Ngaw Hiu Nam (Ashley) is a painter who looks for possibilities on and beyond the canvas. She also practices printmaking, photography and installation, which help her explore the language of painting.
To Ashley, every painting is a gentle frame to the wilderness of the world. She observes and looks for landscapes in daily life, and tries to make sense of the big world with her calm and quiet paintings. Her artworks are mostly about little episodes that occurred in the past, or scenes stuck at the back of her head. She tells stories and evokes feelings through imagery.
The Anchor of Memory Would Not Hold Anymore
Charcoal, graphite, acrylic, screenprint on wood
“The Anchor of Memory Would Not Hold Anymore” (2018) is inspired by a fiction called Deutschstunde (The German Lesson) (1968) by Siegfried Lenz, which is about a painter being debarred from painting in post-war Germany from the narrative of Siggi Jepsen, a boy in a juvenile detention center. Following the book, I travelled along the river Elbe in Germany to look for the views mentioned in the story and the view Siggi saw in his cell. The story is full of despair and terror. I extracted these emotions from the story, painted the scene and screen-printed images I had taken on my journey onto the wood panel, to link a landscape in reality with the view in fantasy.
Painting installation (Masking tape, oil on wall, video)
“PaintING” (2018) is inspired by the fiction Deutschstunde (The German Lesson).The video starts with a white canvas on the wall. Starting at the bottom of the canvas, I painted a burning fire with black oil paint and later extended it to the whole canvas. The video records my movements and the whole painting process. Afterwards, the physical painting is removed from the wall, leaving only black brushstrokes and masking tape. The final outcome is presented as a video projected with traces of brushstrokes on the wall as a question to the nature of painting. By showing the process instead of the result, I emphasise time and the creative process of making the painting. I also highlight my existence as an artist, the maker and the performer. In fact, I included the whole journey of painting in this artwork: from the process to the outcome to the remains. I make a statement by calling all these an artwork.
Painting installation (Graphite on paper, spotlight)
We visited Tiananmen late at night. Across the street, there stood a pair of spotlights across the street; their powerful beams shining Tiananmen and the face of Mao Zedong. I wonder how long have they stood there, how much have they witnessed and what did they go through.