Trevor Yeung is Hong Kong based artist whose practice, according to art writer and curator Cosmin Costinas, uses natural bodies and systems as a pretext for describing human processes and relations. We talked his recent work, favourite medium, the notion of control and its imprtant in the artist’s work.
Trevor Yeung is represented by Galerie Allen.

How would you describe your work and artistic practice in a couple sentences?

I would like to answer this question in a personal way. My works always have different entry points meaning that audiences with different backgrounds will have different interpretations to my works. I don’t want people to feel bad for not being able to understand my works so it is very important for the audiences to connect my work to their own experiences.

What project have you been recently working on?

At the moment I am working on two local projects in Hong Kong. One is at Tai Kwun Contemporary Hong Kong and another research project that will be exhibited in December. Both projects are related to the Hong Kong incense tree, an endangered tree, which gave rise to the name of Hong Kong, Fragrant Harbour.

I am also working on a plant-based installation for The Future Generation Art Prize exhibition at PinchukArtCentre and three seashell works for Galerie Allen in fall.

Trevor Yeung

What is your favourite medium at the moment and why?

Recently, I have been returning to my practice incorporation fish aquariums, stone, seashells and lamps.

Due to the travel restriction, I have spent more time in Hong Kong and in my studio. I decided to work on a project, which I have been wanting to do for many years and this. “Medium” requires me to go to my studio every day. The project is to breed one type of aquarium fish, the Guppy.

You often find inspiration in nature and in plants in particular. Where does this interest come from? What are some of your other sources of inspiration?

This interest started from the desire to care for living things. I have kept pets and plants since I was a child. I lived in a small apartment, so this “nature” I had was always small in size. They keep me company and I feel responsible when they are around. This relationship becomes more elaborate and gets clearer when I involve them in my art practice.

I am also inspired by human relationships, especially by intimate and personal experiences. These are things that concern me most and also scare me.

Little Armoured One, 2020. Pigment print, found photograph, lichen, sunflower husk, metal, and ecopoxy on glazed stoneware
Trevor Yeung

Tell us about your studio, its location and the way it is organised.

My studio is located in an industrial area. I share the space with another artist South Ho. It has a large window (which is actually for my plants). In my studio, a quarter of the space is filled with over 200 potted plants.  6 aquariums and 1 terrarium are set at the back of my working table.

Due to the big window, it is extra hot in the summer. The sun hits directly upon my working table and my back every afternoon. Sometimes I need to hide in the shadows to work.

I am going to set up a new studio this summer. With a bigger space and an accessible rooftop. I am sure it is going to be exciting and my art practice will change a bit too.

Trevor Yeung

You once said that you are interested in control. Why is it important for you and what are your ways of achieving control in your work?

There are many ways of control, I think my type of control belongs to the “I control because I care” variety. This interest started to form when I owned a pet, particularly tropical fish, because the fish will die if you do not control the system well inside the aquarium. The control can also refer to “at least I need to understand what is happening”, so when I try to achieve the control in my work I first need to know about the medium/material I am using, then to make it clear why and how I can deliver the idea of the work to the audiences. Especially when I work on an installation, I imagine the audience as fish and how I need to set up and arrange the fish tank so I can predict how they feel inside my installation.

Trevor Yeung

Do you have a particular routine or specific rituals when you work?

I have two boxes in my mind, one is for information, skills, and facts and something about nature. Another one is for stories, feelings, emotions and something about humans. I keep filling those boxes. When I work, I will pick ideas from those boxes.

Actually there is also a third box with things that are hard to explain, the material inside always gives my works a hidden layer.

Some of my projects are plant-related, I normally grow the plants myself so I can have a close observation and understand the species. I need to build up a connection with the subject before I can work with it, so the concept of my projects can sometimes take more than four years to develop into an artwork.

Tell us a little about a project, an artwork, an encounter, an event that particularly affected or influenced your practice and work.

Hahha, there is one. It is an artwork I saw by Olafur Eliasson, Your felt path (2011) in São Paulo.

I reencountered someone in the mist who I saw earlier in the hostel while I was checking out. Then we went to get a coffee and met again in Rio de Janeiro. Unfortunately the story didn’t come with a happy ending. That weird and special moment made this work a piece that influences my attitude towards my own artworks.

It may not be about the artwork itself, but the happening was inside that space controlled by the artist. After that experience, I have been trying to make my installations able to create more possibilities. It sounds very vague, but it happened 🙂

Due to my personality and my regular practice, making more uncontrollable factors can give myself and audience a moment to breathe and gain chances for different happenings.

You live in Hong Kong. Why have you decided to be based in this city? What’s your favourite thing about it and your favourite places?

I grew up in Hong Kong, it is the place that I feel I belong to. There are so many happenings in each second. It is like a gear that never stops. It sounds exhausting, but I find charisma in this place, and from the people here.

It is small but well equipped. It can be very efficient. If you want to take a break, you can go to the beaches or country parks in 30 minutes from the city centre. For my favourite places, they are still the flower market and goldfish street. I never get bored of them even if I don’t buy pets or plants like before. I can spend all day looking at people’s excitement from getting fish and plants home.

Trevor Yeung
Night mushroom colon (corridor), 2020
Solo show “there’s something missing”, Hong Kong
courtesy the artist and Galerie Allen, Paris

Learning to be a tree lover (Protection), 2021
Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong
courtesy the artist and Galerie Allen, Paris

two reliers, 2020
kulpturenpark Köln
courtesy the artist and Galerie Allen, Paris

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