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56 Conduit Street

‘Kūnlún'
Michael and Chiyan Ho

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Installation view, ‘Kūnlún’.
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Installation view, ‘Kūnlún’.
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Installation view, ‘Kūnlún’.
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Installation view, ‘Kūnlún’.
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Installation view, ‘Kūnlún’.
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Installation view, ‘Kūnlún’.
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Essence of Stone, ‘Kūnlún’.
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A Century, ‘Kūnlún’.
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In the Dark; Off the Air, ‘Kūnlún’.
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Blue Dawn, ‘Kūnlún’.
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Insidious By Nature, ‘Kūnlún’.
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Midway Downstream, ‘Kūnlún’.
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Essence of Stone, 2021, oil and acrylic on canvas.

The mountains of Kūnlún, in ancient Chinese mythology, are the dwelling place of gods and fantastic beasts. They are also, of course, an actually existing mountain range. This mystical locale, situated somewhere between reality and myth, provides a particularly apt window into the practice of Michael and Chiyan Ho. The duo studied architecture at the Architectural Association in London before developing an idiosyncratic painting practice that involves pushing specks of acrylic paint from the back of the canvas to the front to form the backdrop, then switching to oil to paint the figures on top. In this laborious process, marked by both formal ingenuity and symbolic fecundity, an enigmatic space—one in which ambiguous protagonists lie afloat in nocturnal fields of lush foliage—is called into existence.

V.O Curations is pleased to announce Kūnlún, the first solo exhibition by artist duo, Michael and Chiyan Ho. Comprising seven new oil and acrylic paintings, this new body of work developed during their residency, employs myth, metaphor and magical realist narratives as a form of worlding and to explore Chinese diasporic identity.

A newly commissioned text by writer and curator, Alvin Li, will accompany the exhibition.

Michael Ho (b.1991, Arnhem, Netherlands) and Chiyan Ho (b.1993, Hertfordshire, UK) live in London and have worked as an artist duo since 2019. They graduated from the Architectural Association (London) in 2019 where they both currently teach. Working across different mediums, their creative practice predominantly focuses on painting. As second generation immigrants from China, their work explores issues pertaining to the Chinese diaspora, cultural mismatch and subsequently cultural (re)discovery.

Michael and Chiyan’s work has been presented in a solo exhibition as part of Intra-action at Soft Opening, London (2021) as well as group exhibitions including Dazed x Circa Class of 2021, London; Delphian Gallery Open Call 2021, London; Radius at Wirdnachgereicht, Basel (2019); and Figuratively Speaking, an online exhibition curated by Claire Kidd for Kunstmatrix (2020). Their work has been published in The Editorial Magazine, Hero Magazine, AArchitecture 35, Compromise and Low theory 1 & 2, a bi-annual digital publication by curator and writer Kate Wong. They collaborated with Iranian artist Reza Aramesh on Centrefold, a weekly collective art-making event that resulted in a limited edition publication. Recent commissions include ‘Lucky House’, a short film for the ICA / BBC New Creatives program and ‘Echoes from the Void’ for the Film and Video Umbrella. Forthcoming exhibitions will take place at ICA, London (2022), Gallery Vacancy, Shanghai (2022), Guts Gallery, London (2022), AORA, Online (2021)

Download the press release here.