B.C. painter Rick Leong‘s exhibition El Camino is on at Parisian Laundry until June 11, 2016.The 8 large-scale paintings in the exhibition were produced following the artist’s recent trip to Ecuador as part of the Feel Again Project. Leong took in the local flora and fauna of the coastal environment and responded to them through this series of paintings, which illustrate the extraordinary moments experienced on this journey, having become more fantastical through the subjectivity of memory.
Leong’s practice encompasses hybrid landscapes drawn from direct experience, memory, and imagination, and is also informed by eastern and western painting traditions. The encounter is an idiosyncratic one, often producing peculiar scenes that delve into magical realism. Furthermore, in Leong’s paintings the landscape can be understood less as a definitive backdrop than a fluctuating environment in relation to subjects that are imbued with their own histories and narratives that inflect one’s experience of them. In El Camino, this is most literally articulated in Guayaquil. The painting was inspired by Leong’s visit to a park in the city known for its wild iguanas. A bronze sculpture of two wild boars fiercely fighting stands in the corner of the park, a gift from the city’s Chinese community in 1885. Encountering this statue and learning of its history embodies the manner in which specific identities, intersections and differences echo throughout the landscape in unexpected ways.
Leong obtained his MFA from Concordia University (Montreal, 2007). In 2008, he was a finalist in the Royal Bank of Canada’s Painting Competition). In addition to having participated in many group exhibitions at various Canadian and international spaces, Leong has also been the subject of solo shows at Two Rivers Gallery (Prince George), Anna Leonowens Gallery (Halifax), the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, and the McClure Gallery (Montreal). He has been the recipient of numerous grants from the Canada Council for the Arts. Leong’s work is collected widely across Canada, including the collections of the ALDO Group, the Canada Council Art Bank, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.