscured figures. Unlike her previous works, this suite of new paintings seems to embody various discernible references. This is especially highlighted by works redolent of recent protests and political unrest in Hong Kong. Tears (2019), for instance, reveals a pair of eyes in streaks of blood-like tears whilst clouded in smog, is suggestive of recurring scenes of teargas that filled the streets. Another work in the series Barricade (2019), reflecting its title, depicts bold, circular strokes closely resembling the structure of barricades commonly seen during the protests.
Representation and questions of queerness and romance also runs through her works both explicitly and subtly, Lovers in a Booth Seating (2019) vaguely illustrates two figures sitting in a booth as implied in its title, obfuscated under densely painted layers of umber and charcoal. While Two Moons over the Summit (2019), which gives a clear nod to abstract expressionist landscapes, contains symbols that can be deciphered beyond the seemingly ordinary scenery. Albeit mostly working on an intimate scale and minimal compositions, Lau’s treatment of paint has always been sensual and evocative. Her mark-making is raw and gestural, allowing us to track her state of mind and movement in sequence. As always, her paintings invite viewers into contemplation and reflection, and offer a glimpse into the artist’s psychic landscape. Through the interplay of melancholic motifs and blunt textures, Lau’s paintings are characterised by the poetic binding of figuration and abstraction, representation and emotions, observations and introspection.