Let’s Try Catching Steam with Bare Hands

/ Gallery Exit, Hong Kong, 2021

‘Let’s Try Catching Steam with Bare Hands’ features more than thirty new works by
three artists. Through the use of non-human subjects such as fictional characters, mythical creations and architectural designs, Ngai Wing Lam, Yau Kwok Keung and
Chan Wai Lap, with different artistic practices, backgrounds and modes of thinking,
have come together in this exhibition to demonstrate contemporary life as a “nexus” composed of various situations and systems.

In this exhibition, CHAN Wai Lap has decided to re-visit one of the core values of his artistic practise that is his keen interest in documenting public swimming pools. A set
of seven new paintings called Pure Speculation is created based on his studies of the architectural designs of swimming pools inside different universities in Hong Kong.

For him, these paintings are made in an exceptional time period. Partly, the artist is responding to the “new normal” ever since the outbreak of pandemic, in which the accessibility to university pools has become seemingly impossible. The fact that we have all been asked to re-define what constitutes public and private spaces (via action in apps) disturbs the power structure inside public facilities. For the first time, CHAN has to create paintings of swimming pools remotely. It has become clear to him that the usual field approach may have become dysfunctional. Therefore, in the attempts to construct these swimming pools, he enters an infinite time loop where he begins to treat these spaces as heritages instead of architectural structures.

More importantly, the construction of these swimming pools has become dialectical, since it is based on artistic interpretation and secondary materials such as old/digital maps and oral interviews. This new series Pure Speculation frees the artist from one specific time and place. The result is close to the so-called untimeliness. CHAN smartly avoids producing representations of vacant monuments locked in nostalgia, but rather produces alienated heritages that stimulate curiosity of the viewers.