Published in conjunction with Hor Kwok Kin’s first solo exhibition at artcommune gallery, Through the Streets and the Darkroom: Photographic Work by Hor Kwok Kin, this 85-page commemorative monograph features over 60 plates of black-and-white photographic prints that were captured and developed using darkroom techniques between the 1960s and 1980s. The publication also includes a statement by the artist; a foreword by Goh Kim Hui (Hon FPSS, Hon EFIAP), President of the Photographic Society of Singapore; a message from Magnus Renfrew; and an essay by researcher/writer Kong Yen Lin titled, Everything Burns if the Flame is Hot Enough: The Photographic Life of Hor Kwok Kin.

Hor Kwok Kin’s works could be classified alongside other modernist photographers such as his friend and mentor, Cultural Medallion recipient Yip Cheong Fun. Heavily influenced by humanist photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson’s pioneering street photography, Hor captured the scenes of everyday Singapore with a strikingly modernist composition. More than mere aesthetic expressions, his pictures serve as important archives of Singapore in the 1960s-70s as well. His identity as a working-class photographer proved to be a leverage that allowed him to effectively record moments that are intensely empathetic to the subject, such as a restaurant worker and hor fun manufacturer, setting him apart from many of his contemporaries.

About Hor Kwok Kin

Hor Kwok Kin FRPS, APSS (1939, Ipoh – ) arrived in Singapore in 1958. A chef by occupation, he first worked at Loong Yick Kee Restaurant in Bugis before venturing out in the 1980s to open his own cze char stall. Through an advertisement in the phonebook, he discovered and eventually purchased his first camera – a Leica M3 – after saving five months’ worth of salary. A picture of Marina Bay in that same year marked the beginning of his decades-long career as a photographer.

Hor persisted in his pursuit of photography, albeit curtailed by his hectic work schedule, spending almost every waking hour on his off days and during rest hours with his camera in hand. Notwithstanding that he was unable to afford the equipment and services the wealthier photographers had access to, Hor thought out of the box and converted the toilet of the restaurant into a darkroom to facilitate his film processing using an original chemical concoction in replacement of the conventional developing agent.

Hor’s oeuvre stands as a testament to his dedication to art. In recognition of this, he was awarded the Associate Membership of both The Royal Photography Society (United Kingdom) and the Photographic Society of Singapore in 1986. He was further promoted to the esteemed position of Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in 1992.

About artcommune gallery
artcommune gallery was founded in 2009 by Ho Sou Ping, with a particular focus on Singapore Modern art. The gallery represents the finest and most important artists in the Singapore visual art canon, from revered pioneer masters Cheong Soo Pieng and Chen Wen Hsi, to current leading painters of varying fortes including Lim Tze Peng, Ong Kim Seng, Tan Choh Tee, Tong Chin Sye and Wong Keen.

artcommune gallery is a trusted centre for art education, acquisition and investment consultancy for a large, growing base of local and foreign art collectors. Over the years, the gallery has organised several high-profile academic exhibitions with a mission to promote a vibrant artistic landscape in Singapore and foster strong public awareness for local artists and art history.

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AUTHORKong Yen Lin

ARTIST Hor Kwok Kin
PUBLISHER artcommune gallery
YEAR 2020
DETAILS 26 x 23 cm, 85pp 
LANGUAGE English and Mandarin

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