Chan Sai-lok was sponsored by Regal Hotels to join a residency programme in the Flux Factory art space in New York for two months in autumn 2018, as a part of the UOB Art in Ink Award that he had won at the end of 2017. Land of Longing and Exile summarizes the artist's response to his New York experience.
Two months flew by. Everything the artist saw was in fragments as he took up temporary residence among alleys of a mixed neighbourhood. He tried to understand this foreign land in terms of the colours red, white and blue as they appear in the flag of the United States, when he found himself inside a melting pot of ethnic cultures, religious beliefs, gender representation and customs. The Stars and Stripes often gives a feeling of being "too American". The artist associates red with Asian ethnicity and blue with reality of life in America-if this land of dreams is really as diverse as it seems. While no more can be explained about white as it has already been the centre of the world for centuries.
Land of Longing and Exile is the beginning of the artist's "red" series. With Chinese language literature as the point of departure, Chan Sai-lok recounts how New York City was represented in fiction writing by Pai Hsien-yung (Taiwan), Wong Pik-wan (Hong Kong) and Kuo Chiang-sheng (Taiwan) and has since become a symbol of forlornness. Set in the late 1980s, protagonists in "Love in New York" have grown dependant on each other but are fated to separate. Completed in the late 2000s, "Danny Boy" and "Tea for Two" take a retrospective look at how helpless social minorities were in New York and how the city was overwhelmed by fear when AIDS had just begun to become an issue. Nightly, set against the fall the Twin Towers at the September 11 attack, looks at how individuals find they ways of existence under the shadow of Americanism. We are in New York even though our souls are drifting somewhere else. It's time to "regain our own vision of narrative", though this "we" are not our old selves any more.
About the artist
Chan Sai-lok is an artist, art critic and writer in Hong Kong. Chan graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Art, a Master of Fine Art degree, and subsequently a Master of Arts in gender studies, from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. His versatile career covers fine art, creative writing, education, art criticism and gender studies.
Chan investigates the ethereal and the translucent in paintings, and the relationship between material and the aesthetics of oriental ink paintings, often with Chinese characters or literary texts as motifs or references. Chan is the winner of UOB Art in Ink Award, a finalist of Sovereign Asian Art Prize, the winner of Ting Yen Yung Memorial Creative Award, Hui's Fine Arts Award (Chinese Painting), and Professor Mayching Kao Art History Award etc. Recent exhibitions include Scenery of Dialogue – Artist In Hospital, A Flower Like Us, Alongside Poetry in an Alley, Somewhere, It’s Hard to Say and Meeting Late.
Chan is now a freelance artist and founding member of Art Appraisal Club, and was co-editor of Qiuying Poetry magazine and executive committee member of The House of Hong Kong Literature.
Special thanks to Chui Pui-chee, Angus Lee and Hinghing Ho
 Kuo Chiang-sheng, Epilogue, Nightly, Taipei, Unitas Publishing Co.
Presented by: UOB Hong Kong
Creative Partner: Hong Kong Arts Centre