Leon Chew leaves his mark in rooms by placing foil art to add a little curiosity to the staff’s day
Hotel rooms are unique space; they are both a place where people are told to make themselves at home and yet is inhabited by hundreds, even thousands for years on end. While each is different, most hotel rooms bear a striking resemblance to one another: the plush bed, the writing desk, small dining set and mini-fridge with overpriced fare. British artist Leon Chew wanted to bring a bit of art to these rooms with two basic supplies — tape and tin foil.
Chew pulled inspiration from both Martin Kippenberger’s Hotel Drawings, which uses hotel stationary, as well as a previous project of his, as he tells AnOther:
I made a series of photographs of television reflections in hotel room windows years ago and this project follows on from that work. The first image was made in a Japanese business hotel in Los Angeles. I decided to build the structure up in the corner where the junctions of the architecture meet, window-wall-ceiling-curtain. I soon realised that working with these easy to find materials – tape and tinfoil – I could make these works wherever I happen to be in the world.
These pop-up pieces of art are meant to blend in while also being eye-catching, enough to make viewers take a second look at the piece. He often uses geometric shapes in his art, adding, as he puts it, “lighting and sculptural gesture to add an abstract narrative to what is already there.”
The artist didn’t stay local for this series, and has prepared pieces in several hotel rooms in different continents. While in his interview with AnOther he couldn’t decide what his favorite hotel was (a tie between Harmony Motel in 29 Palms and a Korean motel the Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul, South Korea), he did mention his favorite city to be a tourist in was Tokyo.
Despite all of the art he’s left behind in different rooms, he has yet to receive a complaint from any of the hotels yet. It may be because he always leaves a tip for the cleaning room.