Phantasmagoria is defined as “a bizarre or fantastic combination, collection or assemblage.” So it is fitting, then, that Australian artist Chloe Bennett named her exhibition of quirky, dreamlike images after the fantastical phenomenon.
“When I looked it up, ‘phantasmagoria’ was (defined as) these images of the imagination, illusions of the imagination, and I guess that’s how I see these pieces,” said Bennett, who came to Hong Kong for the first time on 9 March to launch her exhibit in Causeway Bay.
“These images are concocted from my head based on either my experiences or just out of curiosity, so that’s where the imagery comes from.”
The 28-year-old artist is now hosting her first ever exhibit at the J Plus Hotel by YOO. The spray paint on canvas artworks follow in the pop art tradition made famous by Andy Warhol. The artworks feature “signature flat aesthetic colours paired with clean lines to create a bizarre collection of images,” Bennett says.
In the collection, pairs of female legs appear to be growing out of a television set as if they were antennae; legs also replace the blades on scissors and, when attached to pieces of fruit, they transform peaches and pears into derrières – a play on the way that women’s bodies are viewed and labelled in society. Another piece, Sleepytime Tea shows two teabags filled with pills, which seems to suggest that society may be a tad too reliant on quick fixes, however risky they may be.
“I like to explore the happenings of the world through my artworks and look at what our culture has become and what we represent and our values,” Bennett says.
Bennett also takes ordinary objects and turns them on their head, reinventing them in bizarre and novel ways. For the exhibit, she was asked to create a Hong Kong-themed piece, so she created Brain Food: a dim sum bowl with two brains inside instead of siu mai.
“Brain Food originates from my love of discovering new cuisines,” she says. “I like the idea that something one may consider completely mundane or part of the everyday is somewhat of a discovery for another.”
Merchandise featuring her artwork – including mugs, postcards and notebooks – will be sold exclusively at the exhibit, and notebooks will placed in hotel guests’ rooms for them to use. J Plus Hotel, Hong Kong’s first art-centric boutique hotel, displays the works of several different artists throughout the year. Phantasmagoria, which is open to the public from now until 8 July, is the seventh art exhibit the hotel has hosted.
J Plus Hotel by YOO is located at 1-5 Irving Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong.
Text: Emily Petsko