10 Chancery Lane Gallery is proud to present “Frog King Kwok, The Living Legend,” an epic and explosive new solo exhibition by Hong Kong artist Frog King Kwok (a.k.a. Kwok Mang-ho, b. 1947). The exhibition “Frog King Kwok, The Living Legend” personifies the force that Frog King has embodied for 50 years as an internationally recognized and recognizable Hong Kong artist. The exhibition of new works will incorporate his many diverse and multifarious forms of art from painting, installation and sculpture and with a new performance entitled “Smoke of Change” created specifically for the exhibition.
FROG KING’S EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT
Originally trained in ink painting and calligraphy in the studio of seminal New Ink Painting master Lui Shou Kwan, Frog King was encouraged by his teacher to take flight with his energetic and performative style and break from tradition. Frog King is one of the earliest Chinese contemporary artists to explore the use of ink painting as a conceptual tool, incorporating it as both action and material into multiple-media installations, performances, happenings and assembled environments incorporating discards and everyday objects. Through his practice Frog King drifts between Chinese and Western cultures by combining chinese calligraphy with Latin writing which, he terms “sandwich font” or by bold splashes of paint used with both a performative and taoist intention. He finishes his works by embossing a multitude of red ink Chinese chops that he has created himself. Kwok Mang-ho moved to the East Village in New York in the 1980s where the Frog King persona burst forth. He says, “During the 80s in New York, the artists Keith Haring, Basquiat (samo), Warhol and others all has big identities so I decided to become Frog King”. He opened the Kwok gallery as an experimental incubator for himself and other artists and worked also making original fashions, objects and jewellry. No doubt inspiring him for his future costuming and encoutrements.
THE FROG KING GARMENTS
The Frog King Kwok full regalia is a multilayered embellished art work in itself. With his various wigs and layerings of clothes that he paints and burns, his dozens of bracelets and rings adorn his arms and hands. His imperial regalia includes his sceptre made from a toilet plunger and an ink brush, his crown which he meticulous creates to each occasion made from burnt gourds, flashing lights and ink brushes and other found objects and his royal mantle, a pair of trousers draped over his shoulders with burn holes embellishing them like the black on white of ermine as a heraldic tincture. His dress is never finished without his handmade signature Froggy Sunglasses that are paramount to his process of engaging with the audience.
THE FROG KING HAPPENINGS
Frog King Kwok is an artist of engagement. Everyone is part of his performance. This key aspect to his work is what defines the Frog King most. When the audience sees Frog King, they approach it as if they are viewing, perhaps someone somewhat mad, who is there to perform for them and then suddenly, the walls come crashing down as Frog King will transform a room of conservative business people or shy students into a Froggy-Sunglasses clad, drum beating, noisemaker-shaking crowd of people who are all giggling with glee and playing with him. He breaks all barriers to teach us all that the Froggy concept is about fun and to live by his ever-positive motto “Art is life, and Life is Frog” and that means joy. Frog Bun Lum is the term he uses to call these spontaneous happenings of engaging with people throughout his everyday. When he is not in full costume, he will always have a few Froggy Sunglasses handy to share a moment of laughter with any passerby as he takes a photograph of them. His hundreds of thousands of photos that he has taken over the years, all printed, all organized in books as a diary and archive of his life’s art practice that include photos of David Bowie, Nam June Paik and other celebraties wearing the Froggy Sunglasses.
Katie de Tilly, Director of 10 Chancery Lane Gallery says, “There is so much depth in the practice and concepts of Frog King’s art that it is futile to summarize the artist in a few sentences. His absolute devotion to create all the time, everywhere and anywhere is awe-inspiring as is his engagement with everyone. We haven’t even scratched the surface of all that Frog King is but it is certain that he is indeed a living legend.”