Spotlight

Feature Kristy M Chan’s energetic compositions

Championed by India Rose James
Visual Arts
The Wick - Chandelier and Dim Sum Buffet by Kristy M Chan
Above  Chandelier and Dim Sum Buffet by Kristy M Chan
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The Wick - Kristy M Chan
Above  Kristy M Chan
Interview
Kristy M Chan
01 February 2022
Interview
Kristy M Chan
01 February 2022
The founder and curator of Soho Revue gallery, India Rose James’s desire to address the absence of female artists within the contemporary art world and showcase their often-disregarded talent was the driving force behind her latest series of women-only exhibitions. Following the Covid-19 pandemic, Soho Revue reopened with the Femme-Ate exhibition, drawing on Soho’s history of showcasing women. Thesmophoria followed in October 2021, in support of the Women for Women’s Afghanistan relief fund to help women survivors of war, and An Arcadian Kind of Love will be exhibited this month, in support of Choose Love.
Over the years India has championed a number of emerging artists and An Arcadian Kind of Love will see her continue to shine a light on the energetic and autobiographical compositions of Kristy M Chan.

James says: “I first came across Kristy M Chan via Instagram during the first lockdown in London. I was instantly taken by her use of colours and textures. I managed to acquire a work and instantly installed it on the stairs in my house. Every time I walked past, I fell more and more in love, and I knew I had to reach out to her. An Arcadian Kind of Love is now our second show together and it’s been such a special experience to see her develop and play a part in that story. Kristy’s work has been shown around the globe with many future projects in the pipeline.”

Chan splits her time between Hong Kong and London and her painting process, which she refers to as “irrational conversion” revisits incidents and emotions she has encountered. Through her bold and kaleidoscopic palette, she explores the spectacle of city life from an outsider’s perspective and how her identity is informed by both Eastern and Western cultures.

James says: “Departing from surreal and dizzying junctures in contemporary life, Chan describes her works as ‘stolen realities’. Predominately working with densely applied oil and oil stick, Chan’s paintings are a visual archive of intense personal interactions situated amongst the fleeting dynamism of the city.”

These encounters and moments of inspiration can be anything and everything – from the dynamics in the gym to even the Chuckle Brothers! Chan says: “Everyday life [inspires me], people I hang around with, and in a way, British humour. I came to the UK to study my A-levels in 2014. It was really awful, and I felt so out of place, and humour was something that I hid behind until very recently. It then became a part of me, and I use it in my works. I laugh at my own jokes then I put them in my iPhone notes as a painting idea. I had a conversation about the amount of time we spend waiting for parcels, that’s a feeling I want to paint about. I also want to paint about being allergic to cats, it’s probably going to be titled ‘Allergic to Beethoven’ (Beethoven is a cat that I know). I was carrying a two-metre mirror across Kennington with a friend, Jay. He said it reminded him of ChuckleVision, where they go ‘to you, to me’. I want to paint about that too.”

Before getting the chance to finally return home to Hong Kong in 2023, Chan has a packed year of group and solo shows ahead, starting with An Arcadian Kind of Love at Soho Revue on February 2 and finishing with a residency at The Cabin LA in December, with stops in Berlin and Beijing along the way.

About the champion

The Wick - India Rose James

After studying Fine Art at City & Guilds, India Rose James turned her attention to curation and has championed a number of emerging artists who have gone on to achieve global success. In 2015, she directed an exhibition of works from Gabriella Boyd, Alison Bignon and Walter Hugo & Zoniel. In 2019, she also launched the Soho Revue gallery, which operates on a greatly reduced commission structure to better benefit and support emerging artists.

“It’s been such a special experience to see [Chan] develop and play a part in that story.”

Place of Birth

Hong Kong.

Education

BA in Fine Art at Slade School of Fine Art, University College London (2019) and MA from Sotheby’s Institute of Art (2020).

Current exhibitions

An Arcadian Kind of Love at Soho Revue, London, a group show with Tabula Rasa Gallery, Beijing and solo shows at Prior Art Space, Berlin, The Cabin, Los Angeles and The Artist Room, London.

Spiritual guides, Mentors

Milo and Laurie at The Artist Room. I’ve never felt so supported as an artist. I annoy them about everything: advice, books to read, shows to see, food to eat.

Advice

When a work frustrates you, that’s when you progress in your artistic practice. The reason why it frustrates you is because you hold yourself to a high standard. It’s important to accept frustration as a part of growth and try not to beat yourself up. Breathe, and work your way through. (From a conversation with Noah El Hachem when we were both at Slade, potentially with a cookie in one hand and a brush in another.)


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