Chan Wai Lap (Hong Kong) was shortlisted for his work Pure Speculation – Tin Ka Ping, which forms part of a body of work portraying public swimming pools. Often created through his own experiences, Chan will count the tiles and reconstruct them on paper.
What initially drew you to swimming pools as a subject matter?
A few years ago, I felt a bit stuck in my creative process. I decided to distract myself by leaving the studio and doing something not directly related to art. So I went swimming—at least I accomplished something in the day, right? As I grew into the habit of swimming daily, I became more and more curious about the space of the swimming pool itself.
It is like a public gathering space. I go almost as an escape from reality. Why are the others here? Do they have different agendas? Swimming pools have become a lens for me to observe and understand social dynamics. When I traveled or during my residencies in Europe and the U.S., I would also explore the swimming pools there. It provided me with an open yet intimate access to the local cultural context and urban psyche.
How do you go about counting the meticulous grids that appear throughout your body of work?
The space of swimming pools gave me new inspirations, and I started to consider ways to translate it into artworks. The most straightforward method would be to document the swimming pools by counting the mosaic surfaces tile by tile. After noting down the number of grids in the swimming pool, I returned to the studio and reconstructed the space on paper with colored pencils.
In my opinion, swimming is a sport of repetitive muscle movements, and my mode of drawing in the studio—repeatedly and laboriously filling colors in the grid—resonates with it. When drawing, my body is static, but my mind can be free and active. Like swimming, drawing is almost like a ritual, a chance for meditation and self-reflection.