Into the World of Palpable Objects and Fruitful Delight, a solo exhibition by Malaysian artist Fan Chon Hoo (b. 1982, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) at Eleven Spitalfield’s. The artists first UK solo show. 

Shortlisted for the Saatchi Gallery and Channel 4’s New Sensations 2010, Fan Chon Hoo is an artist with a uniquely compelling visual language. By assuming the role of a modern-day amateur antiquarian and anthropologist, one informed by earlier figures of 18th and 19th-century travellers and amateur naturalists, Hoo explores the role that cultural artefacts have as residues and deposits of the process of cultural translation.

Amongst these cultural artefacts, the Willow Pattern chinaware and the Victorian copper jelly mould underline for Hoo the notion of cultural translation. In works such as the Blue and White Collection; a series of paper earthenware works created in response to the Willow Pattern invented by English craftsmen in the late eighteenth century and embellished with imaginary landscapes made up of oriental architectural structures, exoticised follies from ornamental gardens found within the UK, Hoo playfully explores how a foreign culture can be appropriated and translated then subconsciously tucked into the local culture. On the other hand, The jelly moulds collection explores the seeming de rigueur of the decorative Victorian dessert to nostalgia and moral sentiment. Crafted from brightly coloured and luminous gelling agents imported from Indonesia and produced from moulds informed by Rococo & Neoclassical architectural details, these eloquent and beguiling works attempt to call attention to the incongruous relation of expropriation and appropriation.

Exhibited at Eleven Spitalfields, one of a number of Georgian townhouses built in the late 17th and 18th centuries to accommodate the French Protestant (Huguenots) silk weavers, and subsequent immigrants, a highly appropriate setting for Hoo’s accomplished and confident works and ongoing exploration of cultural translation, taste & luxury, and his intervention into the narrative of history as represented through cultural artefacts, and how our understanding of contemporary European culture is informed by the ‘new luxury’ of an affluent society in the eighteenth & nineteenth-century Britain.

The exhibition is an encounter with Fan Chon Hoo’s prodigious talent for creating accomplished and thoughtful works that evoke and echo the authentic, and through his idiosyncratic experimentations, question the positing of origin through his subtle and irreverent exploration of artifice.

Fan Chon Hoo studied photography at the London College of Communications. His work has been exhibited at The House of Noblemen, 2 Cornwell Terrace as part of Saatchi Gallery and Channel 4’s New Sensations 2010, organised to find and support the most imaginative and talented artists graduating in the UK. In 2013 he co-founded Run Amok (RA), an art gallery in George Town, Penang, Malaysia with the late Trevor Hampson. RA is now run as an art collective by Liew Kwai Fei, Minstrel Kuik, Hasanul Isyraf Idris, Tetriana Ahmed Fauzi and Hoo Fan Chon. Hoo recently received a solo exhibition at The Back Room, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2021) and he has participated in a number of group shows in Asia. Also active as a curator and a grassroots cultural producer. 

Read a review of the exhibition in Artco magazine (Taiwanese only)

In memory of Trevor Hampton.