Put-to-bed: Kong Chun Hei

Last Tango 5 November - 18 December 2021 
Last Tango Sihlquai 274, 8005 Zürich, 瑞士


2021.11.05 - 2021.12.18


Last Tango(Sihlquai 274, 8005 Zürich,Switzerland)


Put-to-bed features contemporary artists who explore ideas of transfer or use process-like and time-based methods in their artistic practice. They address trace-making and explore the tactility and material transformations of media such as printmaking, painting, collage, drawing or sculpture. Many of the artistic decisions and outcomes are related to the speculative, intuitive and chanceful. That which is absolute or affirmative in clarity is not necessarily sought out. Instead their practices reflect an inclination towards thinking about how meaning flows, mutates, and re-forms, as well as the uncertainty of perception and the illusory quality of art. What results is a fascinating testing ground of the outcome of material and artworks that elude easy definition. 


The exhibition features widely assorted motifs: the body, the organic, movement and the everyday, to name just a few. Some of the artworks present surface appearances of nature, whilst others refer to technologies of reproduction. Various overlaps connect the different practices be it materially, in their ways of compositionally thinking about negative and positive space or in their style of hovering between abstraction and figuration. 


The title of the exhibition Put-to-bed is an idiom that means “to complete something and either set it aside or send it on to the next step… This expression, transferring night time retirement to other kinds of completion, was first applied to a newspaper, where it meant “send to press,” that is, start to print.” (The Free Dictionary) 


Kong Chun Hei’s ink on paper artworks capture the surface of ordinary objects be it brick, tape or creased paper. His practice looks into the uncertainty of perception and the necessity of distance. Kong uses the medium of drawing to develop a diverse practice, including video, animation and installation. His process is labor intensive and solitary. His drawings are created with a 1.0 mm Faber-Castell ink pen and 300 g Fabriano paper, a paper that he often sands down to precisely remove excess ink. This process which requires an intense focus and nerves of steel, seems to have become what art historian Dr. Fabienne Ruppen describes as “somewhat a limit to the creative act, in the sense that it is both enabling and constraining.” The works Black Holes I (2016) and White Holes III (2016) are drawings of target paper. Target paper is used for shooting practice, a sport requiring precision much like the aptness of the draftsman. This shot-through sheet was then photocopied, once with a closed lid and once with an open lid, the bullet holes turning white when overex-posed or black when underexposed. The photocopied image, an inevitably imperfect replica is also framed by a white or black rectangle and thin vertical lines caused by the photocopier. Fabienne Ruppen notes how with this work Kong “is emphasizing both the physical destruction of the target paper and the technical defect of the machine… the translation process involved in Black Holes I and White Holes III goes along with a “blurring effect” (Kong) that obscures the [original] subject matter.


Kong Chun Hei is interested in the transition of the act of seeing into a sense of knowing. He states that “my aim is to learn how to see in an age when the only thing certain is uncertainty.” The future of Kong Chun Hei’s hometown Hong Kong is riddled with this very uncertainty with over 90,000 people having left Hong Kong in the past year. 



Image Credit

Kilian Bannwart

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