Home > Culture > Art & Design > Geometric abstract artist Ryan Chan showcases his pensive musings at solo debut show
Geometric abstract artist Ryan Chan showcases his pensive musings at solo debut show

Hong Kong’s very first geometric abstract artist Ryan Chan talks to Lifestyle Asia about his exhibition Borders & Beginnings, and the spiritual enlightening of finding his favoured medium.

Our understanding of art might lead us to speculate that creation is a spontaneous wander of one’s mind. Artist Ryan Chan would be happy to differ. One of Hong Kong’s first to venture into the contemporary realm of geometric abstraction, Chan, born in 1996, leaves a lasting impression with his use of bold colours and copious materials.

Such eye-catching elements greet you with a warm welcome as you step into Chan’s debut exhibition Borders & Beginnings at The Spectacle Group. “Every artwork is an attempt for me to move on from my mistakes in the past, and to remind myself that I can create a future that is golden,” comments the local artist, who then goes on to explain his meticulous creative process. From conception and draft, to working on the canvas, each step is backed by the driving force of purpose; there’s no room for one meaningless brushstroke.

Upon first glance, the vibrant geometric musings by Chan are a fresh sight that strikes and intrigues, but a keener look will unveil the deep self-reflection and emotion embedded within. Let us get to know the artist before relishing the art.

Geometric abstract artist Ryan Chan on his creative process and Borders & Beginnings Exhibition

For those who don’t know, who is Ryan Chan?

That’s my name, but you can also call me RC. I can’t always feel words, but I feel lines and colour. That’s how I tell my story.

How would you describe your style?

I try to express myself with a clear, minimal picture, with only what’s needed. I love straight lines and also like to explore different textures and materials for my artworks to communicate a moment, memory or emotion. Lately, I’ve been using a lot of gold leaf, Plexiglas® and just anything from home.

Young I

How and when did you discover your interest in art?

When I was little, I once made a painting of a zebra. The straight lines and clear definition made by the marker pen were mesmerising to me. I didn’t realise at the time that this would be a permanent feature in my artworks, but it seems that however much I explore, I naturally fall back into the strong patterns and structure that were found in the zebra I drew all those years ago.

What was your artistic journey like? How did you come from beginner to finding your favourite medium and forte?

Form and structure were just the beginning for me. When I explored metallic leaf and mixed media, I discovered the power of adding textures and reflective materials to the lattice construct. I feel that this added a new dimension to my ability to express the ideas in my head.

The use of metallic leaf has been particularly significant to me. The moment I apply it to my work, I immediately see reflections of myself. How does one not self-reflect when you see yourself so much? The metallic surface is both a literal reflection of light as well as a medium that forces me to spiritually reflect on myself.

Appreciation IV (left) and Young III (right).

Do you remember your first-ever piece? What was the creative process like?

My first ever artworks came in the form of four black paintings — Anxious, Anger, Unstable and Lost. I was going through a dark period in my life and wanted all my works to be in black at first. As I was creating this series of paintings, I realised it helped me leave some of those hard times behind, and decided I was ready to relate to lighter colours.

What is your creative process like right now? Did anything change?

Every detail in my artwork is planned before anything touches the canvas. I mock it up on my laptop. I sit with it, sometimes for weeks. I’m just very uncomfortable doing something until it feels right.

Tell us about your favourite artwork you’ve created.

Decision and Choices is my favourite, as it really changes the atmosphere of a space as a collective. “Decision” is both a painting and sculpture I’ve conceptualised based on the “Choices” installations in front of it. Each “Choices” piece is painted on all sides, so the set can look different depending on how I choose its orientation. I’ve started to work on more installation works ever since.

Decision and Choices

Do you have any artists you look up to? How do they influence you?

In my Curious series, I pay tribute to Piet Mondrian’s classic geometric style. Each artwork represents something that I’ve learned and come to understand about myself within the building blocks of my mind.

Curious III (left) and Curious I (right)

How do you stay inspired?

There are many days when I feel misunderstood in my interactions with other people, so I naturally want to put down my thoughts on canvas, to say it right for myself.

What’s your best tip to overcome an artist’s block?

Sometimes when I’m stuck, I draw something else instead in styles that are totally opposite from mine. My other passion is comic art, and I’m currently playing with a set of characters that I’m trying to breathe soul into. It helps take the pressure off my mind completely. Also sometimes a new art concept comes to me when I’m not thinking about it at all.

Is there anything new you would like to explore in the future?

I want to expand my creativity in NFTs.

What does art, or being an artist, mean to you?

To be an artist is to show forms of emotion not only in paintings, but in all forms of art.


Do you have any advice for young artists in Hong Kong who are just starting out?

Give yourself the patience that you need to build your own style and vision.

Tell us about Borders & Beginnings at The Spectacle Group.

Borders & Beginnings is my solo debut show, which includes some of the most significant works personally for me, as some of them are impacting the way I view my future direction.

The exhibition will introduce some new mediums such as Plexiglas® and fabric, marking my latest exploration of mixed media to compose forms and structure, which is not far from what I’ve always done.

Where else can we see more of your works? Anything you’re working on?

I’d like to continue to create with Plexiglas®, and to create more NFT art. A few of my current works will also be on show at Affordable Art Fair.

Borders & Beginnings will be showing at The Spectacle Group from now until 14 August, 2022 at 2/F, 2 Somerset Road, Kowloon Tong. Follow The Spectacle Group on Instagram to keep up-to-date with the exhibition.

Images courtesy of Ryan Chan and The Spectacle Group

Michelle Chan
A girl who got one (1) nostril piercing and let it dictate her entire style journey. Email me anything interesting!
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