The Design Files, Jun 2017
Elle Murrell, Kevin Chin: Refuge
...A trip to Indonesia last year was particularly influential to his latest work, ‘Refuge’. ‘I took an interest in what happens to the refugee boats that Australia turns around, and that are forced to land in Indonesia,’ says Kevin. However, myriad influences come through, as various different locations are conflated within a single canvas. ‘I’m interested in breaking down ideas of borderlines and nationalism – creating a sense of somewhere familiar but foreign at the same time,’ Kevin tells... 'I think we get desensitised to mass media imagery of the situation, especially when we can shrug things off as being far away. I think art is a means of translating things going on in the world into a more poetic space, where we can pause for contemplation; My aim is to subtly reference these issues in a way that’s gentle, that makes you want to look closer, and then ask more about what’s going on'...
Bundoora Homestead Essay, Feb 2017
Mikala Tai, The Possibility of Conversations
...With the delineation of borders and the constructs of us-them, majority- minority and centre-periphery proving to be political tools of division, Cai has gathered a suite of artists that refuse the constraints of such binaries. These artists, all of Chinese descent, present a reality where borders are not determiners. They carve out futures informed by cultural connections and are buoyed by the experience of globalism. They are not curtailed or contained but rather emboldened by possibilities of intersections and new communities. When faced with a culture of anxiety the collective spirit of an exhibition such as Closing the Distance is the foil to society’s socio-political divisions...
Art + Australia, mar 2017
Andy Butler, Closing the Distance
...Given the institutionally White nature of the contemporary arts sector broadly, and in Melbourne acutely, including only Asian artists—most of whom work in Australia—is a political statement. Notwithstanding recent ground breaking shows such as Sovereignty at ACCA, and some elements of the Asia Triennial of Performing Arts, it is still a relatively rare event to have this many non-White Australian contemporary artists of such a high calibre in the same exhibition. Australian artists like Owen Leong and Kevin Chin are represented alongside international artists Shen Wei (China/USA) and Chun-Yu Liu (Taiwan/UK). Closing the Distance is demonstrative of how a thoughtfully curated exhibition around a common non-White cultural background can bring out an analysis of difference within diasporic groups...
Bayside catalogue essay, mar 2016
Claire Anna Watson, Imperium of Dreams
In Kevin Chin’s paintings the phantasmagorical is unearthed. Whether it is strangers, his partner or himself depicted, it is as though his protagonists are all intertwined, engaged in an uncanny dance with not only nature but also earthly possessions. The purpose of this dance: to unravel the nature of reality and allow magic to intervene. It is a dance of self-dissolution, communion and bliss at the expense of time, sorrow and the minutiae of daily life. Pleasure and wonderment punctuate the works in this solo exhibition Worlds Away. Here, we are invited into a mythic world where a compendium of narratives coalesces and a hypnotic reverie is invoked...
Gippsland Gallery Catalogue essay, Nov 2016
Simon Gregg, A Song of Ice and Fire; Inside the John Leslie Art Prize 2016
...Something strange has happened in Kevin Chin’s painting Crossing—if we are to apply a literal interpretation that is. Rather, Chin might be leading us through a collage of memories and dreams, stitched boldly into a single vision. Children play in the snow; a pensive figure stands inverted on a bridge crossing an ornamental lake; while the chief protagonist and his companion row lazily through an upturned glade of trees. The effect is dreamy and surreal...
the age 13 may 2015
dylan rainforth, winner more than sum of its parts
Art almanac 8 may 2015
BAYSIDE announces inaugural acquisitive art prize winner
Melbourne-based artist Kevin Chin is the winner of the annual Bayside Acquisitive Art Prize, awarded $15,000 for his work, ‘Less than white’ 2015, a diptych painting featuring an imaginary snow covered landscape.
‘Less than white’ draws on Chin’s experiences of social isolation and self-described “surprising stillness” resulting from not being able to speak with other people during his recent studio residency at Youkobo Art Space in Tokyo. Chin described the landscape in ‘Less than White’ as “a place that isn’t here, a split image, or a divided memory. My investigation is into the foreign yet familiar – the shroud of events we try to forget and those that never happened,” he said.
The judging panel for the Bayside Acquisitive Art Prize included former Deputy Director of the NGV Frances Lindsay AM, Dr Vincent Alessi, Curatorial Manager, Ian Potter Museum of Art, and Julie Skate, Gallery Supervisor, The Gallery @ Bayside Arts & Cultural Centre. Frances Lindsay AM said, “In Kevin Chin’s diptych painting, the poetic beauty of the natural world is disrupted by dream-like intrusions of strange objects and figures.” This frisson between the real and the imagined, endows the work with both a meditative calm and a sense of disquiet,” said Lindsay.
