Cheung Tsz Hin’s latest body of works combines both realistic and imaginative depictions of potted plants and daily objects that reflect upon the artist’s past memories. They show Cheung’s continuing exploration of painting subjects which he feels close to and connects with. Due to the global pandemic this year, he has spent more time observing his potted plants on his rooftop in which is also his studio. Whenever he closes his eyes, the colours and shapes of his plants vary from time to time. As a result, he found it difficult to grasp their true colours and tell the difference between reality and impression in his memories—is what he remembers real? He transforms the images from his mind onto his canvases as if he is painting a portrait of someone important. With layers and layers of brushwork, the meticulous details of branches and leaves are made possible by the calmness and affection Cheung breathes onto his canvases. Inspired by how a chain of light bulbs tangled on some shrubs had brought him a sense of déjà vu, Cheung attempts to recreate a similar linkage in his surroundings. “Those feelings are vague but I know for sure they once existed. They come back to me from another universe to remind me of a lesson. That second of awareness assured me the significance of memories and how they have pathed the way to my future,” he explained.
The rural landscape of the New Territories is another recurrent focus in Cheung’s paintings, at times accompanied by a subtle figure of a child’s back or his side, who is either looking away, hiding behind an abandoned sofa, or covering his head with a pillow in a bed of flowers. His face may not be seen directly but a strong sense of intimacy and inseparability can be felt through the gloomy air and fine layers of paint. Cheung describes his works as very personal, while blending his memories with the present scenery of the places where he was brought up and belongs, hence giving voice to peace and harmony. There is something moving and fragile, full of solitude in the breeze of his light colours and in the passing of time, that keeps reminding his audience of their own roots. When it comes to a year living under the pandemic, more of his emphasis has shifted towards observing family and friends, the details of their bodies and their relationships. Painting to Cheung is a treasured opportunity to remember, to contain, and to record those trivial moments in life, as if he is writing a love letter to the past and the present.
Cheung Tsz Hin (b. 1987, Hong Kong) obtained a Bachelor of Integrated BBA (minor in Fine Arts) from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2010, and a Master of Fine Arts in Taipei in 2014. He has held solo and group exhibitions in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Iceland. He participated in the artist residency program organised by Listhus SES in Iceland in 2018.