b. 1980, Hong Kong

Chow Chun Fai Artworks

Chow Chun Fai's best-known paintings appropriate imagery from cinema and mass media to reveal the socio-political tensions facing Hong Kong today.

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Chow's earliest works draw on his experience working as a taxi driver while studying art, rendering the city landscape in soft, natural tones. Series such as 'Hong Kong Taxi' (2003–2005) and 'Hong Kong Street' (2004–2005) characterise city living from the perspective of the red taxicab, a symbol of financial independence and everyday labour.

Chow's practice also incorporates elements of photo-installation to broadly critique Western art historical narratives, often inserting his own image into works of classical fame. In Creation of Adam (2006), the original Michelangelo scene is photomontaged into a pixelated collage of 4 x 6-inch photographs, referencing David Hockney's early experimentation with the method. Chow's own face is copy-and-pasted into these glitched and fragmented images. Through inserting himself into these famous figures, Chow wittily challenges the 'international' context of Western art, claiming the imagery as his own to manipulate and reconfigure.

Painting on Movies

In his ongoing 'Painting on Movies' series, Chow paints scenes cut from classic and contemporary Hong Kong cinema. Here, he includes fragments of subtitling and their translations to create subversive commentary on Hong Kong cultural identity. Snippets of dialogue isolated from their source communicate notions of authority and nationalism, laying bare the soft power of the Sino-Hong Kong relationship.

His chosen movies typically comes from the New Wave cinema movement, but Chow also paints international films that represent Hong Kong history or culture. Chow taps into collective memories of Hong Kong, focusing particularly on text and image that explore mainland China's reclaiming of the territory in 1997. In one example, A Better Tomorrow – When We Turn to be Good We are Being Tracked (2013), a fight scene between two mafia members could be interpreted as a symbol of tension between Hong Kong and the mainland. The titular subtitle in Godfather II – Keep your friends close but your enemies closer (2018) similarly hints at this uneasy and sometimes antagonistic relationship. Chow often paints these cinematic metaphors with enamel industrial paint, emulating the gloss of the hand-painted billboards used to advertise new films.

Political Snapshots

Chow's political focus becomes even more explicit from 2019 onwards, when Chow began to apply his painterly translation of media to images from the 2019–2020 Hong Kong protests. In works such as Cross Harbour Tunnel II (2019), Press I (2020), and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University VIII (2020), Chow renders the chaos of fiery protests with lush oils. The eponymous news stories are snapshots of the political turmoil facing Hongkongers, pinpointed under Chow's incisive eye.

V for Vendetta: Symbols are given power by people by Chow Chun Fai contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Chow Chun Fai V for Vendetta: Symbols are given power by people, 2021 Acrylic and oil on canvas
39.4 x 59 inches
Eli Klein Gallery Request Price & Availability
Days of Being Wild - Minute by Chow Chun Fai contemporary artwork painting
Chow Chun Fai Days of Being Wild - Minute, 2016 Acrylic on canvas
40 x 59.9 cm
Eli Klein Gallery Request Price & Availability
A Battle of Wits, Victory will come when there is no way to retreat by Chow Chun Fai contemporary artwork painting
Chow Chun Fai A Battle of Wits, Victory will come when there is no way to retreat, 2017 Oil on canvas
68 x 100 cm
Sold
Eli Klein Gallery
Swimmer next to Star Ferry by Chow Chun Fai contemporary artwork painting
Chow Chun Fai Swimmer next to Star Ferry, 2023 Acrylic on canvas
100 x 70 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Request Price & Availability
Fat Choi Spirit 2002, at Haiphong Road 2021 by Chow Chun Fai contemporary artwork painting
Chow Chun Fai Fat Choi Spirit 2002, at Haiphong Road 2021, 2023 Acrylic on canvas
120 x 180 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Request Price & Availability
The God of Cookery 1996, at Temple Street 2021 January by Chow Chun Fai contemporary artwork painting
Chow Chun Fai The God of Cookery 1996, at Temple Street 2021 January, 2023 Acrylic on canvas, triptych
240 x 366 cm
Tang Contemporary Art Request Price & Availability
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