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Daphné Mandel: Hong Kong Time Rift

30 April 2022 - 28 May 2022



Gallery EXIT is pleased to present Hong Kong Time Rift, the first solo exhibition of Daphné Mandel at the gallery. The exhibition will showcase the artist’s assembled imagery reflecting Hong Kong’s past and present through a series of new mixed media works on paper and videos, inspired by the artist’s recent explorations of Hong Kong’s hidden ruins and abandoned properties forgotten in the passage of time.

French but born in Lausanne, Switzerland, Daphné Mandel grew up in Paris and has been living and working in Hong Kong for many years. Mandel is trained in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning. Hong Kong Time Rift fantasises the evanescent ruins where the boundaries between present and past are blurred. It is a rift in time and space, a leap forward into the past. It is a homage to Hong Kong’s paradoxical juxtaposition of innumerous ruins and rampant urbanisation. The inability to travel out of Hong Kong for an extended period of time due to the COVID pandemic in turn enabled the artist to explore the city in depth, leading to a further discovery of the myriad nooks and crannies of the city the artist once thought she already knew.

Despite its raging urban development, Hong Kong is home to a surprising number of ruins and deserted villages found in the countryside, a testament to a disappearing culture. In the 1950s and 1960s, with the industrialisation of Hong Kong, most inhabitants of these ancestral homes migrated to the urban areas, leaving behind these enclosed spaces which are witnesses to a bygone tradition and custom. What remains has become a rich ecological reserve, emerging from the vigourous and overgrown nature that envelops it.

To the artist, this exploration of the abandoned sites in Hong Kong is the stepping into the city’s past, setting foot into landscapes that eluded time, where nature creeps and morphs into surreal, enchanted, and sometimes tormented sceneries. Imagination runs wild as the artist endeavours to reassemble the fragments reminiscent of previous lives in these places. An infinite source of inspiration, these explorations are also a way for the artist to document and preserve some of the city’s vanishing heritage.

‘Chimerical Villages’, a series of mixed media works that transcends the secluded sites and exacerbates the improbability of the landscapes, transposes contemporary Hong Kong into visionary illusions. Another series, ‘Cabinet of Memories’, made up of mixed media works on paper and video works, features a collection of eclectic and esoteric objects and artefacts found by the artist in the abandoned sites in Hong Kong during her field research. These contemporary cabinets of curiosities are a testimony to past traditions and ways of life in Hong Kong over the past 50 to 100 years, encompassing the stories and histories of such particular sites as schools, tenement buildings, shophouses, residences and industrial structures.

Part of the French May Arts Festival 2022.


Daphné MANDEL (b. 1993, Lausanne, Switzerland), she completed her diploma of architecture, and urban planning in Versailles in 2000. Daphné credits her Dutch grandmother, a respected textile artist, Wilhelmina Fruytier, with instilling in her a deep appreciation of art and painting. Her works explore old Hong Kong’s architecture while introducing imaginary and whimsical elements as a way to exploit the incredible urban paradoxes of this city in constant metamorphosis.

Currently, Daphné is doing field research on Hong Kong's abandoned sites. Her explorations include locating and accessing these deserted places including villages, schools, theatres and cinemas, private villas and mansions. Her works has been included in solo and group exhibitions in various art institution, including “Hong Kong Time Rift” (Gallery EXIT, Hong Kong, 2022), “Hong Kong Vanitas” (Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences, Hong Kong, 2017) and “Small is Beautiful XXXIX” (Flowers Gallery, London, 2021).

She and her partner were awarded "Best Young Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture Professionals" by the French Ministry of Culture in 2006. Daphné co-founded the Paris based landscape architecture and urban planning firm Gilot&Mandel Paysage. The artist currently lives and works in Hong Kong.

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