Luise Fong


NameLuise Fong (she/her)
Country of BirthMalaysia
Place of ResidenceTāmaki Makaurau Auckland
EthnicitiesMalaysian Chinese, Pākehā
Dealer GalleryBergman Gallery
ArtformVisual arts
Decades Active1990s, 2000s, 2010s, 2020s


Luise Fong is a Malaysian-born New Zealand artist known for her abstract yet gestural paintings in which a tension between opposites is often at play.

Moving to Aotearoa with her family as a child, Fong initially studied textile design at Wellington Polytechnic in 1983. After graduating from Elam School of Fine Arts in 1989, she attained early success, with her work being included in important international exhibitions: Cultural Safety: Contemporary Art from New Zealand at the Frankfurter Kunstverein, Germany (1995) and Fusion: Hong Kong/Auckland artist exchange (1996). Alongside Yuk King Tan, Simon Kaan, Denise Kum and Haruhiko Sameshima, Fong was part of a small group of Aotearoa Asian artists who came to prominence during the 1990s.

Fong’s work has been characterised as simultaneously representing the micro- and macrocosm through contrasting elements of light/dark or translucent/solid. Organic forms and human traces (fingerprints, dribbles, smears) often appear in her work with surface textures showing the trace of physical processes. In earlier work, the female body, albeit in an abstracted, psychological form, was a frequent subject. Holes, circles and ellipses are still a recurring motif, and she has cited Judy Chicago’s use of ‘central core’ (vaginal) imagery as an influence.

Fong has held major solo exhibitions, including More Human (1995) presenting work resulting from the artist residency she was awarded at Govett-Brewster Gallery, and Universe (1999) at the Robert McDougall Art Gallery (now Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū). She has described the starting point for her work as “generally intuitive responses to the world, to my state of mind, and to cultural aspects around me.

Fong’s work in Elemental (2004) at Starkwhite Gallery in Tāmaki Makaurau, made use of domestic objects such as ladders, drawers and beads, in contrast with her earlier more abstracted symbolism. Entry to the exhibition was through a completely red, tunnel-like passage, which Fong described in Art News, Winter 2004, as “a metaphor for the dualistic or binary code we have in life - from the outside to the interior''.

In recent paintings, alongside recurring abstract forms (holes, radiating or drop-like shapes), motifs from the natural world are layered on the surface. Laser cut elements such as fronds and snippets of symmetrical grille-like patterning can be seen in works such as Nova 8 (2016–2020) and Nexus X (2019). Fong’s series of paintings in the group exhibition A Place to Call Home (2023) at Bergman Gallery, present a black background layered with strokes of gold and silver leaf revealed through circular holes in a translucent, blue surface.

In 1994 Fong was the artist-in-residence at the Victorian College of the Arts at the University of Melbourne and the joint winner (with Bill Hammond) of the Visa Gold Art Award. In 1995 she was artist-in-residence at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and was the Visiting Artist at the University of Canterbury in 1999. Moving to Melbourne in 1995, Fong returned to Tāmaki Makaurau in 2001 when she was appointed as lecturer at Elam School of Fine Arts. She remained there until 2005. She was a recipient of the Parehuia McCahon House Artists’ Residency in 2008. She is currently represented by Bergman Gallery.


Key works / presentations

2022 — A Place to call Home, Bergman Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau

2019 — Review, North Art Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau

2017 — Interplay, Antoinette Godkin Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau

2009 — How to Talk Tree, Lopdell House Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau

2004 — Elemental, Starkwhite, Tāmaki Makaurau

2002 — Turbo, Jonathan Smart Gallery, Ōtautahi

1999 — Universe, McDougall Contemporary Art Annexe, Ōtautahi

1999 — Transit, Robert Lindsay Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

1998 — Sonar, John Batten Gallery, Hong Kong

1995 — More Human, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth; Fisher Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau

1995 — Cultural Safety: Contemporary Art from New Zealand, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Germany

1993 — Chen, Claybrook Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau

1992 — Speak (window installation), Auckland City Art Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau

1989 — Past Presence, Fish Shop Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau

Key awards

2008 — Parehuia McCahon House Artists’ Residency

1999 — University of Canterbury: visiting artist

1995 — Govett-Brewster Art Gallery: artist-in-residence

1994 — Visa Gold Art Award: joint winner, with Bill Hammond

1994 — Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne: artist-in-residence

Related entries

Last updated: 2 March 2024 Suggest an Edit


Magazine article with illustrations.

Virginia Were, 'Happy joyful home', Art News, Winter 2004

[pdf ↓]

Exhibition flyer for Smoke, Claybrook Gallery, 1992 (front)

Exhibition flyer for Smoke, Claybrook Gallery, 1992 (back)

Newspaper article with illustrations.

TJ McNamara, 'From the domestic to the truly touching', Weekend Herald, February 28, 2009

Photocopy of newspaper article including photograph of Luise Fong wth her work.

Adrienne Rewi, 'Changing direction in search of solidity', Sunday Star Times, September 14, 1997

Newspaper article with illustration.

TJ McNamara, 'Seeing beyond red', New Zealand Herald, February 18, 2004

Newspaper article with photograph of Fong with her work.

Linda Herrick, 'Fong finds a method worth banking on', Sunday Star Times, September 18, 1994

Julie Burns, 'Luise Fong' in Voicing the Visible: Feminist Art from the University of Auckland Art Collection, 2014 (excerpt)

[pdf ↓]