Lam Tung Pang is a Hong Kong multidisciplinary artist and the first Chinese artist to win the Hunting Art Prize, in 2005. Best known for his large-scale paintings on plywood, his use of diverse media and subject matter are at first glance playfully ambivalent, but always rooted in themes of the artist's often highly personal observations of time and place.Read More
Lam was born in Hong Kong in 1978 and remembers his first encounters with art as a brief interlude with calligraphy and the works of Picasso and van Gogh throughout primary and high school. He completed a BFA at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2002. His education allowed him to explore a variety of styles; he studied Chinese calligraphy and Sanskrit along with modern art.
Lam's urge to 'escape' his hometown, driven by the lack of prospects to become a full-time artist in Hong Kong, came at the completion of his degree. He moved to London in 2004, where he completed his Masters in Fine Art at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Lam completed his studies in a year but remained in London for two years after, where he encountered a 'closeness' with the art he learned about in his undergraduate studies; art that went beyond the aesthetic value. The impetus to look at the art surrounding him drove his practice from that point; he was in pursuit of 'local resources'—whether that be a museum's local collection or found objects in the form of stickers or toys.
Lam lives and works in Hong Kong.
Lam considers himself both the 'writer and reader' of what he creates, inviting the viewer into non-linear narratives created by his immersive series. His distinct bodies of work are always inspired by his observations and memories of his immediate surroundings, and he often blends traditional and non-traditional media.
Lam initially gained recognition as a painter, using a minimal and playful approach to dwell on the act of observation itself. Balcony 11a (2005), completed in his years in London, shows a charcoal and ink line drawing of a lone figure staring out across a balcony. Another figure, regarding the moon, is shown in Post-mind (2003). Both drawn on plywood in large scale, Lam aimed to show both distance and closeness in the act of looking, mirroring his process as an artist—creating a 'visual conversation' between his own personal experiences and a more universally-regarded truth.
In 2012, Lam was awarded a fellowship by the Asian Cultural Council; a residency in New York with the aim of visiting American museums to see their Chinese and Japanese paintings. What resulted instead was a 2013 installation that transformed his apartment into a semi-public space with collaborations from friends and strangers, documenting his experience in the American city. The space was covered with drawings, objects and pieces of writing—one of which, 'One country, one system', was scrawled on the toilet bowl—all appearing as if organically sprouting from the walls themselves.
The project grew into a series called The Curiosity Box (2013), which included an iteration in San Francisco and then finally in Lam's home of Hong Kong, exhibited as The Hometown Tourist (2015). In this final stage of the project, the artist moved into Wan Chai's New Capital Hotel for five weeks in order to recreate the sense of estrangement he felt in New York City. The installation reflected on the dramatic changes occurring around him in Hong Kong's changing socio-political environment, leading to 2047, when its independence from China is set to expire.
Building from the cyclical narrative he began in The Curiosity Box, Lam created the series Saan Dung Gei (2019) for Blindspot Gallery in Hong Kong with curator Abby Chen, who he met in San Francisco. The works were inspired by a train journey on the newly instated high-speed railway from Hong Kong to Beijing, which features 20 minutes of below-ground darkness.
Landscape in this series became metaphorical for the body and the existential darkness he felt along his journey; represented in Landscape in operation (2018) by surgeons looming over hills and trees. Time was also paused in the gallery, represented in the looping video A Day of two Suns (2019) and OTALEO clock (2019), a clock which never reaches 12, permanently stuck before reaching a new day.
In 2011, Lam created the mural Centuries of Hong Kong for a meeting room at the Hong Kong Legislative Council. In 2016, he created a mural for the Whampoa MTR Station with local primary school children, digitally collaging their work. In 2018, Lam worked with 'COLLECTIVE' to create the Wavy Weaving Wall, taking inspiration from Hong Kong's textile industry.
In 2000, Lam was a Nokia Art Awards–Asia Pacific 2000 Hong Kong Finalist, and he was awarded Outstanding Artistic Expression. In 2001, he won the Cheung's Fine Arts Award from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and in 2002, the Raymond Wood Creative Prize from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
In 2003, he won the Arts Scholarship from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. In 2004, Lam won the Young Artist's Prize from Chichester Open Art and in 2005, he won the Young Artist of the Year, Hunting Art Prize. In 2006, Lam won the Schoeni Prize from the Sovereign Asian Art Prize and became Artist in Residence at the Department of Philosophy at Lingnan University, Hong Kong.
In 2007, he was a finalist in the Philippe Charriol Foundation Art Competition and in 2009 he won the Hong Kong Contemporary Art Biennial Award. In 2012, he won the Outstanding Contributions to the Development of Arts and Culture Award from the Secretary for Home Affairs, Hong Kong. In 2013, Lam won Best Artist (Visual Arts) from the Hong Kong Arts Development Awards.
Lam Tung Pang has been the subject of both solo exhibitions and group exhibitions. Solo exhibitions include Wavy Weaving Wall, The Park, The Mills, Hong Kong (2018); Tai Kwun Opening Exhibition, Tai Kwun, Hong Kong (2018); Fragmentation, Chambers Fine Art, Beijing (2017); Hi! Houses, Old House at Wong Uk Village, Hong Kong (2017); Toys Stop, chi K11 Art Space, Hong Kong (2016).
Group exhibitions include Transitions, Chambers Fine Art, New York (2017); Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture, Shenzhen, China (2017); The Shadow Never Lies, Shanghai 21st Century Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai (2016); Next Destination: Hong Kong, Sotheby's Hong Kong (2016); China 8: Overview – Views of China, NRW Forum, Düsseldorf (2013-15).
Lam Tung Pang's website can be found here and his Instagram can be found here.
Annie Curtis | Ocula | 2021