Born and raised in Ontario, Canada, Hong Kong-based artist Peter Yuill has been making waves on the local scene this year with his solo exhibition Alignment at newly opened Gallery HZ on Hollywood Road. Following a star-studded attendance at his previews in Soho House Hong Kong, which saw politician John Tsang, singer/actress Joyce Cheng and Moiselle heiress Tiffany Chan among the crowd, art aficionados and artists alike concede that this will be a transformative year for him.
The art that Yuill produces is clean, minimal, Zen, extremely detailed and somewhat intimidating. Highly analytical and technical in appearance, his circular paradigm has become a trademark that’s inspired by the interconnectedness of the universe and the inevitable limitations of humans in their understanding of all the secrets of nature. In his show, Yuill turns the dichotomous relationship between the infinite and the limited into a powerful narrative of liberation through which he’s indeed achieved the alignment between his artistic and spiritual development.
Spirituality is a consistent theme in his exhibition, which is no surprise given his own strong spirituality and interest in the topic. Indeed, as he’s married to feng shui designer Thierry Chow, daughter of the famed feng shui master Chow Hon Ming, you could say that the theme dominates his life. In 2017, Yuill released an acclaimed series of works with static line, circular form and monochromatic shapes drawn and arranged by hands. The series represented his journey in finding the synthesis between two seemingly paradoxical realms – his logical mind and inner self.
Since then, he continues this journey by further reducing his pictorial vocabulary to a single shape – a circle – and finds his definitive language of expression that transcends all the dichotomies of the world and immerses viewers in the intricate yet harmonious dimension of the whole. According to Yuill, the circular iconography in his work “came from a long process of deconstruction that I undertook several years ago trying to get to the core essence of myself and my creative vision. I spent a long time being unhappy with the work I was making and really wanted to break everything down and discover what I was really all about. I continued to distil my work down more and more and more until I was eventually left with just a circle, and from there I began building back up again. To me the circle represents the marriage of mathematical and spiritual perfection.”
Yuill says this body of work has been incubating since last autumn, with hundreds of different sketches and concept drawings laid out to create the pieces he wanted to make. It wasn’t until December of last year that he began kicking it into high gear, which is highly impressive given that he then created the 14 original works and three limited-edition prints in a span of just three months. Whereas his previous works “were much more chaotic and aggressive, the pieces in Alignment are much more balanced and centred, reflecting that same feeling within me”, he says. Yuill says he always knew he’d be an artist in one form or another. “I’ve always been a fiercely independent and self-reliant person, and walk my own path. I never really fitted into normal society even from a very early age, and always knew that my own destiny was something that would cut against the grain. For a long time it was a very isolating feeling actually, until I realised that it was okay to think so radically differently from everyone around me.”
When asked to describe Hong Kong’s art scene, Yuill says that it’s a work in progress – “Hong Kong is a very tough place to be an artist. There’s very little resources, very little establishment support and the rents are obscenely expensive. The city is run from a commerce mindset, not from a quality-of-life or appreciation-of-beauty mindset. This makes anyone doing anything that isn’t commerce-related always struggling and having to fight an uphill battle. “That being said, it’s not all bad either. As a younger city on the up and up, it can be easier to network and meet the kind of people that can help you develop, because everyone’s trying to do something, everyone’s a hustler. It also makes the creative community small, tight-knit and like a family. We’re all in this together and people help each other a lot.”
Yuill’s currently working with his good friend and fellow artist Simon Birch on his large project The 14th Factory, which also features several other Hong Kong, Chinese and international artists. Launched previously in Los Angeles, it’s now in the process of being moved to London – global circumstances permitting, of course.
Alignment is on view until May 9th at Gallery HZ.