Skip to main content

Coffee bubbles having a smiley face? Electrical socket looking astonished? Tree rings appearing like a puppy? All these are examples of the psychological phenomenon known as “Pareidolia”, where the human mind tends to seek familiar patterns and thus often associates random images with faces or animals. Renowned local photography artist David Leung has taken Pareidolia as the theme of his artistic journey and created symmetrical visuals out of his food and landscape photographs, unveiling the hidden surreal faces in the scene. Five captivating collections, with a total of 22 brand-new artworks, will be exhibited at Gallery by the Harbour from 23 May to 16 June, serving a visual feast for all “diners”.

David’s solo exhibition, titled 見餐不是餐: see food NOT see food”, has drawn inspiration from the ancient Zen saying, “See mountains as mountains; See mountains as no mountains; See mountains remain being mountains (見山是山, 見山不是山, 見山仍是山)”, which illustrates the 3 stages of perceiving reality: First, people see things as they are. Second, people interpret the meanings behind the things they see. Delving into the second stage, David sees and uncovers the lively faces in the most ordinary food with his one-of-a-kind perspective. In this exhibition, apart from his iconic series “BEASTS FROM FEASTS”, David has collaborated with various parties for the first time and created 4 brand-new collections, all presented in unique ways that resonate with the themes of the images.

A Fusion of Dishes, Art, Photography and the Psychological Phenomenon “Pareidolia” 

“Pareidolia” might sound complicated, but in fact it happens in many day-to-day contexts. For example, the emoticons are groups of irrelevant symbols, while people see them as playful facial expressions – all are just the shared imaginative perceptions of the viewers. David’s “Pareidoliart” journey started with a cloud photo that he posted back in 2022. He noticed that his friends had respectively imagined the cloud as something else. It triggered him to explore the possibility of combining pareidolia and food art. As a professional photographer specialized in capturing food, he has transformed his food photos into symmetrical images which people can easily associate with all kinds of faces. As for whether the fried garlic slices are like a buffalo, or the toasted marshmallow is like a snake, it is all up to your imagination.

Comparison of food photos before and after David’s reimagination:

The exhibition will showcase 5 distinct art collections, among which 3 are collaborations with local artist, food author, and food enthusiast. The framing and presentation of each collection artfully echo the essence of the images themselves, demonstrating David’s meticulous attention to details of his artworks.


This is David’s first continuous collection of food pareidoliart. Strange beasts in symmetrical food images are printed on metallic foil mounted on 18-inch white ceramic plates, just like how dishes are served on a dining table, inviting audience into the world where gastronomy intertwines with imagination. No matter is it a highly crafted creamy uni pasta, or just the “sidekick” garlic in teppanyaki, they all possess infinite possibilities in his eyes. David focuses solely on capturing the delicious moments of the delicacies when he takes the food photographs. It is then through his unique perspective and reimagination that the surreal “beasts” come to life from the dishes. As viewers are searching for beasts’ faces, they may find that the beasts are also gazing back at them.

Shot on iPhone

For the first time, David used an iPhone to capture the original photos of his pareidolia artworks. He has transformed the landscape photos taken with iPhone 15 Pro over the past 6 months in Switzerland, Japan, and Hong Kong into symmetrical visuals and framed them in the shape and ratio of an iPhone. The themes of the four artworks are city, clouds, fire, and trees respectively, with the ever-changing elements in the scene especially captivating. David particularly listed the image information next to the artwork, such as aperture, shutter speed, focal length, metering mode, and the geographic coordinates of the photos, letting the audience further immerse in the moment of capture. Also, he would like to emphasize that expensive equipment is not necessary for art creations, hoping to encourage the public to explore art.


David has collaborated with local artist Benny Li to create this collection. Benny performed his calligraphy next to David’s work, writing about the origin of the food and the story behind the art piece. Presented in the style of traditional Chinese ink wash paintings, this collaboration creates a harmonious artistic fusion of delicacy, photography, calligraphy, and literature. In the artwork “YouTiao Poodle”, Benny’s narration mentioned not only the background of youtiao, but also the significance of the artwork to David as the reimagined youtiao looks like his beloved dog. It has enhanced the poetic atmosphere along with Benny’s sophisticated calligraphy.

Art Jamming

Embracing the concept of art jamming, David invited the talented jam artisan and food writer Wilson Fok for collaboration. To feature Wilson’s handmade jam, David captured both the hidden faces in and the artistic qualities of the jam. The artworks are framed in glass and black edges with a red and white cotton string, resembling a jar of jam. In his previous artworks, all the dishes were prepared by restaurants, but in this series, he takes on the role of the “chef”, plating his everyday homemade breakfasts and afternoon teas. Either paired with white bread or toast, the jams in the four photos look distinct with varying size, shape, and seeds.

Camera Eats First

Harbour City invited all food enthusiasts to share their food photos taken in the mall. As the judge, David handpicked 10 “juiciest” food photos from a multitude of pictures. One of them was even re-created by David to become a limited art piece, offering an exceptional opportunity for public to engage in the creative process of art. The hamburger photo submitted by the food enthusiast has been transformed into the artwork “Double Shack”, resembling the trooper in a sci-fi movie. This is the first time David incorporated a photo taken by someone else into his art creation, making it extra refreshing. For framing, he has specially found the metal tray from the hamburger restaurant, echoing the presentation of his other collections.

David Leung’s Solo Show “see food NOT see food” Exhibition @Harbour City
Date: 23 May – 16 June 2024
Time: 11am – 10pm
Venue: Gallery by the Harbour (Shop 207, Level 2, Ocean Centre, Harbour City)