【Intimate Portrait】More than a White Cube / Rachel Cheung

(2016 February) The shoulder relaxes, breathing deepens, trivialities are forgotten…… The experience of stepping into Unit Gallery (Unit L5-23), a carefully maintained white cube gallery, can be quite extraordinary. The pristine white setting provides a neutral space free of context so that artworks in it can appear to be self-contained. White cube galleries are sacred spaces of timeless quality which has become the standard for contemporary art display.


White - a dual utility artistic space

A cube with six white surfaces and a handful of unobtrusive white plinths scattered around, Unit Gallery is more than meets the eye. Hiding at its back is the ceramic and glass studio of artist and curator Rachel Cheung.


“Originally conceived mainly as a platform for exposure and exhibitions, it became a motivation for my creative work.” Established in 2009, Unit Gallery is an independent exhibition space which provides artists with an alternative to mainstream commercial art galleries. Although relatively small, the gallery is compact and flexible enough to accommodate various spatial arrangements. “It also allows me to extend my artistic creativity into curatorial work and provides me with the opportunity to promote ceramic in Hong Kong. The transition of role from artist to curator has broadened my artistic perspective and propelled my career development.”


Despite resource limitations, Rachel manages to present a new exhibition almost every month at Unit Gallery to showcase works by both established and emerging artists. Most of the exhibitions are self-funded, and all of them are invariably admission fee.


White – works of finely balanced minimalism

Rachel originally worked in fashion design, but decided to sacrifice her startup business in pursuit of an artistic career after completing an art degree course majoring in ceramic. She possesses double Masters in Fine Art and Glass, has participated in artist residency programmes in England and Scotland, was a prize winner in Hong Kong Art Biennial Exhibition 2001, and has artworks collected by Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong Heritage Museum and Taiwan Yingge Ceramics Museum. She is currently a lecturer and programme coordinator at Hong Kong Art School. Despite her busy schedule, she still finds time to create new works, the most recent of which have participated in exhibitions at Giant Year Gallery and Asia Hotel Art Fair 2015 in Hong Kong.


Rachel’s artworks are often white, abstract, minimal and explore the notion of “equilibrium”. She expresses her philosophy through the fragile quality of ceramics and its combination with other materials. “The thorough understanding of a single material, idea or person is a long process. It takes time and effort to find the connection and balance, whether it is between people or between people and nature.”


White – purity and sobriety


The philosophy of equilibrium is assimilated into not only Rachel’s works, but also her curatorial practices. Playing a dual role of both artist and curator at Unit Gallery, she has to make effective use of both the right and left brain to manage her emotional and logical decisions. “I do not and cannot deliver everything single-handedly by myself. None of this is possible without the strong and selfless support that everyone has given me and the gallery.” She is thankful to all the artists, friends, working partners (such as professionals in public relations and design) and students for helping her make Unit Gallery a success.


Rachel actively connects herself with the world through arts and ceramic exhibitions at Unit Gallery. It has led to collaborations with various artists, including many from JCCAC - like Reed Cheng and Kiwi Liu (Miss FAT), for example. This month, she will join Lumenvisum (Unit L2-10) to give artist talks and also present a solo exhibition 《Between the Tastes》 of Francis Yu’s works at Unit Gallery. Steadily and surely, the creative dynamics of Rachel and other ceramic artists is helping to carve a special niche for this art form at JCCAC.


Please click here to download《JCCAC PROGRAMMES》(2016 Feb issue)


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