WORK 1998

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Double Boiler

"The "Double Boiler" was completed in 1999 shortly before my return to Hong Kong. In contrasting tones, backgrounds, and gestures, the eleven paintings of the series express feelings of loneliness, boredom, stress, and joy: a metaphor for my experience as an immigrant in a foreign land." – Paulina Wong

Chinese-styled double boilers have a round, chubby appearance that both metaphorically and symbolically, represents the traditional Chinese culture, which prefers harmony to conflicts, and favours an all-round person instead of a partially handicapped genius. Being amazingly resilient even under high temperature and pressure, the double boiler has always been an indispensable utensil in the traditional Chinese kitchen. It performs magic on cooking soups and stews by facilitating a slow heating process, thus allowing the ingredients to absorb each other's flavours better..

A double boiler put in a large pot of hot water resembles a Chinese immigrant being simmered in the cultural melting pot of a country with a multicultural background. Though it gradually takes up the heat of the environment, the core part remains substantially unchanged. Long stewing hours only accentuate the subtle characteristics of each ingredient, so that they eventually melt into a richer combination of colours, aroma, and flavours.

「一九九七年,回港前夕,我完成燉盅系列,共十一幅油畫。透過各種不同的色調、背景及型態,表達寂寞、煩悶、衝突、喜樂…亦好作為我移民異地的隱喻。」 – 吳惠群述

中式燉盅那圓潤豐厚的外型設計十足表現出中國傳統文化的底蘊:著重和諧,不尚衝突;喜人樸實而圓融練達,甚於敏銳卻不懂處世。由於燉盅能抵受高溫高壓,所以一直是中國傳統廚房內不可或缺的烹飪器皿。用文火慢慢地煮燉盅內的老火湯或各種燜菜燉品,時間越久味越鮮。

當燉盅放進一鍋熱水裡,好比一位中國人移民到外國去。在異國的文化大熔爐裡煨著,理應會被慢慢同化、融合的。然而慢熱的中國人總有點像燉盅,在不斷升溫、加壓的環境裡,本質仍維持不變。長時間的細煨慢燉只會令每一個細節的味道都得到昇「華」,最後融在一口滿載色、香、味的燉盅中。