Approved: 16.08.2006

Pak Keung Wan


Approved: 16.08.2006
  • Location: Birmingham, West Midlands
  • Activities: Higher education, Lecturing, Practice-based research, Residencies, Workshops, Private commissions, Exhibitions programme, Photographic documentation, Studio practice
  • Categories: Animation, Drawing, Installation, Intervention, Performance
  • Tags: drawing, works on paper, found images, spolvero, time-based, durational, lived experience, labour, work, process




    Drawing, process, moving image & human form are the apparatus through which my relations with the natural world are materialised. Biological operations, geological formations, cosmological occurrences, such things are observed & explored as metaphors to articulate an inner world, intimate & private. I consider these mediating practices as transitional states & where my concerns with being, time, fusion & energy inhabit & become tangible.

    Drawing is a consistent form, a type of behaviour & through daily practice a devotional act. The line is a recurring motif. Threadlike and often tenuous, it serves as a channel connecting me to natural forces that the act of drawing intends to invoke, a way of feeling a form into being.

    CV & Education


    1992-94            M.A in Fine Art Printmaking, Royal College of Art (Henry Moore Scholarship)

    1989-92            B.A Hons Fine Art, West Surrey College of Art & Design, (1st class)

    1988-89            Art & Design Foundation course, Nene College, Northampton

    Solo Exhibitions

    2010-11            Ellipsis, G1 Gallery, Solihull Arts Complex, West Midlands. (Gallery commission/Arts Council England funded)

    2007             Morphologies, Fermynwoods Contemporary Art, Kettering, Northamptonshire. (Gallery commission/Arts Council England funded))

    2001            New Work, Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham. (Gallery commission/Arts Council England funded)

    1998            New Work, The Queen’s Gallery, British Council, New Delhi, India. (Funded by the Commonwealth Foundation, London)

    1995            Spring Blows, Y/Bont Gallery, University of Glamorgan, Wales


    Selected Group Exhibitions

    2014            From Here & There: Drawings From the UK, ElysiumOffsite, Elysium Gallery, Swansea, Wales, UK.

    2014            Small Works 3 NYC, Jeffrey Leder Gallery, New York, USA.

    2014            Drawings From Here & There, Clara Hatton Gallery, Colorado State University,     Fort Collins, CO. USA.

    2014            Site-responsive intervention for Museums at Night, Pen Museum, Birmingham.

    2012            Out-Line, Minerva Works, Birmingham. A show exploring diversity in drawing practice.

    2008            Anonyme Zeichner No.9, Kunstraum Kreuzberg, Berlin, Germany

    2005            Wunderkammer: The Artificial Kingdom, The Collection, Lincoln. A show exploring the links between art, collecting & archaeology. Curated by Edward Allington. Exhibiting artists include Hew Locke, Lindsey Seers, Marc Quinn, On Kawara, Dan Graham, Hannah Collins.

    2004            Marks in Space, The Usher Gallery, Lincoln. A show exploring the relationships between drawing & sculptural form. Exhibiting artists include Cornelia Parker, Susan Hiller, Stefan Gec, Anya Gallacio, Richard Deacon, Alison Wilding, Richard Long.

    2003            Pizza Express Prospects Drawing Prize, Loading Bay Gallery, Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London

    2002            O2xygen, White Box, Chelsea, New York, USA. A show addressing the concepts of breath & the disorders of breathing. Curator Jeff Koan Baysa MD. Exhibiting artists include Ann Hamilton, Marina Abramovic, Gordon Matta-Clark, Oscar Munoz.

    2001            Hart 2001, Quay Arts, Kingston-upon-Hull. Temporary audio-visual installation for Grosvener Mill by the Humber River. (Commissioned work)

    2000            Journey, 2-person show with sculptor Walter Bailey, Fabrica, Brighton. Performance / Sound Installation. A live transmission via mobile phone of a 6 week walk from Northampton to Fabrica. (Gallery commissioned work)

    2000            Raid, site-specific works across Derby city centre. (Commissioned work)

    1998            Six!, Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha Nebraska

    Public Lectures

    2014            Artist talk on my practice and the work created for the Pen Museum, Birmingham

    2013            Invited Speaker, Symposium, The Insistence of Drawing, University of Northampton

    2010            Solihull Arts Complex, West Midlands

    2007            Fermynwoods Contemporary Art, Northamptonshire

    2000            Artist talk, Serpentine Gallery, London

    1998            Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha Nebraska

    Artist Residencies

    2012            New Art Gallery Walsall, West Midlands

    2004            Usher Gallery, Lincoln. Commissioned to produce a drawing installation for the show Marks in Space

    1999            Artist in Residence, Northampton School for Boys, Northampton

    1998            Artist in Residence, Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha, USA.

    1997            Artist in Residence, Lowick House Print Workshop, Cumbria

    1995            Artist in Residence, University of Glamorgan, Wales

    Private Commissions

    2012            Production of drawings of planetary bodies in the solar system for a childrens colouring-in book, Immersive Theatres, Birmingham

    2008            Production of drawings of Chinese Constellations for the Planetarium, Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum. Also showing at the Williamsville Space Lab Planetarium, New York & the Stardome Observatory & Planetarium, Auckland, New Zealand

    Public Commissions

    2004-05       Routes & Journey’s. Commissioned artworks in response to the site of Grange Park, Northamptonshire. Funded by Regional Arts Lottery.

