of war, of love, of time

21 May - 25 June 2022

Opening Reception: Saturday, 21 May, 5 - 8pm

Installation; of war, of love, of time by Tobe Kan. Image by Kevin Todora.

Peter Augustus is delighted to announce our summer exhibition: of war, of love, of time by Tobe Kan Kiu Sin, an emerging artist from Hong Kong. This is the artist’s first solo show in the United States, and first show outside of Hong Kong.

The exhibition features 14 plant-themed paintings primarily comprised of acrylic and oil pastel on cardboard or canvas. The works were created between 2019 and 2022 during the ups and downs of self and required isolation in Hong Kong while Kan used art as a therapeutic expression. Often citing literature and psychoanalytic theory as inspiration behind her work, the show’s title is an excerpt from author Carol Mavor’s book Black and Blue, which Kan was reading during the curation of the exhibition. The sentence reads: “…feel the hurt of war, of love, of time like a bruise.”

Kan’s art practice is the visual representation of transcendent events the artist experiences. With a strong connection to nature, she creates work from photographs taken of plants near her studio or different temples around Hong Kong, and from found movie stills or newspaper images. Her velvety palette is dominated by rich shades of blue, a color which holds special meaning to the artist. Over the past several years, Kan has been researching the imagery and significance of blue in psychology, everyday life, pop culture, and literature, studying works including: Three Colours: Blue by Krzysztof Kieślowski, Blue by Derek Jarman, Perfect Blue by Satoshi Kon, and Blue Period by Japanese manga artist Tsubasa Yamaguchi, inspired by Picasso, in which a character says, “If what you see is blue, then let it be blue, whether it's an apple or a rabbit.”

Kan frequently draws from the words of Kafka in naming her works, including There was his man curled up asleep and Very necessary he must be alert(both from In the Penal Colony). The latter is a rephrasing of a sentence in order for the artist to juxtapose the works as “alert” and “asleep” within the context of a dream.

Other select works in the show, including Hungry Face, Relative Hysteria, Whisky Time, and Fridge Magic, take their names from the original soundtrack of the French TV series Les Revenants by Scottish post-rock band Mogwai. “Les revenants” is translated as “ghosts”, and the story tells of a small Alpine village where a group of people, dead and forgotten, suddenly and mysteriously return. By painting plants from different temples in this series, the artist wishes for a more complete farewell ritual for those who experience sudden separations in the real world.


Born in Hong Kong, Kan received her BAFA from RMIT University and Hong Kong Art School in 2017. In 2020, her work was featured in "Hong Kong Spotlight by Art Basel” at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, followed in 2021 with a group exhibition, "The Unsung 韌生", at JC Contemporary inside the Tai Kwun compound. Selected solo exhibitions include: Panacea, Gallery EXIT, Hong Kong (2021); and Peck-eyes Ravens, CL3 Architects Limited, Hong Kong Arts Centre (2018).

Installation; of war, of love, of time by Tobe Kan. Image by Kevin Todora.

There was his man curled up asleep; 2020; Oil pastel on canvas; Approx. 16 x 12 in (40.6 x 30.5 cm).

Shift 3; 2020; Oil pastel on canvas; Approx 23.4 x 27.6 in (59.5 x 70 cm).

Asleep 21; 2019; Oil pastel on cardboard; Approx. 9.8 x 7.8 in (20 x 25 cm).

Whisky Time; 2021; Oil pastel and acrylic on canvas; Approx. 15.3 x 10.4 in (39 x 26.5 cm).

Enraptured by this sight, he woke up; 2020; Oil pastel on canvas; Approx. 9.8 x 7.8 in (25 x 20 cm).

Hungry Face; 2021; Oil pastel and acrylic on canvas; Approx. 9.8 x 7.8 in (25 x 20 cm).