Luise Fong

LUISE FONG

The starting points for Luise Fong’s work are generally “intuitive responses to the world, my state of mind, and cultural aspects around me.” She has also always been inspired by the emotive and intuitive resonance of works by more representational, figurative artists such as Luise Bourgeois (1911 – 2010), Ross Bleckner (1949 – ), and Eva Hesse (1936 – 1970). Although she has worked in sculptural assemblage and the photographic medium, she is continually drawn back to the discipline of painting. Working with a range of abstract motifs and techniques, she distills her experience of the world into a personal and distinctive vocabulary of symbols. She values the physical nature of painting and believes it is of increasing importance that art and handcrafted objects have the feel of the body on them as digital technology affords the world an ever-expanding “virtual reality”.
Fong’s paintings have always made reference to the feminine, and in the late 1980s she worked repeatedly with the body as subject. Largely figurative collages evolved rapidly into symbolic, abstracted representations of the feminine, with circles and ovals as dominant shapes in layered black surfaces that glowed with the illusion of light.
In the early 1990s, she moved from figurative depiction of the female body to more abstracted and metaphorical representations of the feminine, depicting implicitly the “forensic evidence” of the traces and stains of the human body, with motifs that were suggestive of close-ups of its surface or interior. It was at this time that she began cutting or drilling holes through the surface of the painting – a reference to wounding and the process of autopsy. This also indulged her fascination with the physical and allusive qualities inherent in various treatments of two-dimensional painted surface. Executed in sombre, almost-monochromatic palette, her paintings contained a push-pull tension of opposites: light-dark, translucence-solidarity, intuition-intellect, yin-yang, and microcosmic-macrocosmic.
The exhibition Universe in 1999 showed Fong’s imagery becoming more evocative of the galaxy and planetary systems; rather than the microcosm of the human body and images reminiscent of floating cellular structures or microbes viewed through a microscope. She also introduced an element of relief to the painting surface by building it with carborundum and used a ‘gravity- controlled pour’ technique to create droplets of gesso, her visual metaphor for energy and movement.
Fong has always used colour metaphorically. An exhibition in Hong Kong in 1998 signalled a dramatic shift from her previously sombre palette to a red-dominated one, in acknowledgement of her own Chinese-Malaysian heritage and the culture of Hong Kong.
Then, after a near-fatal accident in 2001 when Fong returned to work with a sharp awareness of having been given a second chance, she again revisited the red palette for its visceral, life-affirming and celebratory qualities.
Fong’s Asian heritage, with which she has had comparatively little contact, continues to be one of rich sources of inspiration as she explores visual aspects of Asian culture. In the late 2000s, Fong began working with a new format inspired by an antique Chinese lattice window that has been in her studio for some years. This has visual links to the natural world and its patterning, to which she continues to look for inspiration.
– Elizabeth Caughey, Contemporary New Zealand Art 5 (Auckland: David Bateman, 2008), pp. 30-33.

Luise Fong was born in Sandakan, Malaysia in 1964. In 1983 she enrolled in the Textile Design Course offered by Wellington Polytechnic, Wellington. In 1986 Fong was accepted into Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1991. Fong took regular trips to Europe and America during the late 1980s and 1990s. Between 1993 and 1994 Fong worked as a Junior Lecturer at Elam School of Fine Arts before relocating to Melbourne, Australia in 1994. Whilst living abroad, Fong travelled several times to both Hong Kong and New Zealand to work on her Transfusion, Fathom, and Sonar exhibitions. In 1999 Fong returned to New Zealand. She was appointed Lecturer in Painting at Elam School of Fine Arts in 2001 and remained there until 2005.

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2009
Titirangi, Page Blackie Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand
How to Talk Tree, Lopdell House Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

2007
Orientation, Tinakori Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand
Jonathan Smart Gallery, Christchurch, New Zealand

2006
Remix, Tinakori Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand
Judith Anderson Gallery, Hastings, New Zealand

2005
Sync, Tinakori Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand

2004
Elemental, Starkwhite, Auckland, New Zealand
Recent Paintings, Tinakori Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand

2002
Turbo, Jonathan Smart Gallery, Christchurch, New Zealand
Metaphor, Snowwhite Gallery, Unitec, Auckland, New Zealand

2000
Luminescence, Jonathan Smart Gallery, Christchurch, New Zealand
Trans, Robert Lindsay Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

