In the studio with Jade Ching-yuk Ng, whose soft, intricate works emboss the fragility of a physical intimate relationship between herself and others. We met with Jade to tell us more about growing up in Hong Kong, their greatest influences, and unexpected sources of inspiration.
When did you first begin to see yourself as an artist?
When I first had my part time job at a cafe as a teen, I started comparing myself with the people around me. I didn’t want my life to just work for the sake of working. I knew I wanted to create knowledge rather than working for an existed system. Since I believed art is the way to be free as a human, I guess I began to see myself as an artist at that time.
Where are you from and what was your upbringing like?
I am from Hong Kong. I think my parents were quite carefree. They were always busy at work and I either played by myself or with my siblings. I felt my parents didn’t really instruct me that much how to behave or process things around me. This has probably made me to seek out or develop my own way to deal with reality. I was never close to my parents as I was raised by another family when I was a toddler until the age of three. I guess that impacted my interest in search of intimacy among people, which is something quite dominant in my practice.
Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. What inspired you to first pursue, and then continue to practice, artistic work?
Many dark sides of the world that we are living in now inspired me to pursue. I don’t want to sound like a saviour here. But I always believe when you have anger or disappointment towards things around you, they drive me to imagine a better world that we could be in. I want my work to project at least a glimpse of hope.
I don’t think artists should ever feel they are on the ‘right’ track because I think it doesn’t really exist. Because it does sound like the word of ‘right’ equivalent to ‘content’. I guess my moment of ‘right’ should be the time when I feel so uncertain and fearful about what I am making. This drives me to challenge what I made before.
What’s the message of your work? How would you describe your aesthetic?
To blow up intimate relationships in between myself and others, to search for freedom, desire and love. My aesthetic would be neo-classical with a surrealistic approach.
Who/what are your greatest influences?
Michelangelo Antonioni, Wong Kar-wai, Jean Baudrillard, Arthur Rimbaud, Michael Haneke, Chantal Akerman.
An unexpected source of inspiration?
The seagull ate my pizza in Venice.
What do you want people to take from your work when they view it?
I want my work to be open to any kind of audience even though I had initiatives when I started making a piece of work. I want the audience to engage my work based on their experiences rather than what is given by me directly. I think the sensations and tensions in my work are the most important rather than their contents.
What events in your life have mobilised change in your practise/aesthetic? How has your art evolved? Do you experiment?
Actually too many! Maybe I should just say a few of them. When I was doing my BA at the Slade, travelling with one of my friends back then to North and Central Africa grounded my practise. When I was doing my MA in Print at the RCA, my approach towards painting changed again. Then I went to Rome, the architecture there influences how I created work. I would say my work is talking about one long story evolving around love but I am using so many different ways to tell this story.
What are your ideal conditions or catalyst for creating a “good” piece of work?
Something in the future you hope to explore?
I have recently returned back to painting on canvas after focusing three years just in prints. As I do admire the possibilities of such a simple, magical medium, I want to bring in a new approach from prints onto painting. Especially creating a lot of wood reliefs last year, I hope I could extend the relief elements onto canvases. Also, I still think my techniques of paintings are quite limited. I always feel my paintings are warrior-like. Sometimes, I am jealous of painters around me who are able to use washy colours to create a transparent, poetic and soft painting.
Tell us about the inspiration behind one of your works?
When I was making this series of consigned work, I wanted to create the softness and fragility of some physical intimate relationships around us. I used quite a lot of sources such as myths and anatomy to form most of these pictures. The figures are disembodied, which to me they are an assembly of myself and others’ body puzzles. I was also drawn into picture framing because of my 2 years education in printmaking. I wanted my engraved frames to be a gesture of embrace to the picture.