Primal Matter is an artist book created on the occasion of Leelee Chan's first solo exhibition Core Sample. An organic collaboration between Leelee and Eunice Tsang, both based in Hong Kong, this book is like a dictionary of Leelee's artworks, a kind of assistant, which one can use to read her works. Her assemblage sculptures and installations are comprised of abandoned daily materials, which she carefully selects, and go through a rigorous, almost-alchemical process of transformation. This book focuses on the individual components of the assemblages, an attempt to bring out the plethora of personalities -- from a hair claw to a shipping pallet. The book was designed in Hong Kong in parallel to Leelee’s 3-month studio practice in Shanghai, acting as a platform for dialogue and playful interpretation of the found objects that take up very different roles in the book and in the ultimate exhibition. 

The title Primal Material comes from ‘prima materia’, a term from alchemy referring to the first material from which all is created. It is “body and spirit, chaos, microcosm, and the confused mass; it contains in itself all colors and potentially all metals; there is nothing more wonderful in the world, for it begets itself, conceives itself, and gives birth to itself.”

Paul Kugler. The Alchemy of Discourse: Image, Sound and Psyche. Daimon, 2002. p.112


Editions of 200. Published by Capsule Shanghai gallery in 2019.