Capturing the Flow
With her father from Hong Kong and mother from Macau, Cindy was raised with the culture of both cities. Imbued with memories of HK’s busy metropolitan lifestyle and Macau’s comparatively tranquil environment, Ng was drawn to the natural state of things from very early on; be it the rustling of leaves in the trees or the crashing waves of the ocean. Her sensitivity to detail and search for serenity led her naturally to the medium of ink. Mesmerized by its fluidity and strength, Ng was drawn to ink’s intriguing chemistry with paper and any medium with which it interacts.
From a family of nine children (Cindy is number seven), Cindy learned much about herself at an early age, and quickly felt impassioned by art. Cindy’s first exhibition in 1993 was ink on paper, but she had already become proficient at copperplate etching, of which she made a detailed study between 1990 and 1992. Diversity of material marks her as a pioneer, liberator of ink and trailblazer.
An artist who notices details and the feeling of flow around her – she was doing the dishes in 1992 when she was overcome by the urge to capture the flow of water, and by extension, the flow of ink and water on paper.
Directing the Action
Living in Taipei from 1998 to 2002, she experimented with the effects of ink on canvas. In 2005, she brought her desire to capture the flow of ink to the next level, filming a video of ink flowing on ceramic. This video went on to win a key award at 2nd Audiovisual Festival in Portugal. In the same year, her pioneering attitude asserted itself as she began to use milk and soy sauce on video. Rather as Alfred Hitchcock used chocolate syrup for blood in the psycho shower scene, Cindy Ng became a manipulator of consistency, speed, thickness and flow. She has continued to create video ever since.
Later, in 2006, she began to freeze the action: using photographs for the first time to capture moments where ink and water or their substitutes met and interacted. In 2014 she began depicting these images on silk, beginning at the Oriental Museum in Lisbon.
Dancing to her own Tune
From 2007 she has lived in Beijing, which formed the base for her to meet the world. New ideas for video asserted themselves, The absurdity and strangeness of living in a new city became her inspiration for a new body of video works, titled Lost and Lost 2. In the videos, Cindy’s philosophy of ink is portrayed through the fluidity and ambiguity of the smoke from the burning cigarettes. At the same time, the stillness and composure of the video directly reflects a certain calmness and observational capacity which was an aspect of Cindy’s role as an artist.
From 2008 to 2013, Cindy Ng’s videos were used extensively across China and Europe in modern dance, theatre and art galleries in live performance. The time of pure observation was drawing to an end: site-specific shows would often culminate with the artist herself pouring the liquids in front of the audience while the dancer interacted with the artwork, taking cues from Cindy’s liquid choreography.
Commissions in Glass
Cindy never abandons any medium, instead returning to different media at later stages. Ink is the constant. She observes how “ink’s personality mutates depending on the medium in which it is utilized.” Throughout her career, she has innovated with media.
Soon, glass became a further backdrop for Cindy Ng’s experimentation. Beginning in black and white – Cindy has been able to demonstrate her adaptiveness in introducing colour. Combining glass and ink has proved a dynamic catalyst for some of Cindy’s latest innovation, including a partnership with New Taipei City Hospital, Sanchong Branch, Taiwan where colour was a necessary injection of liveliness into a somber environment. A commission of great emotional importance for Cindy, it is one of many that she has been called upon to create in a variety of environments.
Cindy’s work is popular in public buildings, as well as hotels such as Grand Kempinski Hotel, Shanghai, Peninsula Hotel in Paris and Four Seasons Hotel Pudong, Shanghai. Other showcases for her work include the Cathay Pacific lounge at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and the Daidong Restaurant in New York, which is showing a bespoke video across five adjacent TV screens broadcast through their windows.
International experiences have played a decsive role in Cindy Ng’s life: her work at the Chinese Calligraphy and Paintings Collection Research of the British Museum during her stay in London from 1993 to 1994, her residency in Taiwan, and moving to Beijing have all provided inspiration. She exhibits frequently in China and further afield. Cindy Ng’s recent solo exhibitions include 2017’s Flowing Light, Riverside Art Museum, Beijing, 2016’s Romantic Rhythm, Another Art Centre, Beijing and 2015’s So Far, So Close, Orient Foundation Museum, Portugal. She has also exhibited in cities as diverse as New York City, Brisbane, Taiwan and Shanghai.
Through experimentation, repetition and a pioneering spirit, Cindy Ng has become not just a master of abstract ink, but a master of ink’s corollaries and descendents; she mixes materials, changes temperatures, consistencies and thicknesses. Like a film director she co-ordinates, meticulously plans, rehearses and executes ink in such a way that she becomes actor as well as director, finally becoming one with the ink itself.