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Wuon-Gean Ho

Wuon-Gean Ho will talk about the culmination of an 18 month long residency as a Fellow of the Royal Academy Schools from 2016–8, when she produced a series of over 50 linocuts, each brightly-coloured and full of humour and narrative. The series was informally called the Diary Prints or Little Linocuts, one made every 10–14 days, for the artist’s father, who remains in a care home after breaking his neck in 2014. The prints show and tell of things that are hard to say in words, brought as a gift to decorate the walls of his room. There are types of narrative that, if spoken, would include the phrase, ‘You know when…’, that talk of specific spaces and situations, and types of anecdote which are modelled along the lines of the popular column in the Guardian, ‘What I’m really thinking…’, that talk of personal reactions and judgments.

 Visually, the composition and perspective borrows from film. The artist has incorporated herself somewhere into every image, though sometimes a reflection or a screenshot on the phone, or a point of view rather than a direct self-portrait. Wide-angle shots with roving perspectives pack more information into the scene, and there is a feeling that something happened before and will certainly happen after. The books will topple, the cat will jump, the dog will bite, the chair will fall, the granny will finish her tea, the dress will split, the meat will be eaten, the phones will get wet, and dinner will disappear into hungry mouths.

Spaces are close, influenced by living in a tight urban environment, there is little landscape, no idealism or quest for beauty; instead the scenes are of the now, and also tap into more universal experiences of being a woman in the western world: What it’s like to try on a dress in a shop and gaze at one’s body in horror; What it’s like to sit in a sauna full of boys; What it’s like to lounge around and draw in bed all day; What it’s like to drink wine in a bar with strangers; What it’s like to be exhausted on a train ride; What it’s like to be surrounded by people on their mobile phones.

The viewer is given a passport to roaming the small space: we see her, and we see behind her, we loom above and look around the corner, we circle the looped hands, follow the gaze of the figures across and around, our eyes swoop down the length of legs to newspapers and up to the cradled head of the sleeping passenger, we follow the swirls on the quilt to explore the room beyond. The stories are intimate, they are an overheard conversation between the artist and her father.