From this moment on

Wars, social unrest, pandemics, restricted activities. We feel the disorder and instability of the world and feel insecure every day when we are busy receiving social news.

Although it may sound like a feeble cliche to say “time will tell,” time is indeed a trusted and orderly existence that gives people hope as long as the sun rises every day and a new day dawns.

We need to appreciate the passage of time as it might be the best way to soothe the emotions amid this anxiety. This is what artist Jessica Zoob wants to convey by showing her new works at 10 Chancery Lane Gallery.

Opening amid Hong Kong’s rainy season, the show This Moment, running until August 15, showcases Zoob’s abstract paintings that stir our consciousness toward the beauty and fragility of our surroundings.

Looking at Zoob’s frames is like looking out the window at the pouring rain – it offers a peaceful atmosphere of calm contemplation and an opportunity to calm down easily.

“I hope to encourage people to stop and gaze,” Zoob said, while gazing at one of the largest works displayed, Midnight Garden.

Although it is an abstract work, the garden is clearly visible. The mottled Prussian surface of the lake reflects the moonlight and meets the darker jungle in the distance. Sporadic flowers and plants grow on the ground while some are also seen on the water’s surface, adding a touch of liveliness to the serene scene.

Though the sky is dappled white and gray, there’s no doubt that it is what one can imagine seeing on a midnight outing. This may be because when you take a longer look at the painting, you can observe some of the more imaginative and dreamy parts, such as looming figures and fairies.

A closer look will show that the stacks of colors and the edges of their strewn blocks, thin golden lines in snatches and the washed diluted traces recall the work of Gerhard Richter’s abstract paintings and the poetic quality of Claude Monet’s later works. The texture is achieved with knives, needles, cloth, thinner and the palm and fingers.

But rather than derivative, Zoob’s paintings are rich in imagination with an innate energy and beauty all of their own.

This may be because every piece took her years to finish. Her constantly changing view of the world was expressed in every stroke she painted.

Midnight Garden took her 12 years. “During these years, my children told me from time to time that this painting is good enough to be finished, but I didn’t think so. I always wanted to do something better,” Zoob said.

“I never wanted to sell this work because it was my favorite, but when I got the opportunity to collaborate with charities, I decided it was time to let it go.” The gallery co-hosted an event with Plastic Oceans, Oceanic Global and Oceans Asia for World Ocean Day and Zoob donated two paintings.

The HK$260,000 proceeds from the sale of Precious Blue went to Oceanic Global. Plastic Ocean is still waiting for the buyer. All proceeds will go to Oceans Asia.

“The exhibition is not simply about beauty or places to escape into anymore; it’s about deeply held, passionate beliefs in what really matters,” Zoob said.

She also highlighted Redemption, a warm-tone painting, to explain her artistic language. “People nowadays are too busy and anxious, so I want them to appreciate time as well as enjoy what we have instead of yearning for what we don’t.”

In a metaphor for her way of life, she keeps spending years on stacking colors and making textures on the previous layers instead of taking away what she has painted.

Now living in Hong Kong, Zoob is hugely inspired by the place. Even an odd stone in a temple can bloom into a painting in her mind – as seen in The Look of Love triptych.

The exhibition, in her words, responds to this pivotal time. It invites visitors to take their own moments to heal and be inspired.

(This article was published at The Standard on July 16, 2021: Weekend Glitz: From this moment on )

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