Quirky and stoically offbeat, Leong Chong Lao—who also goes by the moniker Puzzleman Leung—is a modern day treasure who has yet to be found. Buried deep beneath the hills of his own contemporary surrealism, Puzzleman is cultivating a powerful aesthetic that is both powerful and unassuming.
Puzzleman isn’t just some enigmatic weirdo with a camera. There are layers to his madness—pieces that make up the whole.
Puzzleman notices the unnoticeable. The humdrum scenes that we usually saunter pass and take for granted are a visual playground for Puzzleman. He has an eye for what most of us are blind to and this results in the ability to conjure potent surrealism out of thin air.
“I am always attracted by anything ordinary, mostly things from daily life. There is always something mysterious about ordinary things, they will tell you more the longer you look at them. Also, something weird or abnormal catches my eye too, they always give me inspiration to create my images. It could be a space, an object or even a kind of atmosphere.”
– Puzzleman Leung
While Puzzleman resides in the ordinary, his transmutation of this “ordinary” is what makes his work extraordinary. The series, Objects of Nothingness, is a prime example of how Puzzleman uses an unsuspecting aesthetic to lure his audience into a blissful pit of surrealistic quicksand. His lure is simplicity; and even he, as a creative, is drawn in by his very own bait.
“I was so touched the first time I saw one of Mark Rothko’s paintings in a gallery in Toronto. I think the most touching thing in the world is not something complicated but something simple… Moreover, I always think what if we were to put aside the functionality of the object itself, what would be our feelings about it? I am addicted to the appearance of the object before understanding why it exists.”
There comes a point when Puzzleman transcends and reappropriates the very wellspring from which he draws his inspiration. A point where he projects his work through this unforeseeable lens of weird that makes the Earth itself feel like an alien planet.
He doesn’t just rely on the ordinary and it’s transformation alone. One of Puzzleman’s early series, Uncanny Peace, highlights exactly what he can do when left to his own devices. With his imagination running coherently wild, Puzzleman is capable of reaching surreal heights without using reality as a springboard.
Somehow, some way, all three of the aforementioned components coexist soundly within the body of Puzzleman’s work. They all come together to form one glorious mystery. A glorious mystery that we can all get lost in.
Puzzleman Leung | www.puzzlemanleung.com
Instagram | @puzzleung
Tumblr | Puzzleman Leung
Akeem is our founder. A writer, poet, curator and profuse sweater, he is responsible for the curatorial direction and overall voice of Quiet Lunch. The Bronx native has read at venues such as the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, KGB Bar, Lovecraft and SHAG–with works published in Palabra Luminosas and LiVE MAG13. He has also curated solo and group exhibitions at numerous galleries in Chelsea, Harlem, Bushwick and Lower Manhattan.