Bling Dynasty, a new Hong Kong pop art show by Ernest Chang, re-envisions "Rick and Morty", "South Park" and other popular animations in multi-cultural paintings
Found amongst studio-gallery space The Stallery WCH’s usual neon hues and contrasting palettes is Ernest Chang’s new pop art series Bling Dynasty. At first glance, one can see the contrasting shades and hard-edged colouring that define pop art in the 1950s. But unlike the works by Andy Warhol, Chang’s paintings have layers of fading colours, distinct subject-background compositions, embroidery, calligraphy and dark brown wooden frames––all of which are hints of traditional Chinese art. What’s even more unusual is Eric Cartman from South Park at the centre of a portrait dressed in a Yuan Dynasty robe, as well as other visual references from Rick and Morty, Family Guy and many more animation and gaming titles.
The exhibition featuring a series of new works created using techniques drawn from Western and Chinese art and handicraft traditions, including silkscreen prints on plexiglass, resin and bronze sculptures, as well as traditional embroidery and calligraphy.
In Bling Dynasty, every piece of his paintings has instantly recognisable images from global pop and consumer culture such as characters from animated sitcoms and video games. Chang hopes to offer tongue-in-cheek commentary on the dominating influence of Chinese consumer power on the global marketplace. Don’t Say Anything Mean (2020), for instance, reimagines a character from the South Park wearing luxury designer clothing in a portrait inspired by the painting of Kublai Khan from the Yuan Dynasty. By placing historical work from Chinese art and contemporary cartoons together, Chang reflects on today’s society that is heavily influenced by mass consumerism, corporate advertising and the streaming platforms.
“The word is apathetic,” he concludes. “For us as a generation, there’s all this bling outside, but there’s apathy underneath, because we are confused by our times, and by the values of what society has imposed on us.”
Bling Dynasty is shown in The Stallery WCH from February 20 to April 4, 2021