Past Continuous Tense

curated by Mia Yinxing Liu

Dec 16, 2022 on going / Asian Art Museum, San Francisco / Lee Gallery

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Courtesy of Artist

Exclusively at the Asian Art Museum, Past Continuous Tense (2011) gives audiences a chance to connect important works from historical masters, many in the museum’s collection, with an exploration of contemporary themes of global significance.

After years of research at the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s New Asia College library, Lam (Chinese, b. 1978) carefully rendered ink paintings from great masters, including colophons (artists’ inscriptions or collectors’ stamps) onto 52 planks of simple plywood spanning 52.5 feet. Instead of ink and brush, however, he employed an extraordinary technique: blowtorch and charcoal to score the intricate drawings into the wood, overlain with ashes to recreate the gauzy effect of paint on silk.

Guest curated by Mia Yinxing Liu, Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History at Johns Hopkins University, Past Continuous Tense introduces audiences to layers of encounter and transmission: the natural world was first mediated through past masters of ink painting, then re-mediated by a learned few into the art books and painting manuals that Lam drew from for this work.

Lam’s montage of artist historical references, rendered at a scale both intimate and lifelike, produces an arresting interactive experience with both history and nature, at once contemplative and problematic. The artist’s forest, created from canonical imagery of the past, invites reflection on our relationship to nature, our current era of ecological devastation, and the relationship between the virtual and the real. The use of fire on wood is a keen reference to the fragility of both our cherished artworks and lived natural environment.

Drawing its title from English grammar, Past Continuous Tense conveys an ongoing action that already took place, but perhaps one that continues to impact our present. “Lam’s work is both prophetic and nostalgic,” says Abby Chen, Head of Contemporary Art at the Asian Art Museum. “Past Continuous Tense reckons with issues of change in the name of a ‘progress’ whose benefits often raise more questions than they answer.”

Download exhibition brochure (PDF)

Organizers & Sponsors

Past Continuous Tense is organized by the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. Sustained support generously provided by the Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang Endowment Fund for Exhibitions and the Kao/Williams Contemporary Art Exhibitions Fund.
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Curated by Ping Foong

JUL 22 2022 – ONGOING / SEATTLE ASIAN ART MUSEUM / SOUTH GALLERYArtist: Ai Weiwei, Chen Shaoxiong, Lam Tung Pang, Yang Yongliang, Zhang Huan

  •  The Great Escape by Lam Tung Pang, courtesy of Seattle Asian Museum of Art

    The Great Escape by Lam Tung Pang, courtesy of Seattle Asian Museum of Art

  •  The Great Escape by Lam Tung Pang, courtesy of Seattle Asian Museum of Art

    The Great Escape by Lam Tung Pang, courtesy of Seattle Asian Museum of Art

  •  Echo (details) by Lam Tung Pang, courtesy of Seattle Asian Museum of Art

    Echo (details) by Lam Tung Pang, courtesy of Seattle Asian Museum of Art

  •  Echo by Lam Tung Pang, courtesy of Seattle Asian Museum of Art

    Echo by Lam Tung Pang, courtesy of Seattle Asian Museum of Art

  •  When the time comes by Lam Tung Pang, courtesy of Seattle Asian Museum of Art

    When the time comes by Lam Tung Pang, courtesy of Seattle Asian Museum of Art

Curated by Ping Foong

When the pandemic broke out, Lam Tung Pang, like many of us, spent most of his time trapped at home. Here, surrounded by plywood landscape imagery and video projected on the walls of a six-sided “lantern,” a scale-model home suggests a mountain retreat. This work evokes both cultural and personal notions of escape: Chinese eremitic traditions of retreat into transcendent nature, the escapism of adults reading children’s books, Lam himself fidgeting as a child in movie theaters wanting to get outside. Lam made these connections as he learned about Harry Houdini, master of daring escapes, from writings by avant-garde Japanese poet and filmmaker Shūji Terayama (1935–1983) on magic and illusion.
This kinetic installation relays constantly shifting perspectives. The viewer can choose multiple vantage points, including places where light escapes from the lantern and makes our own shadow a part of the scene. Lam says this work allows one “to express dissatisfaction with some existing constraint. It helps you make a space to express that feeling in your own fashion, and to break through.”

Support provided by Galerie du Monde Ltd.