    Other Professional Activities

    2015             Approved Contributor to iStockPhoto by Getty Images. Licensing hi-res images from stock photo library

    2010             Bodies into Worlds, a sculpture & movement workshop for students on the National Diploma Fine Art course, Solihull College, Solihull Arts Complex, West Midlands

    2010             Sculpture & touch-based workshop with the Royal National institute for the Blind (RNIB), Solihull Arts Complex, West Midlands

    2008-10            Delivering Printmaking workshops to disabled children at Chadsgrove School, Worcestershire

    2006/08            Drawing the Void, delivering drawing workshops to blind/visually impaired adults for ArtSense, The Herbert Gallery, Coventry

    2002-03            Acting as a mentor under the Arts Council’s Mentoring Scheme, managed by Arts Training Central, Leicester


    2010            Research & Development Grant, Grants for the Arts, Arts Council England                                                 

    2007            Research & Development Grant, Grants for the Arts, Arts Council England

    2002            Artist’s Grant for Exhibiting Abroad, British Council

    2001            Research & Development Grant, Grants for the Arts, Arts Council England

    1997-98       The Commonwealth Foundation Fellowship Award in the Arts & Crafts. For the purpose of exchanging skills/ideas, travel & exhibiting abroad. Based at the University of Baroda, Gujarat, India. The award culminated in a solo exhibition at the British Council, New Delhi.

    1994            The John Purcell Paper Purchase Prize 

    1992-94        Henry Moore Scholarship. (Awarded by the Royal College of Art)


    2015            Featured Artist, Rise Art, London-based sellers of drawings, paintings & sculptures

    2004            Marks in Space, Locus 6, The Locus is the Thing, page 29, text concerning my work produced for exhibition, written by Alain Ayers. ISBN 0-9539238-2-7

    2001            Pak-Keung Wan, Angel Row Gallery. ISBN: 0 905634 50 0

    Lecturing Experience

    2007-15       Associate Lecturer in Fine Art, Printmaking, Site-specific Art & Commissioned Art on the Foundation & HND courses, Birmingham Metropolitan College

    2001-06       Part time lecturer in Fine Art, B.A Hons Fine Art course, Nottingham Trent University

    2004-05       Sessional Lecturer in Fine Art, B.A Hons Fine Art course, University of Derby

    1999-2003   Part time lecturer in Fine Art & Printmaking, B.A Hons Fine Art & Art Design Foundation course, University of Northampton

    1995-97       Visiting Lecturer in Fine Art, B.A Hons Fine Art, University of Northampton

    Invited Speaker on the Visiting Artist Lecture Programmes - Birmingham Institute of Art & Design, University of Lincoln, University of Derby, University of Northampton 


    10.12.2010      The Guardian Guide, Review of Ellipsis Exhibition, by Robert Clark

    17.12.2010      The Guardian Guide, Pick of the Week Exhibitions

    08.09.2007      The Guardian Guide, Review of Morphologies Exhibition, by Robert Clark

    09.2007           The Guardian Guide, top of Pick of the Week Exhibitions for 5 weeks

    12.2007           Artist Newsletter, Reviews section, by Hugh Dichmont

    27.06.2001      The Guardian Guide, review of New Work, Angel Row Gallery, Robert Clark


    'These must be some of the most sensitively skilled drawings around. With them Pak-Keung Wan is certainly an artist long overdue for international artworld acclaim. Yet it is hard to say what these drawings are actually of, never mind what they are about. But this is what makes them so charismatic. These meticulous forms, grown from thousands of creeping and crawling pencil and silverpoint lines, could be microscopic organisms, primal presences from inner or outer space or scientific verities. Their evocative range is that vast, seeming to take in some kind of numinous wholeness'.

               Review of my solo show Ellipsis, published in Exhibitions, The Guardian Guide, Saturday 4 December 2010, Robert Clark


    'I sense something special here.

    Pak-Keung Wan's graphic presences & traceries of ritualised scenarios are so exquisitely realised they tend to elicit a speechless response of bemused fascination. What can one say? It would be so much easier to elucidate at length what this art is not, simply by listing the mainstream surface concerns of the contemporary artworld. Yet, despite Wan's art being resonant with some kind of otherness, despite its almost numinous mystique & its rigorous avoidance of attitudinal theoretical frameworks, it nevertheless deals subtly & intimately with surely a central problem of worldwide culture: the relationship of the wilful forces of individual human creativity with the virtually unfathomable forces of the natural world.

