Jade Ching-yuk Ng
Jade Ching-yuk Ng (b. 1992, Hong Kong) is an interdisciplinary artist who is currently based in London. She is a BA graduate of the Slade School of Fine Art in 2016 and obtained her MA printmaking course at the Royal College of Art in 2018. She is a recipient of Cass Art Painting Prize in 2016, Travers Smith Art Award in 2018 and Abbey Major Painting Scholarship in 2018 at the British School at Rome. Jade has exhibited at San Mei Gallery, Cornucopia Gallery, Whitechapel 46, Siegfried Contemporary, British School At Rome, Academia Di Romania a Roma, among others. A selection of her works are currently in a private collection of the chair of Penguin Random House.
Jade is interested in quoting the essence of touch and separation at a moment in time. Often revolving around personal travel experience, classical myth, alchemy, religious rituals and anatomy as references, Jade deconstructs their symbolism by attaching her own interpretation, and her symbols seem to depart from their literal connotations into an obscure and ambiguous fiction. The agency of framing becomes a gesture of embracing, defining actual and pictorial surrealistic space. The essence of modernist architecture influences how she constructs and adds odds to her composition in the picture. She develops them into printmaking, painting, sculptural painting and most recently cut-outs and wood reliefs.
What is your typical creative process and how do you form your compositions?
I always start with many quick sketches because I often find it liberating when I am working on paper. These drawings are quite messy but I feel they have helped me a lot to let my hands and eyes guide the image unconsciously. They are the most immediate and capture a moment of time when I am in the studio. They lay around everywhere and I sometimes revisit an old drawing that I made by overlapping with the new ones. I see this process as intimate and nostalgic because they turn into a visual journal of my everyday life. Then I developed them into engraved reliefs or another maquette for a bigger painting. I feel once I started making a piece of work, everything begins to come along naturally. It seems to be a constant conversation in between the inner self and my own hands. Recently, I have been really into how lights perform when it bounces onto an object, especially transparent objects like wine glass or fish bowl, and figures. These lights in my works are often exaggerated and staged-like. Light is something so abstract. We can see it but we can’t hold it, just like air. The contrast between darkness and brightness turns into my lately structure to give weighs to a piece of work.
Where do the titles of your works come from? Is there a story behind each one?
They come from many different sources but I always avoid having a literal title. I prefer leaving ambiguity to the work. Films I watched, poems I read or even just a conversation I had with my closed ones about our mutual experience, inspire the titles of most works. I sometimes like stealing quotes from a writer called Alfred Jarry who wrote a lot about pataphysics to form titles. He was a truly symbolist and had a lot of surreal and mysterious poems. I had a piece of work, Walking through the Veins of a Cabbage Leaf (2018), which is also taken from one of his works.
Each one definitely has it own story behind! Narrative is a big part of my work. They reflect things and emotions that I have gone through. I always need to experience something first before I can actually extend it into a genuine story. For example, I love using strangers I came across with during travelling to form titles such as The Feast of Doctor Arash (2018) which is about an Iranian man who dreamt to be a mathematician but life drives him into a different path. The essence of people’s auras becomes characters in my work. It is a bit like when you are playing a video game that you can choose to dress up a character. All stories seem to be this role-play in between the imaginary/real people and myself. My approach is strongly affected by one of my favourite directors, Wong Kar-Wai since I was a teen. The storyline turns into a secondary thing in the end because it is essentially about moods and sensations of a story.
Playing with symmetry, you often fracture the picture plane with a bright palette of colours and intricate patterns. Where do you find inspiration for your compositional structures?
I think bright palette is subconsciously influenced by my origin, Hong Kong, where is full of bright neon lights. I was brought up around many Taoist temples when I was a kid. The aesthetics of them was full of colourful mythical creatures. It probably paved my way for later interests in colours and patterns.
After I left home, I began looking into bright use of colours in many different cultures. I was really into how religions or rituals shape our perceptions of colours. I still remember I was truly mesmerised by the African fabric patterns after my journey to DR Congo. The experience was a starting point that inspired me not only making the paintings for my Slade degree show in 2016, but to explore this field from clothing to architectures.
I think symmetry started to become a dominant feature of my work since I was doing a residency at the British School At Rome in 2018. Living in Rome for 9 months had a huge impact of my research about Roman architectures. The repetitive arches, bridges and columns seem to be a picture frame of a city to me. These elements contributed to the construction of symmetry in my practise. The use of mosaics in the Roman churches is very similar to the interior design of Iranian mosques where I spent quite some time there too. I suppose through the use of intricate patterns, I want to extend them to question the relationship in between void and divinity beyond religious contexts.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
I think this pandemic has really hit me hard. I am exploring how lights project onto objects and figures. Light to me is a symbol of reflection, just like water. I began to notice many small things from nature and I guess I have a lot more respect than before too. Light can also be a hope of something. I have been longing for reuniting with my loved ones, especially living on my own in London when I am separating with my partner. My practise is a battle in between love/touch and separation. I tend to use my art to project hopeful dreams that may possibly come true one day.
Your choice of colour often plays with tonalities – from cold qualities to very warm ones – creating a hybrid of eastern aesthetics with western ones. How would you describe your use of colour? Are certain colours meaningful to you?
For sure! I spent a lot of my time with my partner in Istanbul in the past 5 years. I am very fascinated by the city history that has both eastern and western influence. It is also very much similar to Hong Kong. Eastern aesthetics has a deep history of symbolism ranging from literature to art. It is definitely a very fundamental way for me to process information. I think olive green represents a lot of about this. It is earthy and shows how we connect with our planet in an Eastern approach. After living in London for the past 12 years, it has shaped me how to execute my works in a completely different way, particularly looking at religious paintings such as Caravaggio or Michelangelo, I am impressed by the richness of scarlet red, violet and my favourite colour, Prussian blue in them! Blue has always been an exotic pigment not only in a religious perspective, but historically it also symbolizes virtues of people.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects that you would like to share with us?
I am currently working on two online shows in June. One will be with @the_artist_contemporary for their monthly artist atelier. The other one will be with @purslane.art. I am also planning to have a solo show at Patara Gallery in Tblisi, Georgia during late October this year. I am very much looking forward to it. It is an amazing city and it will be my first time showing there!