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Musuem Collection Exhibition
Memento: Jayashree Chakravarty and Lam Tung Pang /2021-2022 / Hambrecht Contemporary Gallery, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, U.S.A.
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The immersive video installation A day of two Suns (2019) by Hong Kong–based artist Lam Tung Pang (b. 1978) captures a changing Hong Kong. On both sides of a suspended diaphanous paper screen, unsynchronized images from four projectors combine with shadows of museum visitors, inviting us into an emotional landscape. “This work is prophetic and nostalgic,” notes Head of Contemporary Art Abby Chen about the newly acquired work. “It documents a city, and a system, in the process of fading and awakening.”

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Interview by of Asian Art Museum

Lam Tung Pang on A day of two Suns (2019) (6:05 min.), interview by of Asian Art Museum
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Solo Exhibition
《半步屋》Half-step House by Lam Tung Pang / 22 Jul – 31 Oct, 2021/

Half-step House by Lam Tung Pang is commission work for Hong Kong House at Echigo -Tsumari Art Triennale 2021

Presenter : Leisure and Cultural Services Department
Organiser : Art Promotion Office
Collaborators: Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale Executive Committee and The University of Hong Kong
Activity Collaborators: Haw Par Music Foundation and The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups Jockey Club Media 21
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Photo by Kioku Keizo

Unable to visit the Hong Kong House in-person, the artist relies on literary works, personal interviews, online information and other secondary sources to know more about Tsunan town, where the House is located. To underline the significance of imagination, Lam took a bold step to give the space a facelift with two different approaches. One half of the House now features text, music, graphics, moving images and other elements, arranged to conjure up an indoor landscape. In contrast, the neighbouring half is left completely empty—an intentional void with which Lam actively invites viewer’s imagination to complete the full picture.

In Lam’s opinion, the most captivating thing about having cultural exchange is the uncanniness arising from having a resonance which is not immediately clear to understand. It is only through imagination and active searching that we find what we look for.

「我們帶著半個認識的文化,去接觸另一半你不太熟悉的文化,文化交流最有趣之處,是這種有共鳴但不完全明白,靠着想象或找尋去發現。」 - 林東鵬,2021 “It’s about the convergence of the two ‘halves’. You come into contact with an unfamiliar culture and reflect on your own culture……this is the most interesting thing about having cultural exchange: you feel some sort of resonance, but you don’t fully understand what it is. It only gets clearer with your imagination and active searching.”
Half-step House, Lam Tung Pang, Hong Kong, 2021
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Group Exhibition
So long, thanks again for the fish / 8 Jun – 29 Aug, 2021/ Levyhalli, Suomenlinna B5, FI-00190 Helsinki, Finland
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Artists: Luke Ching Chin Wai, Christopher K. Ho, Lam Tung Pang, Cédric Maridet, Angela Su

So long, thanks again for the fish is the first group exhibition of Hong Kong artists in Finland and coincides with the inaugural event of the Helsinki Biennale. The show features new commissions by Luke Ching Chin wai, Christopher K. Ho, Lam Tung Pang, Cédric Maridet, and Angela Su. The title of the exhibition refers to the sci-fi classic of Hitchhiker’s Guide and takes from this series the absurdity of thinking of endings and beginnings as conclusive moments in cycles of change. In these imperfect times, where are the beginnings and endings?
In recent years, Hong Kong faced many social and political upheavals and changes. We also continue to face a global pandemic that impacts our health, our livelihoods, our borders and sense of community. But Hong Kong is not alone in experiencing an uncertain future. This exhibition, knowing that we are all somehow entangled, ask: Instead of utopian futures, should we be looking at the imperfect to recalibrate the stuff of survival? The selected five artists explore the theme of the necessity of being imperfect as a mode of survival and turn to their personal reflections on defiance, renewal and hope as the touchstones of their works. 
This show also takes as inspiration Anna Tsing’s The Mushroom at the End of the World and her proposal of collaborative survival. Tsing uses contaminations as encounters that unknowingly seep into and alter structures that can lead to diversity, and collaboration as a way of working across differences. The artworks see artists collaborating with singers, builders, writers, illustrators and code poets. Collectively, these artists, representing Hong Kong, seek unexpected connections and diversity by disrupting the historical site of Levyhalli on Suomenlinna, a UNESCO site with its rich history as a fortress island that has witnessed a long history of imperfect encounters.  

Curator: Yeewan Koon
Exhibition design: COLLECTIVE
Presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
Co-organised by the Art Promotion Office and HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme
Supported by the Governing Body of Suomenlinna and the City of Helsinki

So long, thanks again for the fish is part of Helsinki Biennial Inspired programme. Helsinki Biennial is an international art event that will bring outstanding contemporary art to maritime Helsinki. The first Helsinki Biennial will be held in the unique surroundings of Vallisaari Island from June 6 to September 26, 2021.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 11–6pm. 

