Vol 39(4) - Tend the Ground
Kevin Chin says his paintings meld ‘foreign and familiar landscapes with domestic interiors to explore the fluidity of “home”.’ The image in Tend the Ground is both remembered and imagined, so the dream-like figures may at first seem strangely out of place, yet the clue is in the work’s title.
While in studio residency in Tokyo, the Malaysian-born artist ‘observed the many ways that Japanese people connect to the land.’ His oil on linen painting juxtaposes the sweeping ritual of groundsmen at sumo wrestling matches against a brilliantly-hued forest setting. The heightened colours help depict ‘a place that is both nowhere and everywhere’, and reflect Chin’s own sense of cultural dislocation, both in Japan and as a migrant in Australia.
By questioning the relevance of ‘home soil’, the artist considers how it is that we create a sense of belonging within our global village. Chin plays on our attempts to realise dreams for a better life — through migration, consumer travel, marriage or home renovation. By re-assembling fragments of paradise with the domestic, he finds the otherworldly within the everyday.