Angela Su Biography

Angela Su is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Hong Kong. Su graduated from the University of Toronto with a biochemistry degree in 1990 and The Ontario College of Art and Design University with a degree in visual arts in 1994. She works in a wide range of media, creating ink drawings, human hair embroideries, performances, videos and animations. In Paracelsus' Garden, which comprises meticulous Victorian medical illustrations of the human body, insects and plants, she shows a fine blend of her biochemistry training and artisanal skill.

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Attracted by biotechnology and the idea of the 'post-human', Su started combining the imagery of bodies and machinery. These hybrids have come to be what she is best known for. In 2011 Su exhibited these works in her solo show, BwO, at Grotto Fine Art. The title of the show referred to a 'Body without Organs', an idea introduced by Gilles Deleuze to describe a virtual body without stable structures. The works show drawings of torture machines, human flesh and organs, executed in monochromatic black ink and pastel on drafting film, resembling illustrations in an ancient anatomy book. Similar motifs also appeared in IN BERTY WE TRUST! (2013)—an exhibition at Gallery EXIT that consisted of a science fiction novel, a set of ink illustrations and an animation of a machine/body hybrid.

Su further explores body and machine in terms of considering the interaction between body and mind. In the exhibition The Afterlife of Rosy Leavers (2017) Su showcased a series of her research-based works on mental illness and social control. One of the works, A Reminder to Myself (2017), showed a set of eight poster banners combining borrowed texts, found images and slogans from the German militant activist Socialists' Patients Collective, whose call is to 'turn illness into a weapon'. The research-based work tells of the struggles and resistance of different individuals against the established system. Interweaving concepts such as hallucination, doppelgängers, virtual reality and artificial intelligence, the exhibition demonstrated the artist's self-reflective journey to dissect her own state of mind and investigate the limit of mind-body duality.

Su also explores art and ideas through her performance work. In the video One Woman Apartment (2008), Su tells of her experience and thoughts on a project in which she attempted to work for a day as a sex worker in Shum Shui Po—a district in Hong Kong known for its thriving sex industry. Another powerful performance-based video work, The Hartford Girl and Other Stories (2012), shows the process of creating a complex, inkless tattoo composed of 39 lines of prayer on Su's body, exploring her inclination to tolerate pain and torture. In both of these works Su considers her dual states of being when under physical endangerment or distress.

Su's work has been exhibited in the 17th Biennale of Sydney (2010), CAFA Art Museum in Beijing, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Whitechapel Gallery and Saatchi Gallery in London. Her works are held in the collection of M+ in Hong Kong and CAFA Art Museum in Beijing.

Kennis Lai | Ocula | 2018

Angela Su
featured artworks

Aster by Angela Su contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, drawing, moving image
Angela Su Aster, 2019 Ink on drafting film
119.5 x 74 cm
Asia Art Archive
Dr Trepan’s Surgical Instrument No. 4 by Angela Su contemporary artwork drawing
Angela Su Dr Trepan’s Surgical Instrument No. 4 Ink on drafting film
75 x 45 cm
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Angela Su
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Angela Su
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