Hong Kong—Pearl Lam Galleries is pleased to present Ma Yujiang’s first solo exhibition, Cang Mang, in Hong Kong at SOHO 189, which will open to the public on Friday, 29 May. The young artist will debut a new series of work in which he manipulates archival WWII photos to explore loss and the theory of ‘cang mang’, which describes an emotional state of boundlessness and displacement of time and place in the context of social and political history.
Ma has a special affinity with the poetry of the late Taiwanese poet Chou Meng Tieh, who passed away in May 2014. He relates to the loneliness that Chou depicts in his poems as a result of feeling displaced. Ma moved from Shandong province to Beijing for school before immigrating to Hong Kong. Ma’s personal encounter with Chou in Taipei proved to be a life-changing experience, which inspired him to create this unique body of artwork as a tribute to the poet. In the winter of 1948, Chou disembarked from a ship together with the youth army from Mainland China. Looking at the Strait of Taiwan from the Port of Kaohsiung, he suddenly felt he understood the meaning of ‘cang mang’. Ma’s large-scale photographic works give physical body to the deep sense of longing and solitude that pervades Chou’s poetry, and focus on the psychological complexity of wanting to root one’s identity in the face of displacement from a personal history, while being unsure of one’s destiny.
Ma will present two photographic works that capture the Taiwan Strait and the Port of Kaohsiung in 2014, along with a manipulated old photograph, to portray the confusion of Chou’s initial arrival in Taiwan.
The Cang Mang series consists of over 100 pieces, of which 13 will be shown in this exhibition, including contemporary photos of the Taiwan Strait taken by Ma, and 11 old WWII archival photos that the artist has ‘cleaned’ by removing evidence of violent scenes from places such as the beaches of Normandy and Pearl Harbor. Ma explains, “This series of photographs reminds us of how insignificant our existences are when we are confronted with the narrative of time and history. I want to express boundlessness in terms of space, time, life, death, and fate. I started from my own experience and broadened the time frame by bridging what happened in the past with eternal nature. By removing the warships and the scenes of destruction from the WWII archival photographs, I try to restore these locations to their original state of calm. Giving the sea back to the sea, and the sky back to the sky, so to speak, removes the distance that separated families, and recuperates a sense of peace within our void.”