In his latest show at JPS Gallery in Hong Kong, artist Prodip Leung puts forth his vivid imaginations of extraterrestrial life and ancient civilisations through a series of works across different mediums.
TEXT: Vera Chiu
IMAGES: Courtesy of the artist and JPS Gallery
As the world crazes upon the arrival of the metaverse, Prodip Leung goes back to the basics of our metaphysical world in “Odd Fellas”—the fourth and largest exhibition of the Hong Kong artist—presenting the endless possibilities of the universe through a series of paintings, sculptures, and prints.
Upon entering JPS Gallery, visitors are met with characters that might have walked out of a comic strip. Mantises, wrestlers, Godzilla, and an alien that looks like it is from Mars Attacks!, are all proudly standing inside their designated canvas frames. With graphic details made through the precise lines and bright colours on a clean canvas, each character introduces themselves in a variety of manners. Some of them are battling, others greeting the viewers with open arms, but most of them in a meditative state, posing with symbolic gestures.
Take Being 6 (2021) as an example. The pensive figure, with closed eyes and a slight smile, has an opened third eye on the forehead. A firm believer in ancient civilisations and their connections with alien lifeforms, Leung refers the third eye to the gateway to higher consciousness in many cultures and religions. Being 6 is among the various artworks that he presents these links to his audience. In Zetans (2021), Scarlet Woman (2021), and Anunnaki (2018), the artwork titles refer to visitors from afar who are said to have connections with our civilisation. Each triangular canvas is divided into smaller triangles that pocket a mysterious symbol.
Leung’s art has always been related to extraterrestrial life, as it is part of his personal history. When he was young, he once sighted lines of light that resembled the shape of a spaceship on the sky in Kowloon. This experience subsequently intrigued him into researching the matter. He expressed that his art is merely a presentation of the knowledge he has obtained throughout the years, which includes the study of alien lifeforms, the power of the universe, the mystery of ancient civilisation, and surprisingly, his caudex plants.
POG Fever (2021) portrays a mystical character sitting next to a succulent plant, while fashioning a cape with the logo of Leung’s plant brand. The pairing of aliens and caudex plants, both seen as bizarre and eccentric, reflects the artist’s lifestyle as an individual living on the edge of society.
Nirvanalien (2021) also acts as a host of Leung’s research. It features a six-armed character with each pair of hands gesturing symbols taken from yoga practices. As a vinyl figurine, Nirvanalien reflects Leung’s childhood dream to make toys. The same character is also made into an incense burner, where its functionality reflects a more “adult” practice.
When it comes to discussing Leung’s works, it is hard to overlook his more well-known identity as the bassist of LMF, the most popular—also the most controversial—hip hop band in Hong Kong. As Leung mentioned in many interviews, he has always found band cultures in foreign countries more relatable, and his artistic explorations and cultural knowledge stem from listening to different kinds of indie and rock music. Indie music, skate culture, and street cultures are intertwined with his work, notably in Untitled (2021), a longboard overlapped with paintings of aliens, anime, and monsters.
Not all would agree on the existence of alien lifeforms, but many of the exhibited paintings pose much scientific knowledge related to everyday life. As believed in many ancient civilisations, the matters of arts, mathematics, and science are strongly associated with one another and are to be seen as a whole. It is only in modern times, as we divide the education system into subjects, this interlacing ability of the disciplines becomes subordinate. I enjoy Leung’s artwork, because he articulates mathematical phenomenon in an artistic way. For example, numeric codes 3, 6, and 9, referred to as the “key to the universe” by scientist Nikola Tesla, are repeated as numerical patterns and shape formations in his paintings. It is as if he is rebuilding the disciplines in a more inclusive composition: making mathematical, scientific and artistic knowledge seen as one again.
It is easy to brush off the artist’s claims on how ancient civilisations exist and possess powerful technology and links to extraterrestrial lifeforms. Like viewing other forms of art, it is always beneficial to keep an open mind. It did not take much for Leung to start his lifelong research. The curiosity definitely did not kill the cat and has brought him one step closer to explaining those flashing lights.
With the colourful facades, ordinary art lovers can see his work as characters inspired by myths and legends, whilst believers of occultism will find fun in discovering the implied symbolism. The exhibition is like a visual encyclopedia of mystical cultures. In a good way, “Odd Fellas” has definitely left me with more questions than answers about the truth out there. As Leung expressed, his paintings are “the messages from outer space”.
11 February – 4 March 2022
JPS Gallery, Hong Kong
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