Chris Huen Sin Kan: Puzzled Daydreams

15 June - 3 July 2020

Simon Lee Gallery is proud to present Puzzled Daydreams, a solo exhibition by Hong Kong-based artist Chris Huen Sin Kan. Bringing together new paintings and works on paper, this exhibition launches Simon Lee Gallery’s new Online Viewing Room, and will available to view exclusively online from Friday 3 April.

Huen’s largescale oil paintings are derived from observation of his own life, portraying quotidian experiences through a fresh set of aesthetic strategies that bring the domestic and surreal into compelling partnership. His technique, imbued with both deft abstraction and the hallmarks of traditional Chinese ink painting, involves layering one dab of paint over another until the pattern on the canvas echoes the spirit of the scene. The blank spaces and fragmented forms give voice to a specific moment and the way it exists, or perhaps escapes the artist’s consciousness.

From his studio in leafy Yuen Long, north of the dense urban centre of Kowloon, Huen depicts a cast of recurring characters including his wife Haze, two children, and dogs Balltsz, Muimui and Doodood. His dream-like pictures evolve organically and haphazardly; the artist forgoes underdrawings and sketches, and rather than paint from a photograph or from the scene itself, favours intuition by opting to eternalise transient moments from feeling and memory. Depicting what has been seen but perhaps forgotten, Huen’s intuitive exploration of perception flows with a deep sensitivity and alchemy of recognition, attaining a specific resonance steeped in individual sensation and shared experience.

In his new work, Huen investigates the ‘specious present’, a concept first defined by E. Robert Kelley in the 19th century. The present is experienced via the accumulation of every passing second; it is a past so recent that while we term it as the present, it would be better explained as the ‘specious present’. As such, the ‘specious present’ is a collection of all the moments that make up the short duration of which we suppose ourselves to be constantly sensible. The same phenomena occur with sight. As we look into space – especially a space in which no specific event occurs – we establish our understanding of what’s in front of us by bringing together different perceptions from disparate, very recent moments. This theory resonates with Huen’s own impression of how we experience time and space, as explored by the tumbling perspective and all-over composition of his paintings.