Hong Kong artist Tsang Kin-Wah critically addresses some of the complexities surrounding migration, cultural identity and racism in these site-specific works. Spread over two locations, the Vancouver Art Gallery’s public art space, Offsite and the Gallery’s Howe Street Façade, each work presents a large-scale composition using English texts to form floral and animal patterns. Deceitfully decorative, the content draws from discriminatory language that appeared in newspapers and political campaigns in Vancouver during the 1887 anti-Chinese riots, the mid-1980s immigration from Hong Kong and most recently, the heated exchanges around the foreign buyers and the local housing market.
Tsang’s work combines foul language with beautiful patterns to confront the reality of ignorance that often exists within cities that boast of their multiculturalism and diversity. On Howe Street, Tsang covers the building with text spiraling up the façade like vines, composed of Vancouver newspaper editorial columns from the 1980s. At Offsite, Tsang continues to use adverse rhetoric but contrasts it with voices of inclusion to compose floral patterns that unravel to form the body of a dragon.
Born in Shantou, China in 1976, Tsang moved to Hong Kong as a young child. He graduated with a BA in Fine Arts from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and a MA in Book Arts from the Camberwell College of Arts at the London Institute, England. His immersive vinyl text installations have covered the walls and floors of galleries and museums around the world. Tsang has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout Europe, Asia and the United States. This is his first exhibition in Canada.