On Sunsets, Horticulture and Human Relationships: Hong Kong artist Trevor Yeung – in conversation

Art Radar speaks to Hong Kong artist Trevor Yeung about his latest work at Hong Kong’s Blindspot Gallery until 19 November 2016.

Hong Kong artist Trevor Yeung talks about the use of plants and horticulture, aquatic life, photography and installation as metaphors for the relationship between people in his artistic creation.

Trevor Yeung, ‘The Saddest Sunset (Taipei)’, 2016, digital inkjet print, 86.2 x 119.8 x 4.5 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Blindspot Gallery

Trevor Yeung, ‘The Saddest Sunset (Taipei)’, 2016, digital inkjet print, 86.2 x 119.8 x 4.5 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Blindspot Gallery.

Starting from 24 September and running until 19 November 2016, “The Sunset of Last Summer” is Hong Kong artist Trevor Yeung’s latest solo show at Blindspot Gallery, Hong Kong. Born in 1988 in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, China, Yeung graduated from the Academy of Visual Arts at Hong Kong Baptist University in 2010. The exhibition, featuring photography and installations, showcases works that draw inspiration from Yeung’s own inner conflicts and his memory of a past love affair.

Yeung’s artistic practice explores the every day, and the dichotomy between private and public. By using a variety of unusual materials, he weaves narratives around viewing experiences through the hidden and interactive relationship between image, object, space and the viewer.

Art Radar speaks to the Hong Kong artist to discuss his latest works and the rationale behind their creation.

Trevor Yeung. Image courtesy the artist and Blindspot Gallery. Photo: South Ho.

Trevor Yeung. Image courtesy the artist and Blindspot Gallery. Photo: South Ho.

Why is your solo exhibition at Blindspot Gallery in Hong Kong titled “The Sunset of Last Summer”? What is the significance of sunsets in your work?

The sunset is one of moments when we easily connect with other people, as each of us have our own stories with the element of sunset in it.

Most of your works are quite personal. What makes you decide to reveal the personal to the public in a form of an exhibition?

I did not directly reveal my personal story to the public in the artworks featured in this show. They are different elements and pieces that compose a picture or an experience to the audience. The audience does not have to understand the artist’s story – they can interrupt the works with their own stories.

Trevor Yeung, ‘Sunset Light’, 2016, candle with reddish orange flame, candle stand, travertine, 44 x 22.5 x 22.5 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Blindspot Gallery.

Trevor Yeung, ‘Sunset Light’, 2016, candle with reddish orange flame, candle stand, travertine, 44 x 22.5 x 22.5 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Blindspot Gallery.

What is the role of audience engagement in your work? Tell us about your installation Sunset Light, an artwork that encourages the audience to participate by lighting up the candle. How did this idea come about?

It is the best to recall their own memories regarding different elements in the exhibition. When we think of an image of sunset, it is always the most golden orange moment. The sunset is not just about the moment, it is a process starting from blue, followed by orange, then red and finally complete darkness. So I decided to create a moment through which you can only experience the colour of the greatest moment, from the beginning until the end.

Trevor Yeung, ‘The Cave’, 2016, table cloth, wood, cocktail tables, ceiling fans, LED lights, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist and Blindspot Gallery.

Trevor Yeung, ‘The Cave’, 2016, table cloth, wood, cocktail tables, ceiling fans, LED lights, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist and Blindspot Gallery.

How has the experience of walking in a Chinese garden influenced your work? Which characteristics of a Chinese garden fascinate you most?

For this exhibition, I focus on the very characteristic of privacy in a Chinese garden. The original Chinese garden is for private use only – it is not open to the public. To further provide a higher level of privacy and intimacy inside the garden, some rock blocks and pavilions are added. An example would be the stone arrangement at the courtyard in front of the Cloud stairway Pavilion in the Master of Nets Garden in Suzhou, China. Also, there are different kinds of routes to navigate the garden, including some short-cuts for servants only. This show allows the audience to walk through following their own will but also with a hidden guide.

Trevor Yeung, ‘Cacti (9.8 cm)’, 2016, blowfish, clay pot, sand, 15.5 x 14 x 14 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Blindspot Gallery.

Trevor Yeung, ‘Cacti (9.8 cm)’, 2016, blowfish, clay pot, sand, 15.5 x 14 x 14 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Blindspot Gallery.

What is the role of plants in your life and how did plants become a medium of expression in your art?

I consider plants as my friends in my life and I consider them to be my collaborators in my works. I started considering them as a medium of expression when I found out that they could reflect a lot of things that happen in human life. Plants act like witnesses in our lives.

Trevor Yeung, ‘Born with Two Hearts’, 2016, chicoreus brunneus, vitrine, 37 x 16 x 16 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Blindspot Gallery.

Trevor Yeung, ‘Born with Two Hearts’, 2016, chicoreus brunneus, vitrine, 37 x 16 x 16 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Blindspot Gallery.

Tell us more about your work Pineapple Sea. How did you come up with the title and why did you choose that particular type of tropical plant?

The plants used in the work are bromeliads. The pineapple is a kind of bromeliad. I did not choose this type of plant for this particular work. In fact, it is the other way round – the idea comes after I have had this plant for four years.

Trevor Yeung, ‘Music Box (bedroom)’, 2016, fish tank, steel structure and aquarium equipment, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist and Blindspot Gallery.

Trevor Yeung, ‘Music Box (bedroom)’, 2016, fish tank, steel structure and aquarium equipment, dimensions variable. Image courtesy the artist and Blindspot Gallery.

Aquatic life plays an important role in your art. For instance, Music Box (bedroom) is comprised of seven fish tanks. What do you think is the relationship between nature, ecosystem and your work?

Not all my work encompasses these big concepts like nature and ecosystem. My work, Music Box, expresses a more intimate focus on all of the smaller supportive systems that sustain an aquarium – the filtration system and the artificial lighting system. People often think that fish are the key components of an aquarium, but without a complete filtration system, they are not complete.

Trevor Yeung, ‘Last Summer Sunset’, 2016, candle, candle stands, wooden table, 108 x 33 x 33 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Blindspot Gallery.

Trevor Yeung, ‘Last Summer Sunset’, 2016, candle, candle stands, wooden table, 108 x 33 x 33 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Blindspot Gallery.

Your art is mainly about human relationships, and yet there is no actual human presence in your work – only metaphors are used to express the theme. Why do you choose this mode of representation? Does this deliberate choice to not include the physical presence of a human being enhance your work?

It is my personality and this is the most comfortable way for me to express an idea which I consider sensitive. For me, human relationships are sensitive.

Which artist do you admire most?

Felix Gonzalez-Torres.

Trevor Yeung, ‘Greenhouse Sitter’, 2016, archival inkjet print, 40 x 60 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Blindspot Gallery.

Trevor Yeung, ‘Greenhouse Sitter’, 2016, archival inkjet print, 40 x 60 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Blindspot Gallery.

What projects are you working on currently? Any upcoming exhibitions?

I am now doing a residency at Parc Rousseau in Ermenonville, France. And I am going to have a solo exhibition in Beijing and a group show at Jimei X Arles International Photo Festival.

Valencia Tong

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Related Topics: Hong Kong artist, photography, nature, gallery shows, Hong Kong

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