Month: January 2018

Toshio Matsumoto

Everything Visible is Empty Empty Gallery Hong Kong Sep 9 – Nov 18, 2017 Katherine Volk Visitors to the new Toshio Matsumoto (1932-2017) show at Empty Gallery were immersed in the artist’s experimental visuals as soon as the elevator doors to the gallery opened. Pulsating, coloured waves radiated from a central void and filled the opposite wall, while the entrance space was filled with cosmic sounds. White Hole (1979) simultaneously startled and mesmerised, taking the viewer on a journey into the void. This captivating start to the exhibition was only a taster of what was behind the next door. The gallery consulted with the late artist’s archive to present a retrospective of his newly restored work. The dark space, enclosed between black walls, ceilings and floors, was the perfect setting to display the dynamic aesthetic of the post-war image maker. Empty Gallery brought together a selection of the artist’s documentaries and short experimental films from 1960 to 1979, each featuring drastically different subjects, but connected through their enquiries into the complicated conditions of a changing Japanese society. Phantom (1975) and The Song of Stone (1963) …

Crossing Hong Kong’s Harbour

By John Batten The very first art objects mass-exported from China to buyers in Europe, Asia and the Ottoman Empire were designed-to-order, ceramic and porcelain chinoiserie items, often purely utilitarian: crockery dinner sets, jars and storage urns. In the 18th century worldwide trade expanded due to growing demand, sturdier ships and established trading routes. Canton, as Guangzhou was then known, was China’s only port open for foreign trade, and encouraged by the success of the porcelain trade the earliest China Trade paintings were created there. This established the practice for visiting European traders and military personnel to buy or commission a painting as a souvenir of their visit or an export product. Executed by Chinese artisan painters, China Trade paintings were completed in a western landscape painting style, often naive and using rudimentary perspective. The paintings focused on depicting Canton life, including factories, trading houses, foreign diplomatic quarters, landscape scenes and visiting ships – subjects that appealed to Europeans. The monopoly on British trade with India and China held by the British East India Company for more than two centuries ended …

Masatoshi Masanobu

Axel Vervoordt Gallery Hong Kong Nov 15, 2017 – Feb 10, 2018 Valencia Tong The word Gutai suggests wild, expressive gestures and performances, but the work of late Gutai artist Masatoshi Masanobu (1911-95) from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s in this exhibition at Axel Vervoordt Gallery is rather controlled and subdued. Masanobu met painter Jiro Yoshihara, co-founder of the post-war avant-garde group, in Kobe in 1947; Yoshihara founded Gutai in 1954 when Masanobu was 43. A prolific artist, Masanobu participated in a number of Gutai exhibitions until the group dissolved in 1972. The earth-tone enamel colours of the paintings in the current exhibition, coupled with the primitive yet abstract composition, make them oddly calming. The emphasis on the materiality of the paintings, rather than the fleeting performative actions, creates an illusion of weight and solidity. The mind becomes lost as the eye follows the wriggling lines, hand-drawn but calculated – unlike, for example, the casual scribbles of Cy Twombly. The brushstrokes recall a magnified version of the patterns of felt or knitted fabrics. As the Gutai Manifesto says, “Gutai art does not change …

Justin Kennedy

Pizza Express founder Justin Kennedy talks about three of his favourite works from his collection. I first encountered Michael Wolf’s work in a gallery in Shanghai. From a distance I saw an image depicting a beautiful geometric pattern. I thought this was an abstract print – it was only when I got closer that I realised it was a photograph of a Hong Kong public housing estate. Closer still the geometric regularity gave way to the irregular signs of human habitation. The residents of the flats had adapted each unit to their needs and each had left unique signs of their occupation. These were buildings that I had passed many times, but only through Michael’s framing was I able to see their elemental beauty. Over the next few years I bought quite a few of Michael’s pieces both for my home and the Pizza Express restaurants that we were building at that time. The last piece that I bought was this one, a119, which depicts the inner courtyard of a building in Quarry Bay. This work …

David Zwirner Hong Kong Inaugural Exhibition by Michaël Borremans

Michaël Borremans: Fire from the Sun Jan 27 to Mar 10, 2018 Opening Reception: 6-8pm, Saturday, Jan 27, 2018 David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by Michaël Borremans, inaugurating the gallery’s space in Hong Kong. The exhibition will be the artist’s first solo show in Hong Kong and his sixth overall with David Zwirner. Fire from the Sun includes small and large scale works that feature toddlers engaged in playful but mysterious acts with sinister overtones and insinuations of violence. The children are presented alone or in groups against a studio-like backdrop that negates time and space, while underlining the theatrical atmosphere and artifice that exists throughout Borremans’s recent work.  Reminiscent of cherubs in Renaissance paintings, the toddlers appear as allegories of the human condition, their archetypal innocence contrasted with their suggested deviousness. Other paintings in the exhibition depict obscure machines, whose enigmatic presence appears foreboding in the context of the toddlers and suggests an element of scientific experimentation. Borremans has gained worldwide recognition for his innovative approach to painting. Combining technical mastery …

