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‘An Opera for Animals’ at Rockbund Art Museum Ocula Report ‘An Opera for Animals’ at Rockbund Art Museum 19 Jul 2019 : Penny Liu for Ocula

An Opera for Animals was first staged at Para Site in Hong Kong between 23 March and 2 June 2019, with works by over 48 artists and collectives that use opera as a metaphor for modes of contemporary, cross-disciplinary art-making. The exhibition's second iteration takes up a large portion of the Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) in Shanghai (22 June–25...

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Mandy El-Sayegh: Productive Ambiguity Ocula Conversation Mandy El-Sayegh: Productive Ambiguity

Moving across installation, painting, drawing, and writing, Malaysia-born and London-based artist Mandy El-Sayegh explores the political, social, and economic complexities of humanity, using a mosaic of information—from advertising slogans and pornographic imagery to newspaper articles—that she subjects to processes of layering,...

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Get Up, Stand Up Now: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers at Somerset House Ocula Report Get Up, Stand Up Now: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers at Somerset House 5 Jul 2019 : Jareh Das for Ocula

Get Up Stand Up Now: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers at Somerset House in London (12 June–15 September 2019) surveys more than half a century of black creativity in Britain and beyond across the fields of art, film, photography, music, design, fashion, and literature.Curated by Zak Ové, works by approximately 100 intergenerational black...

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Ocula Insight

Kenneth Blom at Pékin Fine Arts, Hong Kong

Katie Fallen 4 December 2015
Kenneth Blom. Courtesy Pékin Fine Arts. 

Having already shown extensively in Europe, the Danish artist, Kenneth Blom (b. 1967), has brought his paintings to Asia for the first time with a solo-exhibition at Pékin Fine Arts, Hong Kong.  With a clear signature style, Blom’s melancholic architectural, figurative and landscape paintings cast a cool blue light across the gallery space. On the eve of the opening, Ocula sat down with the artist to discuss his practice and continued dedication to his medium.

Walking into the gallery space, your personal aesthetic is particularly strong. Please could you explain your process of creation?

The process always begins with a strong composition, making up the circles and lines, and then at the end I put in the people … it all depends on the composition. So in a way I work abstractly when I do these things; I’m not a figurative painter when I do the process but it ends up being that. 

So does the imagery come from your imagination rather than reality?

No, it’s a mix. I mean you walk around, you see people as you do now [points to the exhibition], but it’s a mix between fantasy and reality. I need [people] to be alive. I need them to start to walk, to fight, to kiss, to scream. In a way it’s a real life story I’ve tried to talk about, but it’s not from [the] real. Mostly I don’t use models; I just use the idea. 

Exhibition view: Kenneth Blom, Theater of Operations, 2015. Image courtesy Pékin Fine Arts, Hong Kong. 

Your earlier works are very traditional, figurative images. Did you start by drawing and painting from life models initially?

Yes. I had a straight academic education, but since I was fifteen I have always loved Danish farmer paintings … the lonely boy standing on the road—it went to me directly. And when I was studying art in Düsseldorf, it was quite another stage of art: conceptual, rough work, reduced installations. We went to this big show in Copenhagen, and I remember I just couldn’t get it, so I went back to [painting] private small rooms. So I’m a rather old fashioned painter, but I see now that painting changes all the time, and that’s why I love the medium.

You say your paintings are old-fashioned; they also appear quite distant, almost dystopian.

You can use painting—and this is why I think it’s so important—to give [the viewer] a little break; it stops time for just a little while. You can walk into a gallery and be quiet in front of a painting. It gives a little break from the rushing time. I love that this medium [does that].

Kenneth Blom, Once, 2015. Painting, 80 cm x 100 cm. Image courtesy Pékin Fine Arts, Hong Kong. 

While many other artists jump between video and installation, painting and sculpture you religiously remain a painter. What is it about the medium that appeals so much?

I think it’s just like going into a friendship for a long time—it creates a special kind of friendship. You can also have friends that maybe last for two weeks, which are also interesting, but there’s something about working for a period and going really into the stuff.  Now we have to be careful because you can choose to do both dancing and making art, or sound and installation, or theatre, whatever, which is right. I love to paint so I thought, well I think I’m going to paint for some years now and see what that is, and I couldn’t stop. So you lose something by doing that, but you also gain something; you’re in focus your whole life.  I am trying to make the best painting and then I will quit; it won’t happen (laughs). —[O]

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