Lam Hoi-sin maps her rational thoughts with blogs and charts her subconscious associations in drawings. She meets Edmund Lee ahead of her solo exhibition.
Lam Hoi-sin assures me that the press release of her new exhibition, which claims that she has ‘hundreds of websites’, is merely exaggerating. “I only have several dozen of them,” she says of the myriad of subject-based blogs that she’s opened to make sense of ideas – mostly for her own amusement. Not necessarily always updated, these online records touch on issues as diversified as feminism and the environment – when they’re not just serving as a platform to showcase Lam’s creative works for her many, many different projects.
“I’ve no idea how it would end up this way,” says the 24-year-old artist, who graduated from Hong Kong Polytechnic University in 2008 with a degree in visual communication. “What I had in mind is simply that I wanted to fit one subject into one sketchbook. It’s normal for artists to keep a large amount of sketchbooks. In my case, the difference is that I’m keeping them in the format of blogs. Each of them usually has its own twist, or it’s to challenge certain norms and look at things in a rational way. If you look at enough of my blogs, you’ll understand my thinking process. It’s about rationality.”
The irony in Lam’s case, of course, is that she may soon be best recognised for a series of work that dazzles with an uninhibited sense of irrationality. In her upcoming solo show at Gallery Exit, Interpretation, Lam will be showcasing selected pieces from the titular series, which she started while still a high school student. Under the heavy influence of Salvador Dalí – and, in particular, his oil painting technique and use of double images – Lam transforms found images from newspapers and magazines into drawings and paintings that are visually ambivalent, conceptually playful or sexually explicit – sometimes all at once.
“I usually choose the more ambiguous images – the photos that you can’t fully comprehend at first glance – as my sources. I’m often not aware of what’s happening in the originals,” explains the artist, with each of her works suggesting a slightly different mode of appropriation. While a Diesel advert is being re-imagined as a rape scene in one drawing – and a Jil Sander model as an inverted pupa in another – Lam also shows her fondness in obscuring her objects, as when she morphs the limbs of golf and football players respectively in two other works, distantly evoking the impossible reality portrayed in M C Escher’s drawings.
Lam continues: “When I first started this practice, I changed around many elements in the images by adopting the more traditional surrealist techniques. But now I’ve simplified the process, changing only one or two elements, and turning the essence of them into the twist. You don’t need to know what the final images represent – that’s why all my works are untitled. I don’t want the viewers to have any presumption. Whatever you see remains your own interpretation.”
Interpretation is at Gallery Exit Aug 19-Sep 10. To explore Lam’s countless blogs, begin with sin-stuff.com. Visit music-drawings.blogspot.com to see her Music Drawings, an on-going series of automatic drawings she does to different music. Also check out tinyurl.com/3jpa4qu for her Affordable Conceptual Art, a ‘slightly sarcastic’ set of merchandise by which Lam sells her ‘concepts’ embodied by inexpensive objects.