Art for the People

What is the purpose of art in a world troubled by environment and political disasters?  By Vivienne Chow Why art? Try convincing people of the importance of art in their lives, and that’s the question you’ll often hear. To most people out there, art isn’t a daily life necessity. It might appear on their radar when it comes to decorating their home, as we see from the growing popularity of fairs selling “affordable” art. Art is seen as an investment tool when multi-million-dollar auction results make news headlines. And art has also grown to be a popular backdrop for selfies – just scroll down your social-media feeds. But art aims to serve much greater purposes. And in order to convert the masses into believing in art, we ought to tell them what art can do for them, just as some people believe in religion to save their vulnerable souls. Recently I returned from Hong Kong to Berlin, where I previously lived for three months in 2015, as a fellowship alumna for a study tour organised …

Art Partners

Meet the three women behind some of Hong Kong’s most ambitious large-scale public exhibitions. On a recent December afternoon at the Ladies’ Recreation Club, three women gathered to discuss art. They were passionate, vocal and slightly stunned at the speed with which their lives have shifted. For Levina Li-Cadman, Sarah Pringle and Vita Wong-Kwok, art is not about recreation. This is a high-octane, professional partnership, reflected in the name they chose when they launched their company exactly a year ago: Art-Partners.  The core founder was Li-Cadman, whose background is in luxury-goods and media marketing. In 2003, when the Financial Times launched its Asia edition in Hong Kong, her job was to build its relationships with high-end clients. One of these was Christie’s, and she was subsequently asked to become the auction house’s Asia-Pacific director of business development.  After that, she began consulting for White Cube and for the Royal Academy of Arts in London. As Hong Kong’s second Art Basel fair approached in May 2014, the Peninsula hotel was keen to demonstrate its artistic sensibilities through an …

Alex Prager at Lehmann Maupin, Hong Kong, January 18

Lehmann Maupin is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by Alex Prager. The Los Angeles-based artist returns to Hong Kong with her signature style of theatrical and meticulously staged photography and film, as well as her first exhibited sculpture. In her most recent series, Prager manipulates scale and dimension to challenge our understanding of the boundary between fiction and reality. The gallery will host an opening reception on Thursday, January 18, from 6–8 pm, at the Pedder Building. Those familiar with Prager’s work will recognize elements that recall past series, such as Face in the Crowd (2013), in which her compositions highlighted the contrast between crowded public spaces and a lone heroine. These latest works push the theatrical narrative potential of her prior series. The imagery lays bare the artifice in its creation, achieved through impossible, contrived viewpoints, layering of incongruent scenes—such as a rainy day on top of a sunny one—and other formal and technical controls that challenge the assumed naturalism of photography and film.  One such formal device is scale—a major component in the …

Ink Art at M+ Pavilion

By André Chan As early as the Spring and Autumn Period (about 771 to 476 BC) and the Warring States Period (about 47 5 to 221 BC), people in China began to use ink as a writing tool. For the next 2,000 years, ink became the preferred creative medium in the Chinese cultural sphere, including much of Asia. In those 2,000 years, ink – more precisely, shui mo, water and ink mixed together to produce the full spectrum of colours – has become a genre of art based on a particular medium, with its own rich history and philosophy. However, as contemporary artists try to bridge the gaps between different media, we enter a post-media era. M+’s collection policy is that art should transcend media and geographical origin. At the beginning the museum decided to make shui mo one of the categories of its collection, becoming the first contemporary museum dedicated to the study of modern and contemporary shui mo paintings. The first shui mo exhibition from the collection at the M+ Pavilion, The Weight of Lightness, was in three …

The 17th Macao City Fringe Festival

The 17th Macao City Fringe Festival, organised by the Cultural Affairs Bureau, is themed Treasures Hunting. It takes place from January 12 to 21, 2018, and features a programme of 23 events, as well as 10 outreach activities, including workshops, talks and art critique. Jin-Tang, taking the name of Taiwanese artist Ma Wei Yuan’s grandfather as its point of departure, lets the audience take a peek at the most intimate anatomy of an individual’s life experience through body language and instant synthetic images. Idiot – Syncrasy, presented by Igor and Moreno from the UK, who believe they can change the world through performance, uses rhythmic body movements and the common elements of dances from different cultures to express a yearning for the purest human nature. Trinamics, a joint production by Hong Kong company Unlock Dancing Plaza and Japanese troupe Namstrops, presents three innovative shows: bolero explores the meaning of life through classical movements and rhythms; Hurdle #3 reverses the concepts of dance and gravity; and A Short, Thick Rainbow converts body language and passion into a language. Tickets are available through the Macau Ticketing Network!  Enquiries +853 8399 6699 (office hours) fringe@icm.gov.mo Ticketing …