A woman in a party dress, hair tousled, one strap dangling half-way down her arm, saunters down a Parisien street on a hot June afternoon. Is her strong, sexual presence noticed by the man brooding in a trilby in the shadows? Rebecca Hong is a Chinese figurative painter who, like Jack Vettriano, has the gift of being able to capture the potential for romance and human drama in everyday scenes.
Her style is a seductive blend of Eastern and Western aesthetics, a co-mingling of herTaiwanese cultural heritage and her experience of living New York and Paris and being married to an American. In 'Spring' an anonymous businessman stands with his back to the viewer in a moment of suspended meditation as he is showered with spring blossoms. The incongruity of the subject to the sentiment creates a subtle tension in this work.
The artist is an unapologetic worshipper of the body beautiful. In 'Spirit', 'Jade' and 'Pearl' she sets her nudes against a background of gorgeous Eastern fabrics and Chinese characters. In 'George', one of her most successful nudes, the beautiful young, blonde man languishes in a chair with his cat. There are echoes of Lucien Freud or early Hockney here.
Hong started painting as a child who had to spend much of her time amusing herself in the hospital where her father worked as a doctor. She started covering the white walls with doodles and drawings from her imagination: "sometimes in escape from the harsh reality of a world filled with sickness and suffering and at other times inspired by the reflection of healing, hope and birth". After graduating from Taipeiís Chinese Cultural University of Fine Arts she moved to Paris where she began showing at the Salon des Artistes and galleries like La Menuiserie.
Throughout life Hong has painted her surroundings. but in her recent work she has turned the gaze inwards; as she describes it to "explore the inner spirit and the memory through uncovered human form in timeless space where symbols of my childís universe unfold, and via glimpses of fully clothed moments to which each viewer brings their own intimate script." The 'Man and the Sea' is a potent example of how inner drama is expressed in the mood of the painting, while the subject is turned away from us, looking out to sea.