Exploration of Abstract Realism is the first UK solo exhibition of Hong Kong-based photographer Kitty Chou, renowned for her rare ability to capture abstract imagery from life’s fleeting moments. Reflections and Almost Black & White are the two recent bodies of work showcased in this exhibition, the former a continuation of Chou’s notable Water series, the latter using colour photography to create surprising monochromatic effects.
While studying in New York, Chou developed a fascination with the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, inspired by his spontaneous photographs and complete immersion within his environment. Using elements of his classical photographic process, spontaneity and sketchbook style, Chou never crops or alters her images and relies heavily on the element of chance in her work. She has been described as the “Accidental Photographer”, referring both to her unconventional path to becoming a photographer and her ‘instant capture’ approach to the subject matter.
In her colourful Reflections series, Chou delves into the ethereal qualities of water, captivated by the rippling effect of wind and ephemeral passages of light on its surface as exemplified in Orange, White and Green #1 (2013). A standing figure is playfully distorted in Red, Blue & Black #1 (2014), an image inescapably reminiscent of Gerhard Richter’s hallmark ‘blur’ technique, while Chromatic Impression #1 and Chromatic Impression #2, (both 2013) depict paving stones awash with rainbow hues. In Paradox #1 (2013), Chou turns her lens to a garbage collection yard in Hong Kong, transforming a heap of discarded papers into a beguiling landscape.
Chou’s second body of work Almost Black & White explores the near absence of colour. This series includes the five-panelled work, Passage de Mémoire (2013), in which silhouetted pedestrians are captured mid-motion. A chance encounter on a darkened Paris street is immortalised in Rain Man #1 (2012), a meditation on the mystery of an approaching stranger. In this series Chou again abstracts the unremarkable, offering a rhythmic depiction of a staircase in Spiral (2012) and an eerily framed corridor in Passage (2012). In these delicate arrangements of line and composition, the artist brings beauty to the mundane.
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Kitty Chou (b. 1961) pursued higher education in the United States, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Business Administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1982, followed by a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design from the New York School of Interior Design in 2009. Her photographs have been exhibited in Hong Kong, Paris and New York and she was nominated for the Prix Pictet prize in 2013.