The Artsy Vanguard 2020: Mak Ying Tung 2

Shannon Lee
Sep 11, 2020 8:00PM

Mak Ying Tung 2

B. 1989, Hong Kong. Lives and works in Hong Kong.

Mak Ying Tung 2 麥影彤二
Relic (nintendo), 2018
Para Site Benefit Auction
Mak Ying Tung 2 麥影彤二
Relic (tamagotchi), 2018
de Sarthe Gallery

The conceptual seriousness of Mak Ying Tung 2’s work is belied by the artist’s penchant for fun, silliness, and the absurd. Her wide-ranging oeuvre spans painting, installation, video, performance, and then some. She interrogates various facets of contemporary existence, from surveillance culture to consumerism.

Through her uncanny works, Mak is able to explore the boundaries between artifice and sincerity. In Robot Mak Mak (2019), the artist used Deepfake technology to superimpose her own face onto footage of the humanoid AI robot Sophia, layering a fake upon a fake and creating a disorienting feedback loop of imitation. Meanwhile, for Home Sweet Home (2019), she commissioned artists on the Chinese e-commerce site Taobao to create a series of paintings based on dream homes she built in The Sims 4. These surreal canvases depict luxury high-rise apartments with rooms full of CCTV cameras pointed at cribs; a circle of computer monitors facing a bathtub; and vases of sunflowers sitting in the middle of a swimming pool.


Earlier this year, Mak’s work was included in X Museum’s inaugural triennial in Beijing. Represented by de Sarthe Gallery in Hong Kong, Mak has been included in exhibitions around the world, including at Whitechapel Gallery, the Goethe-Institut China, MoMA PS1, and Shanghai’s Chi K11 Art Museum.

The Artsy Vanguard 2020

The Artsy Vanguard 2020 is our annual list of the most promising artists shaping the future of contemporary art. This year, artists are organized into two categories: Newly Emerging, which presents artists who’ve gained momentum in the past year, showing at leading institutions and galleries; and Getting Their Due, which identifies artists who have persevered for decades, yet only recently received the spotlight they deserve. Now in its third edition, the feature was developed by the Artsy staff, in collaboration with our network of international curators and art professionals. Explore more of The Artsy Vanguard 2020.

Shannon Lee

Header and thumbnail image, from left to right: Mak Ying Tung 2, “Home Sweet Home: 1,2,3,4,5 Cheese,” 2020; Mak Ying Tung, “Home Sweet Home: Flower Tub Pool 2020,” 2020; Portrait of Mak Ying Tung 2; Mak Ying Tung 2, “Home Sweet Home: In the Same Breath 1,” 2020. All images: courtesy of the artist and de Sarthe Gallery.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly detailed the process for making “Robot Mak Mak.” The text has been updated to accurately reflect the creation of the work.

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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019