Dr Vincent Alessi said, “For me, the power of Kevin Chin’s painting lies in its ability to progress the long-standing tradition of landscape painting. “Beautifully painted, the image has an unsettling quality, where reality is slightly amiss and a sense of the other resides without being able to be located...”
The Age 4 Apr 2015
Dan Rule, In the Galleries
Art Collector Apr-Jun 2015
Jane O'Sullivan, what Next: Kevin Chin
Art Collector COVER Jan 2014
Jo Higgins, A Sense of Belonging
...Going to Singapore Art Stage as part of THIS IS NO FANTASY with Dianne Tanzer Gallery will be Chin’s first international exhibition. The work he is showing there, a series of quietly quirky, beautiful landscapes rife with discombobulated dream-like narratives, has been developed while living in Tokyo, where he moved in March 2013 with his partner.
‘My work has always translated fragments of domesticity to investigate how we create a sense of belonging for ourselves but it’s really only because of my experiences this year that my focus has been on bringing this into the context of travel and global mobility.’ Travelling around Japan has offered Chin a simultaneous sense of both belonging and placelessness. ‘It’s the first time I’ve ever lived anywhere where everyone looks like me! In Australia I’m used to people asking where I’m from, whereas in Japan it’s the complete opposite and people are shocked to discover I’m a foreigner.’
Says Chin, ‘Japan is one of the few places in the world that still ties ethnicity to nationality and as a theme in my work, how you create a sense of belonging, that was of real interest...’
Inside Art Jan 2014
Catherine Asquith, Singapore moves to Centre Stage
...Probably some of the best painting I saw was from the Australian contingent; yes, it may well sound biased or even parochial, but there really was a very high standard of professionalism inherent to the Australian collection of booths. It’s a challenge to select just one Australian painter (as I enjoyed meeting with several), but Kevin Chin at Dianne Tanzer + Projects was a stand-out. He’s young, fresh-faced and is doubtless destined for a very bright future. Andrew Gaynor, recently appointed Gallery Manager, was very happy to discuss Kevin’s work, and clearly even more delighted to advise that one of the works had sold to a Hong Kong collector....
BEAM COntemporary Catalogue Essay 2013
Simone Hine, Framing Phantasm
Kevin Chin, Aimee Fairman, Lucy Griggs
...The series of paintings by Chin sit somewhere between dreams and memory. Little Pieces (Orange Wagon) looks as though it might depict a market: animals are strung up and fruit stacked, presumably to be sold. This image suggests the type of memories associated with travel as everyday sights can appear unfamiliar and thus noteworthy to a traveller. Following on from this, Little Pieces (Bricks) combines an unusual multi-coloured mound, in close proximity to an intricate street topiary and a circular ruin. In contrast, the fox in Little Pieces (Fox) presents a less natural scene. This detail appears almost surreal as the suspended fox seems paused in motion as it hangs above an open well. The three paintings combine to create the feeling that we are looking at the same place from different vantage points. However, the subtle slippages between the ordinary and fantastical create a delicate mix of commonplace moments and strange happenings typical of dream states....
Time Out 3 Feb 2013
Phillipa Rust, c3 Contemporary Art Space
Kings ARI Catalogue Essay 2011
Simon O'Carrigan, Disappearance
Lionel Bawden, Chris Bond & Drew Pettifer, Kevin Chin, Marcel Feillafe, Betra Faval, and Simon O'Carrigan (curator)
...In opposition to the other artists’ works, Kevin Chin views disappearance as a positive. His work displays the personal, private world of fantasy and play; a secure bubble within the domestic sphere. His notion of the void pervades his work across painted and sculptural pieces, where the cut-outs (peering through here and there in the form of canvas left blank or gaps in sculptural space and lines of sight) provide breathing space filled by the imaginary. Kevin’s partner dons a stolen magazine body, riding a seal through a vibrantly patched-together world of under-sea adventure, complete with floral arrangements and sea-animal toys. For Chin, this imaginary world is one disappeared into by choice. His accompanying sculpture provides a child-hood cubbyhouse, using stickers to improvise a lace tablecloth, now pink and dotted with smiley faces. The stickers on the plastic overlay are removed with only the edges of the sticker sheets remaining. Reversing the process of assemblage seen in the painting, this negative space rests only upon an absent tabletop, the only figures upon a blank canvas ground. The cubby-house is opened up, the barrier between private and public shifted from physical to imaginary...
Art Monthly Australia Nov 2010
West Space Catalogue Essay 2010
Ashley Crawford, A Life or Death Project
...There is, of course, a deeply rooted genetic motivation behind notions of renovation. One sees it in the ancient rock art of Arnhem Land, the sense of place, protection and security. One sees it in a child’s cubby house and one sees it in the fairly contemporary notion of the Panic Room, an unassailable position that refutes all threat.
