ON THE SURFACEby Niamh McCooey
The artist Pak-Keung Wan practices his art with restraint. Working with pages taken from glossy magazines, he slowly, gradually sands away the surfaces of each page; wearing down the original images of fashion models until there is little or nothing left. Having made a collection of these works in the past, Pak-Keung is now remaking them for the third Global Print 2017, Portugal.
With a somewhat frugal approach to materials, the artist doesn’t let the dust from the sanded pages go to waste. Instead, he gathers them up from his desk after sanding and sweeps them into jars to be used in his lunar-like landscape installations. ‘In the powder that is gathered,’ he explains, ‘there are physical similarities to what I have read about lunar dust… It is soft, like snow yet strangely abrasive. It's incredibly clingy too and sticks to your space suit, or in my case, my work attire is an old raincoat.’
Titled Sea of Fertility, this project was born out of Pak-Keung’s interest in writers block, drawing parallels between being stuck in a ‘word-less place’ and ideas of infertility. Exercising a great deal of patience during his making process, Pak-Keung makes sure not to tear through each page nor to erase the shadow of the original image entirely. His ability to hold back is key to achieving this ghostly aesthetic, reflecting the feelings of inescapability often felt when many makers experience creative blocks. This project goes to show, however, that a solution can often be right there on the surface.