Grey Projects


Gaze and Gloss by Jon Chan [2019]

[12.06.19 — 08.08.19]

Gaze and Gloss, a new suite of paintings by Jon Chan, his second solo exhibition at Grey Projects. These paintings alternate between images of deeply ambivalent figures, drawn from various news and documentary sources, and images of public space security cameras. Taking his cue from two novels, Shusaku Endo's Silence and Julian Barnes' The Noise of Time, Chan pursues the alienation of individuals caught in a doubled estrangement. Chan’s images depict various groups of people estranged from both their idealisations and the systems of coercive authority that presses upon their ideals a persistent threat of violence.

The scale of these small paintings are the artist’s recollection of the page, in particular the pages of sequential comics, with their single and multiple panelisations and the formal inferences of time passing. In their alternation between the seeing machine and the individuals responding to being seen and machine recording, Jon's images suggest storylines occurring mostly outside the frame - legal proceedings and disputes, neighbourhood crises, speeches, punitive endings and other consequences. The small misalignments in sightlines are telling - while the individual figures affect an awareness of being photographed or seen, they do not maintain direct eye contact with the camera; in the paintings Strings, 1987/2019 and Blindspots, the eyes are blocked from view or deliberately effaced. Even in the most direct of the new paintings See Through (all 2019), most of the men look just passed the camera to the crisis forming up behind it. To not see is the very premise of non-diegetic narrativity, of storytelling outside the visible screen. Yet sequential comics, though para-cinematic in its diegetic and non-diegetic narrativity, maintains important distinctions from cinema. It is exponentially slower, with potentially infinitely more occurring in the gap between each comic panel than between the filmic frames; and it is silent. The crucial ambivalence in Jon's paintings lie here. In the silence we ask what else is going on.

Jon Chan (b. 1982) is a Singapore-based artist. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (First Class Honours) in 2007, and a Masters of Fine Arts, from LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore. Chan is the winner of the Winston Oh Travel Award for the years 2003 and 2007. He was also the winner of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Arts award of 2007. Other than having numerous exhibitions showcasing his paintings.