Hong Kong Art Week has just passed and it’s time to recap on all the events! First up, there was Hong Kong artist Ng Lung Wai’s week-long exhibition at Comix Home Base. Big Era – 1960s World Celebrity Portrait Exhibition showed a small number of works, but they were all fun and memorable.
I’ve always loved artworks that are put together with many details, so when you zoom in, you see all the different pieces that make up the artwork. Ng does just that by using his very well-stocked collection of pins, badges, stamps and other collectibles to create large portraits of iconic figures in the 1960s. Quotes by each figure add a nice touch to the artworks.
It had just rained when I arrived and this exhibition was actually held at Comix Home Base’s Outdoor Open Space. All the artworks had a little shelter so they wouldn’t get wet except for the giant Elvis Presley portrait set out on the ground. The descriptions on the ground in front of the works had small puddles on them, and cleaners were walking around mopping the rainwater away. Definitely a new experience of viewing artworks, haha!
The Elvis Presley piece is made up of metal mosaics though, and I wonder if they had to be wiped dry later to prevent rusting or whatever…
Ng Lung Wai, The portrait of Mao Zedong, 2013, vintage European stickpin badges on canvas
We are not only good at destroying the old world, we are also good at building the new!
Ng Lung Wai, The portrait of Audrey Hepburn, 2012, vintage European stickpin badges on canvas
Nothing is impossible, the word says ‘I’m possible’!
I love how the colors of the portraits of Mao Zedong and Audrey Hepburn really pop with Ng’s use of vintage European badges. When seen close up, it’s hard to tell which part of the portrait you’re looking at (the closeups shown are the side of Mao’s face and Audrey’s eye) but I found it fun to see what the words and pictures on the individual badges were. When seen farther away, the colors blend together and you will only see the portrait itself!
Ng Lung Wai, The portrait of John F. Kennedy, 2014, wooden tokens on frame
Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.
The portrait of John F. Kennedy is pretty much entirely brown and is a little dark, but the shift in color tones is done so well.
Ng Lung Wai, The portrait of Che Guevara, 2012, wooden clothespins on frame
Many will call me an adventurer – and that I am, only one of a different sort: one of those who risks his skin to prove his platitudes.
I love this! A large part due to the fact that this portrait is made up of clothespins, it’s ingenious.
Ng Lung Wai, The portrait of John Lennon, 2014, Hong Kong generic stamps on frame
As usual, there is a great woman behind every idiot.
The portrait of John Lennon has a bit of Hong Kong in it, being made up of old Hong Kong stamps with portraits of Queen Elizabeth II. I didn’t like this much as much as the rest because it felt a little flat and the colors didn’t pop very well, but I liked the meta with portraits within a portrait.
Ng Lung Wai, The portrait of Elvis Presley, 2015, metal mosaics of Marilyn Monroe on wood board
The image is one thing and the human being is another. It’s very hard to live up to an image, put it that way.
Ng continues with the meta but does it to a more effective scale with The portrait of Elvis Presley. I was so surprised when I went up close to this giant portrait and saw the many faces of Marilyn Monroe! It’s even better when seen from three floors above (in the cover picture).
Ng Lung Wai, The portrait of Marilyn Monroe, 2015, oil on canvas
Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.
Speaking of Marilyn Monroe, here she is! I was wondering what this portrait was made of, until I read the description and it wrote oil on canvas! Absolutely stunning.
The portrait of Audrey Hepburn was Ng’s first piece in this 1960s series, so the series is still relatively new. I would love to see more, these pieces are so fun! These days, you can find so much fan art and celebrity portraits online but it’s always hard to get the look perfectly right, and even then, capture the essence of the person in a drawing. Ng manages to do so with his collectibles and with such large-scale portraits, which I find really impressive and refreshing.
Learn more about Ng’s work in his interview with China Daily Asia Pacific:
To find out more about Ng and this exhibition, check out the exhibition’s website here.