Ora-Ora is pleased to announce its first solo show by multi-disciplinary Hong Kong artist Sophie Cheung Hing Yee. The exhibition runs from August 24 to September 25, 2022.
Titled Erasing Time, Sophie Cheung investigates states of “in betweenness,” incarnating situations of permanent uncertainty, and breathing life into transience and ephemerality. In so doing, she dismantles seemingly inevitable, unmoveable forces of time and location, offering alternative perceptions of the world, and new possibilities.
A life-long advocate and activist for disability rights and mental health causes, Sophie Cheung’s practice undermines perceived boundaries and demarcations, empowering the inanimate or overlooked with properties of agency and self-determination.
In subtle allusion to the Chinese proverb of crossing the river by feeling the stones, she seeks pathways which navigate their way between past and present, between her home and other places she has lived, and between opposite viewpoints of history and current affairs. Her artworks are in a state of motion, not inhabiting either pole, merging time and place and forging new ways forward.
Sophie Cheung invests items of mundanity with eerie charisma. Artworks including Erasing News: Flash of Light (2022) were completed during her master’s degree at Goldsmiths in London. The artwork constitutes 600 erasers with the newsprint of UK newspapers published between December, 2021 and March, 2022. The act of rubbing newspapers with erasers involves the transference of ink from the former entity to the latter. This is a transformative process for the two protagonists, a simultaneous effort of addition and subtraction of matter. The erasers, at first with the distant impenetrability of stone or marble, gradually reveal their softness, and their inherent imperfections upon contact. Responding to the urgency of news across the political spectrum with a simple act of erasing, Sophie Cheung both preserves and eradicates. As if urging calm by force majeure, she intervenes to lessen the impact of the written message whilst elevating its materiality into an object of artistic scrutiny.
The erasers become subjects of their own destiny, capable of eliciting empathy. Like bars of soap, they occupy the space between hard and soft, they lose their shape and strength even as they take on the characteristics of the bodies they interact with. Coming together in one artwork, they assume a group identity whilst retaining their individual stories and motives. The result hovers between the past and the present, a synthesis of viewpoints, sorrows and celebrations, merged into a state which is constantly temporary.
As a counterpoint to the UK-sourced publications, Erasing News: Eternal Colour (2022) is composed of ink erased from Hong Kong newspapers, created on the artist’s return to her home city, a time of fresh energy, reappraisal and inspiration. Erasing News: London Hue (2021) combines the newsprint of both cities. The cacophony of history, alternate vantage points and strident assertions is synthesized, reduced and commemorated in a state of suspension. Existential threats, discord, dissent and division are silenced but leave their trace. Ranged together in a frame, the united front of the erasers is a unity that contains the constant threat of breaking apart.
There are several artworks within the show which extend the concept further. Vicissitude I and II (2022) and Frozen Fire (2021) are ballpoint pen drawings directly onto the eraser. The works exploit the unique materiality of the surface, which dissolves ball pen ink and transform its presence into new colours. Red, when applied, takes on the shimmering hue of the light at sunset or sunrise over the skies of London; black is transformed into blue, redolent of the still popular chinoiserie designs of UK domestic crockery.
Vestiges of the past come forward ineluctably, with occasional residues of the shan shui landscapes and ceramics of the classical past visible in her work. Consistent with the artist’s unwillingness to accept confines of time and place, the use of ink is a recognition and realization of the validity of heritage and history. The versatility of the medium mirrors the millennia-old journey of ink itself, with the eraser converting the prosaic and the tangible into abstract formations.