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Group Exhibition
INK CITY /23 Apr - 01 Aug, 2021 / JC Contemporary, Tai Kwun, Hong Kong
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Lam Tung Pang
Image-coated on the day of 28MAY, 2020 #1-#3

Marker (permanent ink) drawings on transparent film, light box
270×110 cm each

Artists: Luis Chan, Chen Shaoxiong, Chu Hing-Wah, Sherry Fung Hoi Shan, Frog King Kwok, Lam Tung Pang, Joey Leung Ka Yin, Li Jin, Wilson Shieh, Sun Xun, Frank Tang Kai Yiu, Tao Aimin, Walasse Ting, Tsang Tsou-Choi (King of Kowloon), Howie Tsui, Evelyn Taocheng Wang, Wei Dong, Yang Jiechang, Zhang Yanzi

Curators: Katherine Don, Tobias Berger
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Group Exhibition
After Hope: Videos of Resistance /From 1 Mar 2021 / Lee Gallery, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco
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Hope is an emotion that drives us to imagine, represent, and create new worlds. Designed as a set of three interrelated programs — an in-gallery presentation of more than 50 short videos from across Asia and the Asian diaspora (Videos of Resistance); a series of workshops, roundtable discussions, and convenings (International Working Group); and an online platform ( — After Hope explores the role of hope in contemporary art and activism. This is the first in a series of programs produced in collaboration with outside curators and institutions that aims to foster artistic pollination across communities, practices, and perspectives. After Hope is co-organized with Padma D. Maitland, assistant professor of architectural history and theory at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

Learn more about the artists and videos featured in After Hope:
Videos of Resistance.
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Past Group Exhibition

Classics Remix: The Hong Kong Viewpoint / till 2020.06.14 / Hong Kong Museum of Art
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Image-coated / Video installation: projection on / window and wall, digital prints on wall, sound / Size variable
鍍影 / 錄像裝置: 牆上及玻璃窗上錄像投影、數碼打印、聲音 / 尺寸不定


《鍍影》,是一齣讓觀眾徘徊於實景與投影兩段時空的影像裝置創作。受香港藝術館三樓,面向維多利亞港的玻璃窗啟發,並以館藏(AH1964.0133) 無名畫家筆下十九世紀的維港及香港島作為創作藍本的錄像,從室內向窗戶投影,並慢慢與並置於敞大玻璃窗的室外景觀,構成兩座小島遙遙相對的景緻與對話。

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Group Exhibition
【文學季 2019 自宅字築:文學 × 視藝展覽】/ 8 月 2 至 24 日 / 香港藝術中心包氏畫廊五樓(灣仔港灣道 2 號) / 策展人:鄧小樺(文學)丶石俊言(視藝)
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誰 將心困成一個迷宮 我 竭力呼叫 白髮 變 黑
林東鵬 // 7. 2019,香港
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《天工開物  ·  宇宅之變》,《戀物史》三部曲之一炭筆,塑膠彩,現成物,圖像打印及書本2019

視覺藝術家林東鵬潛入《天工開物 · 栩栩如真》的文字工場,偷取作家董啟章在書桌上自言自語,審視V城的創作經驗,從而鋪陳一片由內向外,層層疊疊的風景。作品從書桌一角,擴展至家居平面圖,在宇宅來回之間,運用物件拼湊一片天地幻象,回應作家以「宀」部寫出 V城哭笑不得的時代特徵。

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Solo Exhibition:

“Saan Dung Gei” by Lam Tung Pang / 26 March – 11 May 2019 / Blindspot Gallery
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Venue: Blindspot Gallery: 15/F, Po Chai Industrial Building, 28 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong
地點:刺點畫廊(香港黃竹坑道 28 號保濟工業大廈 15 )
Recent reviews
Art in Public
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Spanning the 4m x 23m wall of The Park, Lam Tung Pang and COLLECTIVE's Wavy Weaving Wall takes inspiration from Hong Kong’s textile industrial history and the myriad stories of different individuals’ personal memories of a special piece of fabric in their lives. Mimicking fabric movements, the Wavy Weaving Wall, welcomes the visitors to listen to these recorded personal stories and be part of the continuous shaping of the artwork through regular interactive hands-on workshops.
Location: The Mills, 45 Pak Tin Par Street, Tsuen Wan, N.T., Hong Kong