1999
Transit, Robert Lindsay Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

1998
Recent Paintings, Anna Bibby Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand
Nova, Robert Lindsay Gallery, Melbourne, Australia
Sonar, John Batten Gallery, Hong Kong

1997
Echo, Jonathan Smart Gallery, Christchurch, New Zealand
Chamber, Robert Lindsay Gallery, Melbourne, Australia
Fathom, Anna Bibby Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

1996
Scent, Jonathan Smart Gallery, Christchurch, New Zealand
Nostalgia, Basement Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

1995
More Human, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth; Fisher Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand
UFO, Claybrook Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand
Small Orbits, Jonathan Smart Gallery, Christchurch, New Zealand

1994
Recent Paintings, Claybrook Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

1993
Chen, Claybrook Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand
Pathology, Brooker Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand
Meniscus, Jonathan Jensen Gallery, Christchurch, New Zealand

1992
Speak (window installation), Auckland City Art Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

1991
Half Light Paintings, Brooker Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand
Artbeat, The Bathhouse, Rotorua, New Zealand
Recent Works, Claybrook Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

1990
Recent works, Brooker Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand

1989
Past Presence, Fish Shop Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

 

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2007
Painting: One, Two Rooms Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand
Āe AM, Tinakori Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand

2005
Winter, Ngaumatau Gallery, Queenstown, New Zealand

2004
HOME/GROUND – SCAPE Biennial 04, Christchurch, New Zealand
Sticky, Randolph Street Gallery, Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design, Auckland, New Zealand

2003-04
Flaunt: Art/Fashion/Culture, Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand
Pressing Flesh: Skin, Touch, Intimacy, Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

1999
Contemporary Melbourne Abstraction, Heide Art Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

1996
Skirting Abstraction, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, New Zealand
referencing, Robert Lindsay Gallery, Melbourne, Australia
Transfusion, Hong Kong Art Centre, Hong Kong; New Gallery, Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

1995
Cultural Safety: Contemporary Art from New Zealand, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, Germany; City Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand
A Very Peculiar Practice: Aspects of Recent New Zealand Painting, City Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand
The Nervous System, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth; City Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand

1994
Station to Station: the Way of the Cross, Auckland City Art Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand
Ten Years On, Fisher Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand
Taking Stock of the Nineties, Sarjeant Gallery, Whanganui, New Zealand

1993
Small Works, ASA Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand
Studio Ceramics: Dinner Service Show, Fisher Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

1992
Light Sensitive, Artspace, Auckland, New Zealand
After Dark, Wellington City Art Gallery, Wellington; Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, New Zealand
Shadow of Style: Eight New Artists, Wellington City Art Gallery, Wellington; Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, New Zealand
Surface Tension: Ten Artists in the Nineties, Auckland City Art Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand
The Carnivelesque Body, George Fraser Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

1991
exuberant, floating, dancing, mocking, childish and blissful art, George Fraser Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand
Catholic Taste, George Fraser Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand
Speaking Through The Crack in the Mirror, Artspace, Auckland, New Zealand

1990
Pandora’s Box, George Fraser Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

1989
Artistic Collusions, Pembridge, Auckland, New Zealand
Fascination, Brooker Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand

1988
20,000 Leagues, Fish Shop Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

1985
Decoration As Camouflage, Last and First Café, Auckland, New Zealand

 

RESIDENCIES & AWARDS

2008
Artist in Residence, McCahon House Trust, Auckland, New Zealand

1998
Residency, ‘Nilja’, Parks Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

1997
Residency, Ilam Painting Department, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

1995
Artist in Residence, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, New Zealand

1994
Artist in Residence, Victoria College of Arts, Melbourne, Australia
Premier Award Winner, Visa Gold Art Award

1993
Ida Else Painting Award, Auckland Society of Arts, Auckland, New Zealand
Merit Award Winner, Visa Gold Art Award

1991-1992
Member of Artspace Board, Auckland, New Zealand

1986-1989
Received QEII Grant to assist first solo show
Received QEII Project Grant for Pandora’s Box

 

SELECTED COLLECTIONS

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, New Zealand
The Bathhouse Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa, New Zealand
Jim and Mary Barr Collection, New Zealand
Chartwell Collection, New Zealand
Dunedin Public Art Gallery, New Zealand
Fletcher Collection, New Zealand
Jenny Gibbs Collection, New Zealand
Paris Collection, New Zealand
Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, New Zealand
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand
University of Auckland, New Zealand
Waikato Museum of Art and History Te Whare Taonga o Waikato, New Zealand