Thus, when all around has become chaos, one retreats, one creates a fortress, a defensive position that allows pause and planning. One grabs whatever materials are available in an urgent frenzy to create shelter. Building detritus is sticky-taped together to create the ultimate panic room – nothing can break through those walls. A vinyl bear rug is brought into play, a shelter that would resist a nuclear blast to be sure. Chin and his partner Clinton have found safety at last. It’s child’s play. They have all they need, every colour in the universe to mull over. They have built their own Fortress of Solitude, a Bat Cave that no-one can find, let alone enter, brilliantly disguised as… all the crap they couldn’t agree on in the first place...
The Age 20 Oct 2010
Artereal Catalogue Essay 2010
Barbara Dowse, Positive Negative
Vilma Bader, Kevin Chin, Greg Hodge, and Chloe Vallance
...Kevin Chin’s works, whether installation or painting, seek to re-make and integrate his histories and those of others; to reinterpret physical space to create fictive sites, memories and ideas of home. By rearranging and transposing the pattern and placement of objects, Kevin Chin transforms the identity of a ‘lost’ space to pose and challenge physical and psychological notions of home and belonging – of here and now, and of ‘far, far away’.
In Chin’s LIttle pieces series, images and fragments drawn from photographs of sites and incidents from personal travels are removed from their everyday context. Surreal juxtapositions, including a fox, a fruit wagon and a wishing well floating in the space of individual canvases conjure a sense of fantastical children’s stories yet defy narrative and conventional spatial propositions. The objects hover, suspended at random in an unidentified cosmos as in a dreamscape; like disparate clues for a ‘write your own’ plot...
Journal of Australian Ceramics Apr 2010
Dr Kevin Murray, Concerto for Clay and Painting
...By contrast, the room that Chin operated in reeked of the past. The fireplace, window and floor boards spoke of another era. Rather than work against this, Chin drew our attention to its nature as Hearth, a centre of domestic gravity. He piled ash in the fireplace. He created ‘Logged’, a canvas painted with oil primer, whose subtle log shapes were only visible when light streamed through the window. And on the floor were cast floorboards, lit from below to highlight their contoured surface.
Chin’s exhibition works against the modern gaze, so accustomed to spectacle, and so quick to render reality in a snapshot. He is not there to provide a surface image of the world, but to offer instead an intimation of its material depths. As such, he discovers a dimension that can speak to us of the lost past as well. We know that the world has spatial and temporal dimensions beyond which we are able to experience in the here and now...
Linden Catalogue Essay 2009
Dr Elizabeth Presa, Hearth making
...Kevin Chin’s installation ‘Hearth’ invites us to reflect on what it means to be at home. He uses what is already in the gallery – the wooden floor, the window and the fireplace – and adds illumination, fired clay tiles moulded from the planks of a decomposing wooden bridge, a pile of cinders, and a large canvas containing painted images of wooden logs placed against the window to screen the light.
A persistent questioning of origins has led this artist to thoughts of the ground, ash and cinders. Why does this artist desire to maintain such a close relationship to the hearth through his work? Perhaps he knows that the Latin word for ‘hearth’ derives from focalia, meaning ‘focus’, and sees that in English ‘hearth’ contains within it four more words ‘hear’, ‘heart‚ ‘earth’‚ and ‘art’‚ that bring him even closer to the centre of his being. With each new dislocation and movement from culture to culture, language to language, do we not try to carry with us the embers of an originary home?...
The Age 6 May 2009
TCB Catalogue Essay 2008
Amy Marjoram, A hole in the roof
...Many artists adopt ironic imperfectionism as a means of escaping or challenging a hard-edge aesthetic of perfection that remains for many the default mode of working. Yet, Kevin uses his ‘soft edge’ aesthetic with unusual sincerity and care to undertake exercises of textural recollection, creating works of layered complexity that refuse to be slickly and summarily described.
The oil painting Woollens (2008) explores tactility summonsed and articulated from memory, “As I draw it’s as if I have to figure out what it is, how it feels.” The softness of the trees is the imprecision of blended impressions we have all experienced walking through nature. The enigmatic posture of the figure, a singular moment of captured concentration. Significance is often not in a moment, but in its sustainability as a memory. Intense events can be subject to corrosion whilst milder moments, like the feeling of adjusting a woollen hat with slippery mittened hands, can escape interrogation and be imprinted as clear recollection.
Rather than simply generating an image, the painting becomes a partial return of sensation; where inaccessibility made conscious in missing segments is punctured by areas of precise immediacy. Details in certain segments are forfeited, heightening the specific textural depictions in built up areas. In Woollens it is the brightly coloured patterns of the hat and gloves that feel burnt into the painter’s memory and now linger on the canvas...