Gayle Chong Kwan

GAYLE CHONG KWAN is showing two works for SINOPTICON – both are new commissions for the project. Gayle is a project founder and has been researching this work over the past few years.

Blueprint (series), Milawi ParliamentLuther Plaza, Ark HotelAfrican UnionKilambi Kiaxi, 2012, Five framed c-type photographic prints, Each 30 x 40” landscape {SINOPTICON Commission}


A series of c-type photographic prints, which play with viewpoints and perspectives through which we can consider contemporary developments in Chinoiserie. The works, which combine fixed Western viewpoints with deep, level and high distance vistas, refer to large-scale building projects in Sub-Saharan Africa carried out by Chinese firms and/or part-financed by the Chinese government, as well as recent master-planning projects in China, which are pushing building conventions in new directions. Each framed work has a miniature sculptural version of part of a featured building, which contains a lens through which you can re-view each work.

‘African Union’ refers to the recently opened African Union headquarters, with the entire 100m high building project, which cost £127milion, being funded by the Chinese Government. ‘Ark Hotel’ refers to the 30-storey hotel built in only 15 days near Dongting Lake in Hunan province. ‘Kilambi Kiaxi’ refers to the ‘new city of Kilambi Kiaxi’, stretching over 3.3million square metres, 20 miles south of the of Angolan capital Luanda, which was built entirely by Chinese constructors. ‘Luther Plaza’ refers to the Lutheran headquarters of Kenya in Nairobi, which was built by African workers, under the aegis of a Chinese construction company, and reflects a growing number of religious buildings being built by the Chinese in Africa.

The series draws upon research carried out of Chinoiserie wallpapers at National Trust properties and refers to architectural blueprints, blue and white porcelain, and cyanotype prints.

Impressions of Inner Mongolia, 2012, Animated film {SINOPTICON Commission}


This animated film developed from Gayle Chong Kwan’s research at the National Maritime Museum into the tea trade.  Investigating the huge movement of people and chinoiserie objects across the seas, the work is looped and imagined as a seemingly never-ending journey of the inner-senses.

Constructed out of back-lit tea leaves and tea stains, Chong Kwan’s animation makes reference to Salvador Dali’s pseudo-documentary to a fantastical and foreign land, ‘Impressions of Upper Mongolia’ (1976).

left: Blueprint, Ark Hotel, c-type photographic print

right: Impressions of Inner Mongolia, animation still