“Owen Leong’s sculptures and photographs in his exhibition ‘Original Nature’ at Artereal Gallery are striking in their poeticism, lyricism and contemplative nature. The soft and organic forms of the human body are transformed through concrete, crystal and metal as Leong conflates the distinctions between traditional and contemporary, landscape and portrait, body and mind.”
Soo-Min Shim talks to Owen Leong about this body of work in Art Almanac.
In this solo exhibition of sculptural work, Owen Leong draws on Taoist philosophies to explore the idea of original nature. A person’s original mind exists prior to cultural conditioning. Reconnecting with original nature involves emptying the self, until we arrive at an awareness unclouded by habitual thoughts, emotions and memories.
Original Nature explores selfhood through cycles of regeneration and decay. Leong uses personal mythologies to describe creation and obliteration of the self through artistic processes of casting, destroying, assembling and recasting. These sculptures show the body as landscape: human faces merge with mountain forms, while crystals and mushrooms grow from arms and hands. Through a contrasting language of man-made and natural materials – concrete, bronze, steel, marble dust, quartz crystal, beeswax – these works symbolise the journey towards original nature, to experience a deeper awareness within everyday consciousness.
Art Guide Australia
“Owen Leong is known for his subversive homoerotic self-portraits. He was commissioned to make a new work for the group show, The Unflinching Gaze: photo media & the male figure, currently on at Bathurst Regional Art Gallery. Tracey Clement spoke with the artist about turning the lens on himself, turning the tables on the normative photographic gaze, and the impending marriage equality survey results.”