TheHappyHours_show identity.png

16 September - 29 October 2021, at Gallery HZ

Gallery HZ is delighted to present “The Happy Hours”, a solo exhibition by Hong Kong artist Ghost Mountain Field. This is the artist’s second solo presentation at Gallery HZ, following his first titled “Chop Suey” in 2020. “The Happy Hours” will run from September 16th to October 23rd 2021, with an opening reception on September 16th from 6 to 9pm.

The Happy Hours” is a culmination of Ghost Mountain Field’s multifaceted practice, showcasing new works exploring entertainment culture through Cantonese pop culture and social traditions, and how they influence cultural taste within the context of contemporary Asia.

One of the facets of Hong Kong society is that we emphasise the needs and goals of community as a whole over the desires of individuals, social behaviour also tend to adhere to a standard norm that helps maintain social tempo. Hence, it is also beneficial for members of such a society to share similar cultural tastes which facilitates a vibrant social life. Such a phenomenon propels status culture in which social groups are encouraged to adhere to their own cultural tastes and styles to reinforce their shared social connections. This is further amplified by the rise of social media which brings with it a sense of cultural urgency and media-prompted anxiety to stay continually relevant. Search engines tailor news and images to what we like and prefer rather than prompting counter-opinion or taste. Subsequently, our vision becomes narrow and the ability to expand our experience and taste palette become incredibly limited. Under such context, it is no surprise that we observe a general homogenisation of taste and style around Asia.

Such standardisation of taste is most apparent in contemporary film culture, as exemplified by the homogenisation of beauty amongst a new generation of actors and actresses. Ghost Mountain Field observes such phenomenon in his new series “Female Characters”. Portraying scenes from iconic Hong Kong films such as In the Mood for Love (花樣年華), and A Chinese Ghost Story (倩女幽魂), the artist transforms and exaggerates facial features of famous actresses by imitating the effect of photo editing apps. Doe-eyed with small nosed, actresses Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk and Cherie Chung are moulded into dolls of visual similitude. By altering the features of iconic actresses who have long been celebrated for their unique beauty and distinct acting styles, the artist examines the effects homogenised aesthetics have on popular culture. Reminding viewers that differences in perceptions can positively contribute to the diversification of our cultural landscape.

Ghost Mountain Field also observes that even in a collectivist and success-oriented society such as Hong Kong, individualism is still celebrated in microscopic ways, and often through culturally significant forms of entertainment. In Eight Horses (Race), 2021, the artist puts a contemporary spin on the traditional Chinese painting Eight Horses (八駿圖). Depicting a horse racing scene in Hong Kong, the artist draws a parallel between the naming of horses in the original painting and in modern Hong Kong horse racing; each horse is named after a unique trait it possesses, each brings to the seemingly straightforward race a distinct temperament and flare. Similarly in his Mahjong series, the artist emphasises that while the rules of the game are fairly straightforward, it is the concoction of different characters and styles of play that lend value to the game.

As an applaud to diversity in culture and tradition, alongside new paintings and works on paper is a series of garments and accessories produced in collaboration with local designers. Each product was treated as an opportunity to revitalise traditional modes of craft and design. On view will be handmade leather handbags by local brand Mobius and screen-printed t-shirts by Miura Project, donned with signature mahjong designs by the artist, alongside cheongsam by local brand Stand Tall, which brings to life the vibrant clothing the artist’s painting subjects often wear.

"The Happy Hours” is a gleeful celebration of Cantonese traditions and entertainment. Through pop culture motifs and symbolisms, Ghost Mountain Field prompts viewers to contemplate on the shifting cultural landscape of contemporary Asia. While globalisation and multiculturalism have propagated generic standards of perceptions, the artist reminds us that much is to be appreciated in the beauty of diversity.

Click here to request E-Catalogue