2Chinese-born, and now Canberra-based, artist Hou Leong focuses in his work, on the idea of cultural appropriation and perceptions of identity and tradition. He raises questions of identity, for example, by combining and contrasting familiar Australian and Chinese photographic images - both of people and of landscapes - in confronting and amusing ways.In his painting, he fuses Western tradition and Asian styles, such as in a recent series based on Leonardo da Vinci’s famous “Mona Lisa”.As Melissa Chiu writes in the catalogue for the 1997 touring exhibition “Paradox”, Hou Leong “...juxtaposes different cultural imagery, daring us to question his images and in turn question our own assumptions and expectations.”
4“An Australian (Wood chopper)” digital photograph, 1994. In this series, Hou Leong replaces key figures within well-known Australian images with an image of himself, creating stark cultural contrasts and demonstrating “an intention to disrupt deeply-held cultural assumptions.”(from the catalogue for the touring exhibition “Paradox” by Melissa Chiu, 1997).
6“An Australian (Outback Pub)” digital photograph,1994. What does it mean to be “an Australian”?This is the question Hou Leong poses in this series, where he places himself into familiar images, which contain “an essentialised idea of Australian-ness personified by Anglo-Celtic tradition”.(from the catalogue for the touring exhibition “Paradox” by Melissa Chiu, 1997).
8“An Australian (With the Flag)” digital photograph, Hou Leong, 1994. In this series, Hou Leong questions what it means to be an Australian.“The exclusion of other cultures within the myth of Australian identity is inverted by the inclusion of Leong himself in each image.”(from the catalogue for the touring exhibition “Paradox” by Melissa Chiu, 1997).
10“An Australian (Crocodile Dundee)” digital photograph,1994. Is the character Mick Dundee from “Crocodile Dundee”, as quintessentially Australian as the film’s makers might like to think?This seems to be the question Hou Leong poses - and answers, in his own original way - in this work from the series “An Australian”.
12“An Australian (Ampol)” digital photograph,1994. Placing himself into this familiar Australian advertisement, Hou Leong, as he does throughout this series, prods us into questioning what the term “as Australian as...” should really mean in today’s multicultural Australia.
14“An Australian (Surfers) digital photograph,1994. By placing himself into a photograph depicting one of the “typical” pastimes of Australians, Hou Leong raises questions about the blond, blue-eyed image often associated with the sport of surfing and indeed all too often, with Australian identity generally.
16“Shells on Li River” digital photograph,1995. In this work, Hou Leong places the Sydney Opera House on China’s Li River, surrounded by spectacular mountain ranges.It’s part of his landscape series, which draws “attention to the symbolic and cultural value that landscape holds in the definition of a sense of place”.(from the catalogue for the touring exhibition “Paradox” by Melissa Chiu, 1997).
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