How does it feel to be a bird? How would it feel to know that you could both fly and run? Would you then wonder where is ‘home’ or would you allow yourself the freedom to just be? The bird leaves her mark in the sky. The Zimbabwe-born artist, Marc Standing, leaves his marks on his canvases. The fascination with the search for one’s identity, for remembering one’s heritage and creating the balance with the past, with home and the childhood that always seems to filter through on one side and the functionality within today’s heightened age of globalization on the other, make up one of many layers of Standing’s reflections. The need to find the balance between the two has been a longstanding preoccupation of the artist, evident also in his second solo show The Eternal Return at The Cat Street Gallery in Hong Kong.
If you want to play with who you are it is easy, put on a mask. But is it? The symbolic nature of the mask is rooted in the duality of absence and metamorphosis. It helps us to hide our face, to stay anonymous, to even act out and reject one’s identity. In many cultures putting on a mask allows for a shamanistic metamorphosis and for a communication with a higher spirit. As a predominant symbol in Standing’s paintings, the symbolic nature of the mask is played with. What life story of the artist do they hide? Are they maps for a better understanding of his dream-like paintings? Are they a representation of something that the artist left behind? Inspired by both African and Mexican imagery, especially with the paper mache figurines, Standing’s paintings are his myths and patterns in time. The layering of images in his canvases suggests the layering of identity and many influences that the artist picked up on in his travels.
Prior to moving to Hong Kong, Standing’s canvases were darker and more sinister. The mix of different cultures of the city seems to have calmed the artist’s spirit. The bright colors, resembling maybe the firecracker sparks of the China’s different celebrations are now boldly used. Without the intention of appropriation, the mark-making and staining of the canvases used in African batik cloth are reflected upon helping to add yet another reflection. After experiencing the Day of the Dead while traveling, Standing’s work began to reveal his fascination of leaving a trace of one’s physicality and creating a map of one’s being. The celestial road maps, experimentation of topographies, mark-making are tools for reflection and communication with oneself and his audience.
The Eternal Return is significant for two reasons. Firstly it marks the return of Marc Standing for his second solo show, running from 14th March - 9th April at The Cat Gallery, Hong Kong. Secondly, it marks the last show at 222 Hollywood Road before the gallery relocates to 50 Tung Street. The journey reference in the title reflects not only Standing's life but also the life of the gallery.
Marc Standing's iconic and haunting paintings explore the personal search for identity. Born in Zimbabwe and having lived in Europe and Australia, the artist settled down in Hong Kong. Due to his often moving, the need to feel at home and to investigate what home is and who I am inspire the artist. His images reflect on the tensions between light and dark, between comfort and discomfort, between the sense of belonging and sense of a void and reflect upon a universal question “ Who am I ? ”.
All images courtesy of The Cat Street Gallery, Hong Kong. Featured images in slider: Marc Standing - The Fallacy of Substance ( detail ) ; Marc Standing - Image 2 ; Marc Standing - Image 1 ; Marc Standing - Talisman ; Marc Standing - Paperwork 5 ; Marc Standing - Figurine 13 ; Marc Standing - Figurine 11 ; Marc Standing - Figurine 10 ; Marc Standing - Figurine 6 ; Marc Standing - Figurine 2.
Hong Kong, Hong Kong