    Wan's drawings might be full of seductive suggestions & evocations, yet they come about as a result of processes that couldn't be more meticulously planned & faithfully followed through. As the artist explains, 'each drawing consists of a single line yet evolves from a simple rule: that this line must return to its original point before projecting out again...' What eventually emerge from these intuitively driven yet disciplined rituals are elliptical ambiguities that defy definition in terms of figurative or abstract imagery. Neither are they figurative in being illusionistic portrayals of the observable or imaginable world, nor are they abstract in being purely self-referential aesthetic compositions. In fact Wan has clearly stated that it is never his intention to create images at all. It appears that Wan works on a drawing in order to be surprised, intrigued, even captivated by the outcome of his graphic explorations. So these things are some kind of unforeseen embodiments or realisations of the creative process, more like growths than manufactures, more presentations than representations.

    Wan's installations of combined film, photographic, sound & sculptural elements comes across similarly as the traceries of wide-eyed exploration. He breathes random words into specially crafted receptacles which become crucibles of his own liquidised breath. Splashes of such liquidised life are filmed on high speed cameras & projected within the gallery's converted water tower. Something is going on here that is utterly vital, one might even say original, to use a term that has long since been discredited in art circles by clumsy misuse. There's a shedding of the mundane facades of prosaic & utilitarian communications to reveal something else below & beyond, something so convincingly life affirming that it needs to be, by its nature, ultimately indefinable in terms of the vocabularies of such communications. This is not really minimalist work. Whilst its focus might be said to be on the most delicate of microscopic impulses, its range of amazement can also be said to be as expansive as the far reaches of telescopic vision. It is for sure a measure of Wan's creative integrity, sensitivity & skill that work of such far ranging creative ambition is always characterised by a highly individualistic charm. Despite, or maybe precisely because of, Pak-Keung Wan's self-effacing devotions, this is charismatic art like no other art around.'

                                                                                                                        Robert Clark

    Text taken from the catalogue accompanying the solo show Morphologies, Fermynwoods Contemporary Art, 13 September-28 October, 2007 


    'In addition to the drawings selected for 'Marks in Space' there is also the work being undertaken by the artist in residence, Pak Keung Wan, which allows anyone visiting the Usher Gallery to see work and meaning enfolded in present time. You can see that there is actually a time frame and practicality to the production of drawing and that it can be quite physical as well as elusive.

    Drawing doesn't necessarily happen quickly or become a framed work. Sol le Witt's wall drawings have been conceptually realised on a large scale and mostly installed by others via instruction for years, while Michael Craig Martin makes large scale linear and colour works of everyday objects through galleries and interiors in the continuum of a time based fresco. The hand marks and splashes of river Avon mud by Richard Long embody the temporal and made in-situ qualities that can coexist with drawing as can some of the work of Andy Goldsworthy.

    Artists like Wolfgang Laib and Marina Abramovic have also informed Pak Keung about his practice and he has talked of the way that he is inclined to work through relinquishing the self and being informed by the dynamics and rhythms where a 'living time' in the space of the work is experienced. In the sun and mountain drawings there is a manifested vestige of memory and of being affected by the sun or mountain as he worked. The image of the artist on a platform straddling two ladders which is like the signature to the work at the Usher Gallery emphasises the presence of a cosmology. One of the spaces of the work (another being the streets of Lincoln) could be the space between the platform and the ground, where the sifting of the material is activated and settles to inform.

    In the case of the work where Robert Rauschenberg erases a Willem de Kooning drawing, neither may be the maker of the work and in a durational sense it belongs to no-one. Pak Keung's concern for erasure is from within while at the same time the importance of instigating and taking part in the work is vital. The artist's interest in a kind of alchemy and Buddha nature in action is where disappearance and presence configure, where the drawing is made, and where it enacts its own surrounding and enveloping of the bigger picture that is made possible.'

    Text taken from the 'Marks in Space' catalogue, which accompanied the drawing show at the Usher Gallery, 2004. Written by Alain Ayers. With reference to my work Aeolian (towards a cosmology).


    'Pak-Keung Wan's Inhaled Rooms & The Vocal Life of Jars is an exhibition for all those who assume that conceptualism & minimalism are necessarily devoid of sensuous form. The artist makes art that is an immaculate embodiment of the concentrated process of the making of the art, & the effect is an elliptical enchantment. Breathed air is sealed in glass jars, which are delicately sand-blasted & installed in simple cubicles where a recording of the sound of the artist's finger running around the rims is played. All in all it offers an experience of primal wonderment.'

                                                                                                                         Robert Clark 

    A review of the solo show at Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham. The Guardian Guide, Saturday June 16, 2001