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An Artist’s Surreal Look Into Hong Kong’s Architecture

By Stasia Fong 9 December 2014
Artist Daphne Mandel is no longer on the outside looking in, choosing to peel away the outer skin of Hong Kong's architecture in her new collection, ‘Behind Hong Kong Facades’. We spoke with Mandel about the inspiration behind her newest series and the evolution from her surrealist ‘Hong Kong Facades’ collection. Featuring the same gorgeous colours, creeping plants, and quirky patterns of ‘Hong Kong Facades’, Mandel goes beyond peering past curtains by dissolving the walls that separate outer and inner space. “In my first years in Hong Kong I was trying to comprehend the city. Intimidated, I was standing outside catching glimpses of the inside. I now want to represent, interpret, and transform what I discovered,” Mandel told Localiiz.

Hong Kong’s rapid urbanization continues to inspire Mandel, however, she has no desire to represent buildings realistically, instead pushing the freedom of her medium, allowing the buildings to convey a dream-like aura. “The buildings in my series are rarely transposed as they are in reality. They can be distorted, cropped, juxtaposed, and sometimes the original building is no longer recognizable but the identity of Hong Kong’s architecture remains present,” Mandel said. Mandel’s previous training as an architect allows her work to retain an aspect of the real, though manipulated through her creative medium. Her 3D architectural rendering skills, combined with classic artistic techniques, such as painting and crayons, creates a sense of ultra realism. She also enlisted her former work partner, Karine Herman, a prominent Paris based architect. “These works explore varied interpretations of the base, the anchoring of a building. Some buildings are extracted from their existing context and positioned on a reinvented base, offering new perceptions of architecture. By isolating a building and reinventing its foundation, the building lives a new life,” Mandel said. Mandel said she sees infinite inspiration from Hong Kong’s architecture. “While the previous series was very frontal, like theatrical decor, the current one offers new angles permitting me to talk about 'behind' and 'inside' but also to begin to look 'under'. Looking under allows me to talk about the anchoring of the constructions into the ground. The fast transformation of the city produces an accumulation of layers, horizontal, and vertical, which constitutes its contemporary urban geology. Those stratum are an infinite source artistic inspiration.” ‘Behind Hong Kong Facades’ will be displayed at Man Mo Cafe until January 4th. What:'Behind Hong Kong Facades' by Daphne Mandel Where: Man Mo Cafe, 40 Upper Lascar Row (Cat Street/Off Hollywood road)Sheung Wan, Hong Kong When:October 31st 2014 - January 4th 2015, Open Tuesday to Saturday noon - midnightSunday 11am - 6pm, Closed on Mondays

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Born in Singapore and raised in Hong Kong, Stasia Fong is a freelance writer with dreams of breaking into the television industry and executive produce her own television show.