Each week Rachel Moore is on the hunt to find out what makes Canberra special to all the wonderful folks who live here.
I don’t imagine that this article series would have an enduring presence if everyone answered the Faces of Canberra questions like Hou Leong. But. Hou Leong is not like everyone else. This contemporary artist has been breaking and challenging boundaries since he arrived in Canberra from China almost thirty years ago.
19 Kennedy Street in Kingston at “The Silk Road Gallery” is where you will find him some of the time. Here he invites you to join him for tea whilst sitting amongst his truly unique, special and intricate pieces of art and specialist furniture. Hou loves talking to people about the history of tea as he shares a brew, discusses whether to steep or not too steep and invites us all to gaze upon our navels.
Originally he attended art school in Shanghai at the Huasan Fine Art School before joining the elusive alumni of the Australian National University School of Art. Here he studied photo media, graduating with first class honours… and it’s easy to see why. Hou’s art from this time was uniquely ground breaking and challenged the pop culture ideas of what it means to be Australian. In 2001 the National Gallery of Australia hosted his “Federation” Exhibition and most of the pieces are still relevant today as we slip and slide through multiculturalism in Australia.
Hou wanted to know the difference between contemporary art and conceptual art as the two schools of thinking confused him. In parallel to this, he questioned why people were not more tolerant and more open to each other. Hou wanted to produce art that needed no words and spoke for itself, needing little to no explanation. The conclusion he came to at that time was he enjoyed making non-functional art. It is clear that all pieces he produced during this period reflected strong ideas and thoughts that modern life is learning to tolerate anything and accept it.
This artist firmly believes with freedom comes responsibility and with greater freedom comes greater responsibility, something our great nation seems to forget sometimes. It is very clear with some of the tongue in cheek concepts from his earlier days that nothing means anything anymore but in the same breath, anything is possible for artists if they set their mind to the passion and freedom that is within them.
These days Hou loves exploring colour and has continued to impress audiences with recent exhibitions expanding into experimentation with inks and paints rather than photography. He continues to take photographs and you can view his incredible pictures on Instagram, facebook and his website.
I could not recommend more highly to anyone reading this, if you have the time, and Hou does too, (busy man with a lovely family) join him for a cup of tea. It may surprise you just how much a good brew and amazing conversation can change your perspective.
Name – Hou Leong.
Age – 53.
Occupation – Artist.
How long have you lived in Canberra – 28 years.
North, South or Q-town – North.
Things you love about Da Berra – Bush capital.