Stephen Chan is an illustrator and graphic designer based in the UK. He’s currently a freelancer who does all kinds of design work for a number of big clients. This past May he organized and curated his first exhibition as part of the Hong Kong Art Fair. It was, by visual and structural standards, a stand out success for a first-timer pulling together a large group show.
The show was called 2 Colours / 3 Dimensions and was held at café and gallery space Odd One Out. The exhibition featured over 30 different creatives who worked based off of an aesthetic theme and a narrative theme. There is clear visual coherency in the artists’ explorations along the lines of illusions, old-school red and blue 3D effects, and bold, solid black outlines. The narrative theme of “Opposition and Harmony” is broad enough a topic to encompass almost any visual work placed in the show. I appreciate that artists didn’t choose any imagery that seemed obviously cliché when working with a theme that calls certain symbols immediately to mind (guns, opposites; peace, stillness). This group show was particularly successful for its selection of work that varied stylistically in significant ways, but managed to still look like they all belonged in that same space. In fact, the pieces seen all together was probably more compelling than if the individual artists had held solo shows with their work.
3D glasses were handed out for gallery visitors to use if they wished. The glasses were the original prototypical kind made out of regular paper with rectangles of red and blue cellophane. There were pieces made specifically with the glasses and 3D effect in mind and there were others that touched on the 3D theme more loosely but did employ the same sharp cyan and pulsing red. Some pieces viewed without the glasses are eye-boggling enough and need no further enhancement. Other pieces played with the idea of illusion and three dimensions without using that particular effect.
An exceptional addition to the show is the animation some of the participating creatives collaborated on. The animation was projected on the outside wall of the gallery while the show was ongoing. The same motifs and characters seen in the 2D pieces then put into motion is incredibly effective. It’s an entrancing six minutes of morphing shapes, a lonely deep sea diver, futuristic cities and travels through space and time set to a beeping track of digital sounds.
Another lovely unexpected inclusion to this show was a weekend of live screen printing demonstrations by the artists. Like the animation, this was a portion of the group show that was well thought out and exciting to see as a part of 2 Colours / 3 Dimensions. Side things added onto the usual group gallery show often seem poorly executed and hastily put together. This was not at all the case here.
I hope Stephen Chan and his friends will be at the 2014 Hong Kong Art Fair. There’s no news yet, but seeing the level of preparation done for this past spring’s show, if Stephen’s been invited he’s probably already busy organizing the next exhibition.