This year’s Ebb and Flow exhibit at the North Vancouver Community Arts Council features artist Tony Yin Tak Chu’s drawing installation inspired by the Chinese pictograph for water. The theme of the exhibit is enhanced by four other artists – Carole Arnston, Sylvia Bayley, Tracey Tarling and Michal Tkachenko – whose paintings are encouraged by the concept of water.
Tak Chu’s current work featured in the exhibit, Lui Shui (Drifting Water) makes reference to water as a Chinese character in the form of a pictogram, an early development of Chinese characters.
“I like the viewers to experience different ways of art making, different mediums,” says Tak Chu. “It is more fun than confronting a piece of painting.”
Born in Hong Kong, Tak Chu moved to Canada in 1996. Post-graduation from the Emily Carr School of Art and Design visual art program, he moved from being an artist and a painter into mixed media installation.
Raised in a single parent household, Tak Chu first went into drawing and designing because he saw it as a way to pursue art as well as a way to support his family.
“I was interested in fine art even when I was 17 or 18 years old,” says Tak Chu. “Supporting the family was the right thing to do.”
Making the move
Along with his move to Vancouver, it took a number of steps for Tak Chu to move to where he is now artistically.
“When I first came to Canada, I needed to study and improve my English speaking and writing,” says Tak Chu. “I met this art teacher at South Hill Education Centre in Fraser St., Vancouver. She was a kind and multicultural minded person, and advised me to pursue my art journey.”
The motivation behind Yak Chu’s transition into installation artwork comes from an enjoyment of its technicalities.
“I worked as a draughtsperson at an architectural and engineering firm in Hong Kong, and I like the architectural sense of space planning,” says Tak Chu. “If a same piece of work can become a different work at a different space, why not go for it.”
But the medium is just a single aspect of the product.
“Art making is only part of the journey, whether it is painting or sculpting, the medium should not affect the importance of the artist’s’ work,” Tak Chu says.
Emotion is evoked from viewers through different art forms and is very much subjective; however, the installation medium adds new elements to viewing artwork.
Differing dimensions: Applying the past
Tak Chu’s Lui Shui was done using the medium of tracing papers.
“[Tracing papers are] the materials that architects or engineers used for design and drawing before computer aided design became popular,” says Tak Chu. “Installation art offers different dimensions as the viewers can walk through it, look at the work from different angles, through the spaces and experience the tension within the art pieces.”
The artist’s history as a draughtsperson brings a sense of comfort when working with these materials again.
“This translucent material works well with lighting, and this lightweight material can go anywhere with me,” adds Tak Chu.
Tak Chu’s work Lui Shui is only a part of the five-person show that is the Ebb and Flow exhibit, curated by Stefanie Wysota of CityScape.
“Sculptural or installation arts reflect the relationship of art and humans, the sizes, proportions, the contrasts and tension,” says Tak Chu about his personal pieces, which add a sense of movement and life to structure. “All these elements contributed to a successful piece of work.”