Silia Ka Tung-'Garden of Heavenly Delights'
curated by James Putnam
Mimmo Scognamiglio Artecontemporanea, Milan
The title of the show, a play on Hieronymus Bosch’s celebrated triptych, references its surreal imagery and takes us into a world inhabited by a host of weird and wonderful hybrid creatures and forms.
Tung’s playful paintings include random abstract elements that sit alongside organic shapes rendered in bold, vibrant colours. Both Eastern and Western myths find their place in the work: science fiction, religion, and phenomena from the natural world create an intriguing mix of modern, sci-fi like fantasy combined with the influences of Chinese culture and tradition.
Fascinated by the complexity of nature and the links between science, magic and mythology she often draws inspiration from trees, mushrooms and figs. Her ‘Voyage to the Worlds Unknown’ is a site-specific installation that occupies an entire room of the gallery. Comprising hanging soft canvas ‘fruits’ that are painted with colourful motifs, these also mirror the form of the figs.
’Large Fairy Ring’ is a floor-standing textile sculpture with a circular arrangement of exotically coloured fungi, the piece directly references the role of mushrooms in traditional Chinese medicine and the influence of growing up immersed in her father’s specialist Chinese medical practice.
Labour intensive and detailed, the intricate motifs on Silia Ka Tung’s soft sculptures and hanging textiles are meticulously painted, hand stitched and embroidered. These mysterious textile creatures that inhabit her colourful wonderland are hybrid mythological beings that personify magic, wisdom and folklore.
Born in Xinjiang, China, she has lived and worked in London since 1997. Following her training as a fine art painter in China and London, first at Chelsea College of Arts then at The Slade School of Fine Art, she went on to experiment with sewn textiles, creating soft sculptures of fantasy animals and organic shapes such as fruits and branches of trees. Growing up in Hong Kong, she was exposed to Asian pop culture, manga and fantasy TV series.