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Ann Hoi - Transitory Beauty

Words:

Edd Norval
March 27, 2019

Using temporary materials, predominantly paper, Ann Hoi creates sculptures that are transitory in composition, yet emotionally charged and permanent in their thematic observation.

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For Hoi, her figures can be both deeply human and mythical - the two aren't mutually exclusive. With folkloric thoughtfulness, the characters are imbued with a sort of myth, as if the story already exists somewhere - in books, oral tradition, or her dreams - and she is simply giving it life as human or quasi-human form.


Mainly monochromatic, the figures are trapped in poses that are kinetic and curious, as if a tender moment was frozen in time, carefully wound up around another myth, that of medusa who once they caught her eyes, were unable to break free from their tender moment.


Some of the figures are bizarre and strange creatures, vaguely recognisable as something we've seen before, or something we've heard about. The humans, children usually, add to the overarching sentiment of the pieces, that they're a conscious projection of the unconscious - maybe a childhood memory or fear.

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Being in black and white contributes to the thought of them being from the past, a sepia-tinged memory pulled from the deepest recesses of her mind. In that sense, although technically figurative, they are also deeply expressionistic in the underlying feelings they exude.


Hoi is a Macau-born artist residing in Canada where she passed through her artistic education in Ontario. Beginning her works digitally, they're rendered in almost a geometric manner, where the pencil-like details cling tightly to the skeleton of wire underneath.


Each piece is painstakingly created, so much so that Hoi has still created relatively few pieces in total. Given the time spent on them, they seem like cathartic pieces, a meditative process whereby, for the idea to be fully exercised, they must be precise and accurate depictions. Perfect portrayals of imperfect themes.

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Hoi's raw material, paper, is also deeply connected to her childhood. The artist said, “I decided to make sculptures in paper because it is something that is connected to my culture. I grew up watching people burn paper sculptures for spiritual reasons, as a ritual offering to the gods. We believe that what we burn here will be transferred to the afterlife. I was interested in the way we instill and impose these emotions and feelings onto an object that we have created, as if we instill life in the things we do.”


Incidentally, the artist also 'burns' parts of her pieces, for example, a girl holds her paper chest over her heart as the browning paper seems to burn around her hands. She can't stop it - a symbol of heartbreak. Damaging and inescapable.


With an undeniable inflection of her youth on her art, through both its form and subject, Hoi is writing an autobiography, not on paper, but with it. Each piece is a story of her, although related in various different ways to various different aspects of her life. It's a story of myth, fact and fiction - the components of all of our lives in their boredom, banality and sheer wonder.

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