NEWPORT MARKET ART: Eerie portraits question childhood innocence

South Wales Argus: (3009866) (3009866)

In this week's glimpse into Newport's Upmarket Gallery, Steven Jones meets Marion Cheung.

Upon first glance, the work of Marion Cheung is firmly steeped in traditional portraiture. Closer inspection, however, reveals her work is invested with darker, more thought-provoking elements that critique our everyday engagement with technology.

Ms Cheung, who studied fine art at London’s Central St. Martins, said:“My current work is concerned with the way technology is impacting on the way we choose to engage with the world and communicate with one another."

Ms Cheung’s beautifully rendered portraits of her own children are marked by the austere, blue light of computer screens, tablets and gaming consoles, offering an eerie meditation questioning notions of childhood, innocence and connection.

“My work questions how children are connected to technology rather that with one another. The portraits have a ghostly air about them, a melancholia which asks more about their activities rather than displaying any specific personal characteristics. I wanted to depict their immersion in a virtual world,” said Ms Cheung.

The work is closely cropped, accentuating a feeling of isolation and disengagement from the subject’s immediate surroundings. A playful irony is evident in her use of painterly techniques akin to those of Titian or Rubens. Of this, she said:“I wanted to capture new technology using old masters’ techniques. The approach may be similar but my work makes a departure because the nature of the light is different. Light is a crucial element in executing these ideas.”

In addition to her personal practice, Ms Cheung’s work is also in demand through private commissions. She has helped in managing the Artopsy group for a number of years and recently orchestrated the Upmarket Galleries’ first exhibition. See her work at or visit her in person at the Upmarket Galleries.


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