Kristy M Chan is a talented artist who was born in Hong Kong in 1997 and currently splits her time between London and her hometown. Her artwork is deeply rooted in observation, drawing inspiration from her experiences of migration and displacement, as well as the many cultural differences she has encountered in her travels. One of the defining characteristics of Chan's work is its consciously absurdist and satirical temperament. Her pieces often feature surreal elements and vividly bright colours, creating a kaleidoscopic effect that mirrors the dizzying cadence of contemporary life. Through her use of oil and oil sticks, she synthesizes together the dissonant, adventitious, and sometimes surreal junctures she experiences. Chan's work is heavily influenced by her experiences of trying to find a sense of home while moving between, and originating from, differing cultural geographies. Her paintings are densely built-up and depart from her own experiences of navigating cultural differences, often incorporating vibrant colours that reflect her own unique perspective. Overall, Kristy M Chan's work is a compelling exploration of cultural differences, migration, and displacement, all brought to life through her unique and vivid artistic style.

Kristy M Chan in her studio. Photo courtesy of the artist and The Artist Room

LVH: You split your time between Hong Kong and London. Could you tell us about how your connection to Eastern and Western cultures has informed your identity as an artist and the work you create?

KC: It's probably the appreciation for both cultures that have shaped me and my work. From the nuances in how people converse, and the differences between British and Cantonese humour, to my various failures in translating silly jokes. All these social interactions largely inform the concept of many pieces. I often give a Cantonese or Chinese title to the work I make in Hong Kong as a way of connecting with where I grew up in the past and present.

Kristy M Chan in her studio. Photo courtesy of the artist and The Artist Room

LVH: The art world has become entwined with social media in recent years. How do you approach being an artist in our digital age and how do you navigate building an audience online?

KC: I go online only for entertainment, reels and whatnot, I'm slightly addicted to them, but it should end there. It's much more rewarding to see shows in person. Physical objects and film give so much more when they are seen and experienced in the flesh. Perhaps being a painter makes me appreciate the tactility of things a bit more too. In terms of building an audience online, all artists have different approaches. I think we all tend to show a bit of our personality and what we like. I tend to share works in progress, other artists' works that I like and an occasional meme.

Installation view, Kristy M Chan, The Artist Room. Photo courtesy of The Artist Room

LVH: Throughout your career, your work has oscillated between the genres of figuration and abstraction. How do you navigate this transition? Do you feel like you can fully embrace the two genres?

KC: The transition came quite naturally. My figures were getting progressively more abstract at the end of 2021. It suddenly felt much more genuine and expressive when I painted abstractly. I was paying more attention to the painterly aspects and the time spent with the canvas felt increasingly substantial. Now, I paint abstractly with a figurative image in mind.

Kristy M Chan, That time of the year where I lose myself, 2022

LVH: You’ve previously mentioned your fascination with the experimental techniques of German painters, such as Sigmar Polke. How has this informed your own relationship with experimenting with materials?

KC: I've been using some photochromic pigments which react to UV light. I've also used creatine and blood in other paintings, but I'm hoping to try experimenting with more reactive chemical materials in 2023/4.

Installation view, Kristy M Chan, The Artist Room. Photo courtesy of The Artist Room

LVH: Your most recent works explore the themes of the excess and overindulgence of contemporary urban life and behavior. What inspired this?

KC: That came from my very indulgent summer in 2022. I decided to spend most of my summer in London and pretty much said yes to anything that mildly suggested fun. It was great but I find myself constantly chasing for the next high and struggled to enjoy downtime. It got me thinking about our margins versus societal definitions of overindulgence. I'd also like to think it was a successful attempt at materialising and drawing a line under certain things I was wrestling with.

Kristy M Chan, Made to desire its own repression, 2023

LVH: What’s next for you in 2023?

KC: I've got a few group shows lined up around Asia and Europe, and I'm looking forward to working at the Beecher Residency in November.

WHAT'S UP/ HONG KONG 'Women in Abstraction' is on view between 20.03.2023 - 25.03.2023 at 6/F Pedder Building, Hong Kong