The mixed media technique Wah Wing Chan uses for creating his playful, spontaneous works on paper involves applying acrylic paint onto paper. Wing, as he is known, then removes the surface paint. After drying, a second layer is applied. This process is repeated several times using water as a wash, until the image reaches a state of completion. It is like a balancing act where chance and aesthetic decisions play into the final result. While artists like Jackson Pollock, Sam Francis and Francine Simonin are an inspiration to Wing, these recent small-scale works speak of the flux and flow, the chaos and order of nature’s processes. In works like Gravité and Mutation (2011), greys and blacks compliment each other developing a near three-dimensional effect of spatial differentiation to great avail. The greys are like shadow imagery, providing a different depth layer effect. These are transverse, multi-layered abstracts whose markings and accretions are more conscious than the large scale gestural works Wing has exhibited in earlier shows held in Peru, the United States, Korea and New Zealand. Shifting scales enable the artist to undertake new challenges. There is a floating compositional effect in these new works that has a near sub aqueous feeling, like Paul-Emile Borduas’ gouaches from the 1950s. These forms could be evocations of nature’s processes, and of the life cycle’s inbuilt impermanence and transformative character. The essence of life, a collaging of movements in time made visual, is what Wah Wing Chan’s art is all about, whatever scale he works in.
Wing was trained in calligraphy at an early age, a painterly style that emphasizes the gesture, weight and nuance in the movement of the brush, where text on paper is literally the art form. Wing considers this printmaking process to be more akin to mark making. As he comments: ”When I set out to make a print, I begin with the act of drawing on the surface of the paper. My priority is to search for marks that I find appealing, and build up the image with successive layers of colour.” Chance is a central player in this process, which consists of adding, removing and yet again adding acrylic paint, that builds a light and surface effect. The paper work on chine colle is then pressed onto a larger sheet of Hahnemuhle paper.
Like nature’s processes Wing visual imagery emerges, erodes, and evolves as he spontaneously ads elements to each composition. Chance and change as a never-ending process are stopped in time. Wing’s multi-media process walks the line between control and non-control, between subject and object. While the approach is passive and allows paper, acrylic and water to coalesce, to merge at times, other times establishing layers; the effect always suggests a fluid action like water. The works are suggestive of an imagined world the viewer visually absorbs as a flow. That flow involves the physics of materials, and of life – the flow of art.
Wilder & Davis 257 Rachel Street East Montreal, QC
May 6-July 8, 2011