Tiles of various shades of blue skirt a shimmering reflective centre in Hong Kong artist Chan Wai Lap’s wall-sized installation, which portrays a swimming pool from above. Long a motif of the artist, swimming pools intrigue the artist with their decorative patterns; these public facilities also allow the public indulge in the practice of swimming. At once a reinvigorating splash in the sun outdoors, and an excellent workout outdoors or in, for the artist, swimming also allows for a meditative moment for the self, an interlude for self-care and self-contemplation. Swimming pools are thus a rewarding source of aesthetic exploration.
The English title of the work, I Will Always Be On Your Side, indicates the welcoming nature of a swimming pool where the Chinese title, literally means “You Are On the Far Side”, refers to the anonymous onlookers one may share this work with while standing in front of it. By depicting a swimming pool with a partially reflective wall, I Will Always Be On Your Side invites visitors to look not just at the idea of the "swimming pool", however, but also come face to face with oneself with unflinching eyes. On a broader level, the work contemplates the contemporary condition of the self. In an era permeated with selfies and self-aware imagery, it is more important than ever to interrogate and reconsider the true meaning and value of the self.
Part of 55 Squared at Tai Kwun, I Will Always Be On Your Side was created during Chan Wai Lap's Artists’ Studio Programme in Tai Kwun and commissioned by Tai Kwun Contemporary. The work was hand-painted on site over 10 days by the artist together with Ngai Wing Lam, Wong Chi Chuen, and Yau Kwok Keung.