Agnes A list art

Agnes A List: Artist Interview with Dominique Fung

By Agnes Lew
Jul. 15, 2021

Second generation Chinese Canadian artist Dominique Fung’s works draw from her Cantonese roots and the experience of being Asian in the Western world. Her paintings are a bricolage of ancestral memory, history, artifacts, allegories and the repurposing of ideas.

“Dominique’s compositions are at once haunting and enchanting, not to mention delicious!” says Agnes Lew, East West Bank’s senior vice president and head of private banking. “I immediately fell in love with her depictions of food, but there’s a lot going on beneath the surface as well. Referencing art history movements globally, her paintings offer subtle, wry commentary on the way the West sees the East, and how she sees herself within this dichotomy.”

In collaboration with the Gallery Association Los Angeles, Lew is interviewing prominent artists in the art world during the pandemic to showcase their work. Over 80 galleries have united to create an online space called Gallery Platform LA to provide art aficionados around the world a way to virtually enjoy and engage with art. Gallery Platform LA features 10 gallery “viewing rooms,” along with a selected project that rotates every eight weeks. East West Bank is a proud sponsor of Gallery Platform LA.

In this edition of Lew’s artist series, she speaks with Fung about “It’s Not Polite to Stare,” her recent exhibition at Jeffrey Deitch, New York. The artist’s recent works are influenced by Dunhuang frescoes on the Silk Road and other displaced objects from Asia in The Metropolitan Museum’s collection. She opens a two-person exhibition with Katherina Olschbaur this fall at Galeria Nicodim in Bucharest, and her second solo exhibition with Nicodim Los Angeles in February 2022.

 Agnes Lew, East West Bank’s senior vice president and director of private banking

About Agnes Lew

Agnes Lew, East West Bank's senior vice president and director of private banking, leads a team of financial advisors that provide financial and investment advice, ranging from retirement to estate planning. Lew is often referred to as a cultural concierge by her customers.

More about Agnes
Dominique Fung

Q: Do you have an interest in surrealism?

I’ve always had a fascination with surrealism. However, it took me many years before I felt comfortable drawing these parallels to my work. I only truly began referencing some surrealist ideologies when I found female-identifying painters like Honoré Desmond Sharrer, Dorothea Tanning, Frida Kahlo, Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo, Méret Oppenheim, Kay Sage, Louise Bourgeois, and many more.
“Tobacco,” 2021. Photo Genevieve Hanson. Courtesy of the artist, Nicodim Gallery, and Jeffrey Deitch.

Q: Describe for us your creative process?

A big part of my creative process is spent photographing or finding images from auction catalogues, museum collections, film stills and collaging photographs to create a base layer as a reference to draw from. I’m currently enthralled by Dunhuang mural paintings. Because of this, I’m beginning to experiment more with line, and I hope some of these elements will begin to bleed into my paintings.
“Bone Holding Fan,” 2021. Photo Genevieve Hanson. Courtesy of the artist, Nicodim Gallery, and Jeffrey Deitch.

Q: What are some themes and ideas you are working with right now?

I’m interested in investigating the specularized yellow person. Always aware we are being gazed upon in a specific light in media, history and in life in North America, our personhood is rendered invisible by this dehumanizing gaze. Paintings such as “Bone Holding fan” with the blurred fans are attempting to achieve a sense of distortion—a figure that is not solid, rendered invisible, but so haunting you cannot look away.
One new idea I've begun to work with is the theme of celebration, which I had not done in the past. I want to hold complexity in my ideas and image-making. The painting “The Largest and Most Formal Meal of the Day” is my attempt at bringing in celebration and pride of the Cantonese foods I grew up with.
"The Largest and Most Formal Meal of the Day,” 2021. Photo Genevieve Hanson. Courtesy of the artist, Nicodim Gallery, and Jeffrey Deitch.
Sculptures have recently appeared in my work. When I’m painting, I think of each form as a sculpture, so naturally it made sense to try to materialize some of these objects. I was experimenting at a ceramic studio for a year and a half before the pandemic. I took a break from it, but then decided to try to make some in the studio. Luckily they turned out well and made sense conceptually to include in the show.

Q: Food is often featured in your works. Do you cook?

I love to cook! Although, with my recent busy schedule, I have not had as much time. When I do cook, I’m a big fan of steamed fish with green onion, ginger, soy sauce and pouring hot oil on top for the final touch. A beef stew with carrots and daikon radish is also a staple in my household.

Q: What is your dream project?

My dream project? This is a hard one. I have many large sculptural project ideas I want to make, and I’m sure in due time I can actualize some of these grand ideas. Also, at some point, I want to publish a cookbook of recipes from living artists.

LACMA’s “Legacies of Exchange”: An Eastern Perspective of the West

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