Kristy M Chan
Kristy M Chan’s (b. 1997) hologram-like work explores the notions of humour and displacement. Dense with information and odd depictions of her environment, Chan’s work reflects on her upbringing in Hong Kong and the experience of migration. It explores the act of locating the notion of “home” and its relationship with its cultural geographies. Chan describes these abstracted spaces as “stolen realities”, perhaps a parallax of reality through irrational conversion, and an intentional analysis of Chan’s identity and wit, diffracted by paint. Her work acts as a visual archive of mundanity where giddy interactions and internal jokes are reterritorialised in a new space, allowing new perspectives. These “stolen realities” also ponder on the notion of the presentness within minute events, encouraging an appreciative perspective towards the mundane. Chan is a London and Hong Kong-based painter and filmmaker. She has exhibited internationally across the UK, Europe and Asia, with representation in New York and Dubai. She has been invited to several residencies in Finland, the UK and Germany, and soon in Chile and Italy, enhancing her fascination with migration and displacement. She received a First-Class Honours Bachelor’s Degree from the Slade School of Fine Art in 2019, and Masters in Contemporary Art at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art, 2020.
What’s your background?
I’m originally from Hong Kong and came to the UK for A-Levels in 2014, which is where I fell in love with painting. I’d practically hide in the Art Department painting whenever I can, and would go into the department in the morning before breakfast/ school starts. I then graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art in 2019, and have been working, living and studying in London ever since.
What does art mean to you?
Art to me is everything that exists. Everything is a form of art and they all deserve to be appreciated as long as we’re willing to access it.
How did you start making art/Why do you make art?
Being a very opinionated person, art started off as a way for me to express my emotions and some unpopular opinions. It then became my visual memory archive where displaced imageries are merged together, kind of like a jigsaw puzzle that only I have the box to and I’m the only person who knows about the full picture. It can be something really political or controversial, or as minute as grocery shopping or a dream I had about shoes. I make art simply because I enjoy the process of it, and it communicates through symbols and colours which is universal, just like musical scores.
What inspires you? What are your biggest influences?
My surroundings inspire me. There’s this element of consent which I find interesting, as I choose to surround myself with certain things or be in a certain area, and there might be times where it’s intrusive but I happen to be there and experienced it, as a result, the desire to record and document those moments. It’s also about appreciating what’s around me, from the sainsbury’s store that is super close to home, the pillow I’m leaning on so my back doesn’t hurt, to me being fortunate enough to be healthy, and in London doing what I love.
What’s the best thing about being an artist?
The ability to use art to communicate without needing to verbally do so. And you’re doing what you love doing. It could be tough sometimes, but ultimately, there’s a reason why artists are still making art, simply because it’s the best way to express yourself.
What gives you the most joy?
Considering the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic, what do you think is the impact on the art world and how could we overcome it?
COVID-19 really pushed the digital art world forward which is rather great. It creates such a brilliant platform for emerging artists and galleries are more willing to take risks to give smaller artists more exposure. The amount of digital galleries being doubtful about going digital no longer are in doubt. It just normalised a platform that lots of people were skeptical about and it makes art so much more accessible as it removes the barrier/ fear of walking into a white cube gallery and all the gallery etiquettes and unspoken rules that comes with it. It’s also incredible to see the art world really coming together as a community as we’re all desperate to go out and see art! But it does suck that it took a pandemic and tragedies all around the world to cause this progression.