Howie Tsui’s Horror Fables
Curated by Sandra Dyck
27 April – 14 June 2009
To view a slideshow of related images, please download and install the latest version of the Adobe Flash Player.
Ottawa-based artist Howie Tsui explores themes of subversion and cultural assimilation through a blend of traditional Asian imagery and Western underground aesthetics. Horror Fables presents his new large paintings, made on paper in the form of Ming Dynasty scrolls, which conjure a phantasmagoria of beasts, ghosts, demons, and gods (and the occasional everyday human) who populate fantastical landscapes.
Tsui’s work is informed by a variety of dark subjects, including Asian ghost stories, Buddhist hell scrolls, Hong Kong vampire films, neo-conservative propaganda, and twentieth-century genocides such as the Nanking massacre. He describes the exhibition’s overarching theme as a struggle against “powerful, merciless structures,” citing as examples corporations, political regimes, and social constructs. It also satirizes, in the broadest sense, the atmosphere of fear perpetrated in the West since 9/11 and captured in now-banal catchphrases such as “axis of evil” or “war on terror”.
Dim lighting and a spectral soundtrack culled from 1960s Japanese horror movies attend your passage through the artist’s haunted world. There, you’ll find a space both abnormal and paranormal, where dread and glee, the grotesque and the sublime, fluidly co-exist.