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Art Exhibition by Celia Ko

In a new exhibition ‘Th at Moment Now’ on show at Lingnan University, Hong Kong artist Celia Ko presents three bodies of work that take as their subject the artist’s relationship to her maternal Chinese ancestry. In pursuing her subject Ko has created a trilogy of images through which the interior life of her family is approached from diff erent vantage points. Using large-scale images and hand made garments and jewellery Ko explores the pervasive power of familial myths and narratives.

The first part of the exhibition are large-scale portraits of her mother’s parents: grandfather Ling Tak Hung and grandmother Chan Chung Pak. Ancestor portraits are nothing new in China, their history stretching back to at least the Ming Dynasty. Typically such images are venerated at the family alter. Seated in authoritarian majesty they hover over family life as symbols of continuity and longevity. Ko’s portraits however break with the schematic conventions of ancestor imagery. Far from the Confucian ideal these larger than life images are derived from black and white photographs that reveal a couple in the fullness of life. Th e expressions animating their faces seem eerily suggestive – grandfather relaxed and confi dent, his wife rather less so: postures that one imagines might ripple across generations.

The second body of works are again larger than life, in this case depictions of Chinese ceramics and lacquer ware. Painted black on black the images stand as metaphors of family story telling – the past dimly evoked, present yet somewhat undefined. In common with ancestor portraits, ceramics and lacquer ware are definitively Chinese productions. As heirlooms they are symbols of continuity and prosperity. But as these images reveal, inheritance encompasses not only goods and chattel but social and personal conventions as well. These containers appear as dark repositories, of secrets or pacts, both spoken and unspoken made in the confi nes of the family home.

In contrast the garments assembled by Ko speak of outward appearance and social standing. With their rich fabrics and ornamentation, they announce their wearer’s confident place in the world. Inspired by costumes worn during the late Ch’ing Dynasty the artist has embellished these pieces with talismans of contemporary life, and in doing so draws a line between past and present. Discernibly, Ko’s work is concerned with both personal sentiment and broader social canvas. As statements of her Hong Kong heritage they stand in stark comparison with the island’s outwardly mercantile façade and in this they take their place with similar such artists who are likewise passionate about the cultural life of their island home.

Publication Date



Department of Visual Studies, Lingnan University


Hong Kong

Artist Biography

Ko Tin Yan, Celia


BFA, DRAWING & PAINTING, California State University, Long Beach, USA

Ko’s works are collected by Hong Kong Museum of Art and by private patrons. She received the Freeman Fellowship Award at Vermont Studio Center (2000-01), USA. Ko is an experienced teacher in art and design. Since Year 2000, she is a visiting lecturer at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, HKU-SPACE , Hong Kong Art School, and Hong Kong City University.

Solo Exhibitions

2/2009 “That Moment Now”, Lingnan University, Hong Kong

1-2/2008 “Faces & Places”, American Chambers of Commerce, HK

6/2006 “Objets d’amour”, The Economist Gallery, Fringe Club, HK

6/2001 “Lost in the Woods”, Red Mill Gallery, Vermont, USA

9/2000 “The Essence”, HK City Hall, HK

9/1997 “Detours to Paradise” The Fringe Gallery, Hong Kong

3/1995 “Paradise” Hong Kong Visual Art Centre, Hong Kong

Selected Exhibitions after 1995

6/2008 “20C Debut – Eclectic Visions”, HK Visual Arts Center, HK

4/2005 “Gan Guan – Observing the senses”, Counihan Gallery, Moreland City Council,Melbourne, Australia

7/2002 “Embark-Disembark”, Mass Gallery, Melbourne, Australia 2/2001 “Bundles of Paper”, John Batten Gallery, Hong Kong

4/2000 “Under the Bed”, Fringe Gallery, Hong Kong 11/1998 “Wall to Window” Group Exhibition, Para Site, Hong Kong

2/1999 “Works On Paper” Group Exhibition, John Batten Gallery, Hong Kong

7/1997 “Visions of Hong Kong” Group Exhibition, Taikoo Place,HK

6/1997 “Bad Art” Group Exhibition, Fringe Gallery, Hong Kong 4/1996 “Ink Momentum” Group Exhibition, HK City Hall, HK

3/1995 “HKG-SYD-HKG” Group Exhibition, Fringe Gallery, HK

Residence Period

Feb 21, 2009 3:30 - 7:00 PM

Exhibition Period

Feb 21- Mar 31, 2009


Artist-in-residence, art exhibition


Interdisciplinary Arts and Media | Visual Studies

Recommended Citation

Ko, C. (2009). That moment now = 此時.那刻. Hong Kong: Department of Visual Studies, Lingnan University.

That moment now = 此時.那刻