Wed, Sep 30, 2009 - Page 15 News List

ART JOURNAL: A rose by any other name

Szeto Keung’s recent paintings make use of a timeless symbol to represent his longing for home

By Noah Buchan  /  STAFF REPORTER

As with the earlier “broken pieces,” the rose symbolizes an aspect of the artist’s state of mind. It sometimes flowers in creative bursts of energy (Fire (火)) while at other times it wilts on the vine (Sacred Relics 1 (舍利1)). Another painting, (Black Hole (黑洞)), features petals floating across the expanse of abstract space, which symbolizes the artist’s rootlessness.

Eslite Gallery’s exhibition literature interprets the abstract background literally, as if titles such as Black Hole refer to scientific phenomena. I disagree. Szeto’s concerns are purely human-oriented (whether love, religion or art) with center stage given to the limitless expanse of the human imagination and its ability to reinvent itself and overcome the endless cycle of doubt that artists encounter in their professional and personal lives.

Whereas Szeto’s earlier paintings tried to make sense of space and his experience as an expatriate, the rose is a symbol of a homeland with all the security and predictability that Szeto has left behind. Although he may view his paintings as failures, they must be considered beautiful ones for their sublime execution and the tempestuous frustrations that will certainly speak to any person who has lived abroad for an extended period of time.

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