Unit London is excited to showcase an exhibition with artists Stephen Wong and Seth Armstrong at ART SG 2023, booth FOCUS FC08. Presenting two series of artworks inspired by the places they call home, Wong and Armstrong explore how the medium of landscape painting can find its place in contemporary art by focusing on locations that carry personal connections. Wong paints his hometown of Hong Kong, influenced by his hikes in the city’s surrounding natural environment. Armstrong, using numerous photographic references, depicts his hometown of Los Angeles. Through colours that capture the intangible variations of day and night, the exhibition migrates from East to West, embodying two specific relationships to place and home.
Wong’s paintings mainly concentrate on the green spaces that encircle Hong Kong. However, he also embarks on explorations of places further afield. Here, he presents artworks inspired by his Google Earth travels, portraying locations that he has discovered virtually, such as the Icelandic coast. Despite these virtual travels abroad, Wong continually returns to his hometown that, for him, inspires endless artistic material. In this series, Wong focuses on depictions of islands, featuring lone islands around Hong Kong and across the world. These images reflect the feelings of loneliness and solitude that have become increasingly pertinent since the pandemic. Wong reimagines these locations, inserting miniature figures into each artwork, reimagining the lives of these island inhabitants during a period of heightened isolation.
Armstrong’s paintings depict homes nestled in the dense foliage of Los Angeles’ foothills. The artist’s home city has become his enduring motif; all paintings are based on existing places and photographs he has captured during specific times of day. In a method that aligns closely with impressionist techniques, Armstrong is never beholden to his reference material, paying close attention to the gradations of colour and perspective that come from the nuances of light and temperature. Like Wong, Armstrong inserts figures into his artworks, which appear often as silhouettes through windows. Both artists are seemingly drawn to the private lives of others, envisioning their activities, relationships and emotional states.
Through their own singular definitions of landscape painting, both artists carve out a space that departs from tradition. Wong’s virtual and Hong Kong inspired paintings position themselves against westernised conventions, offering an alternative to the Eurocentric canon of landscape painting. Similarly, Armstrong’s paintings of Los Angeles, a location often excluded from California’s legacy of plein air painting, attempt to destabilise our expectations of natural beauty. Through their artworks, Wong and Armstrong aim to understand what landscape painting might mean to our contemporary experience that has perhaps lost sight of the technical challenges and honesty of this subject matter. Through a journey from East to West, both artists visualise the emotional connection we all have to location, expressing a concrete sense of place and a striking sense of home.
Thridranger Lighthouse (Iceland)
100 x 80 cm
130 x 110 cm
The Old Southwest
137 x 137 x 4.12 cm
91 x 121 x 4.12 cm
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