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Henry Shum Biography

Emerging Hong Kong artist Henry Shum produces luminous dream-like oil paintings in which carefully balanced layers of colour bleed together to create an ethereal three-dimensionality.

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Born in Hong Kong, Henry Shum moved to London to study fine art at Chelsea College of Arts. Emerging with a BA in 2020, he opened Vortices—his first solo show, and first show in Hong Kong—at Empty Gallery in the same year, selling out before the exhibition closed. Fast finding an audience, his work was included in Art Basel and Fine Art Asia's Hong Kong Spotlight, and he was selected by Stephanie Bailey for Ocula Magazine as one of six highlight artists of the event.

Henry Shum's paintings are captivating and mysterious. He works in a palette of mostly blue, orange, and brown, with hints of green. He renders each image with restrained gestural drips, stains, and veil-like washes that bleed together to create a three-dimensional effect akin to looking at watery reflections in a pool. His calm style lends a hazy, surreal quality and pulsating rhythm to the image.

The contents of Henry Shum's artwork ranges from the abstract, mystical, and surreal, to familiar images of art history. In Double of a Composition (2019) reality devolves into abstract splashes of colour and light. In Dream Construction (2020), a more figurative yet surreal narrative emerges in collisions between ghostly apparitions. Woman and Child (2019), meanwhile, draws upon a historically popular motif: a woman lovingly bears a baby in her arms.

Shum's interest in architecture becomes a connecting point in some of his works to traverse the cosmic realities he explores. The arch—with its spiritual associations that mark sacred places, natural and man-made—is a theme that runs through some of his paintings, such as Woman and Child, Annunciation (2020) and Ancient of Days (Descending Elephant Fish) (2020).

The arch connects to a broader semi-spiritual theme in Henry Shum's work, manifesting thresholds and the traversal between dimensions and realities. These ideas are presented in the painting Vortices (2020), in which five transparent figures gather round an equally transparent balloon-like form amidst a blue whirlpool, reflective of the cosmic meaning of the work's title, like a portal to other dimensions.

Enjoying tangible commercial success during his first solo show in Hong Kong, Shum's distinct style is making its mark early in his career.

Henry Shum Exhibitions include:

Vortices, Empty Gallery, Hong Kong (2020); Mankind is a God in Ruin, Candid Arts, London (2020); I opened myself up to the gentle indifference of the world, Fitzrovia Gallery, London (2019); Blurred Boundaries, Bones and Pearl Gallery, London (2018).

Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2020

Henry Shum Featured Artworks

View All (16)
Memory Fallacy by Henry Shum contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Henry ShumMemory Fallacy, 2021Oil on canvas
120 x 80 x 3 cm
Andrew Kreps Gallery Contact Gallery
Sol by Henry Shum contemporary artwork painting
Henry ShumSol, 2021Oil on canvas
120 x 80 x 3 cm
Andrew Kreps Gallery Contact Gallery
Women and Child at Dinner Table by Henry Shum contemporary artwork painting
Henry ShumWomen and Child at Dinner Table, 2017Painting
81.8 x 122.6 x 5.6 cm
Sold
Empty Gallery
Light of Fireflies (Aquis Submersus) by Henry Shum contemporary artwork painting
Henry ShumLight of Fireflies (Aquis Submersus), 2020Oil on canvas
185.3 x 125.1 x 5.6 cm
Sold
Empty Gallery
Men at Dinner Table by Henry Shum contemporary artwork painting
Henry ShumMen at Dinner Table, 2018Oil on canvas
121.2 x 81.2 x 5.6 cm
Sold
Empty Gallery
Double of a Composition by Henry Shum contemporary artwork painting
Henry ShumDouble of a Composition, 2019Oil on canvas
91.2 x 61.2 x 5.6 cm
Sold
Empty Gallery
Woman and Child by Henry Shum contemporary artwork painting
Henry ShumWoman and Child, 2019Oil on canvas
91.2 x 61.2 x 5.6 cm
Sold
Empty Gallery
New Sun by Henry Shum contemporary artwork painting
Henry ShumNew Sun, 2020Oil on canvas
121.2 x 81.2 x 5.6 cm
Sold
Empty Gallery

Henry Shum Recent Exhibitions

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