Month: April 2018

Elpis Chow

Blunt Gallery Exit Hong Kong Feb 24 – Mar 17, 2018 Valencia Tong The muted, pastel hues of emerging Hong Kong artist Elpis Chow give her paintings a timeless quality. To viewers who are Hong Kong natives, the paintings portray easily recognisable surroundings, featuring common objects such as fences around a construction site at the side of the pavement, the iconic orange rubbish bins, security guard booths, and red and yellow bricks on the street. Despite the presence of familiar objects from the city, the paintings also look nothing like Hong Kong, with their vast empty spaces generating an uncanny feeling. It’s unusual for a densely populated city with notoriously cramped living spaces to feature such open spaces with not a single person in sight. The crisp lines and modernist aesthetics of the architecture depicted in paintings such as Invisible Wall and Dim Scene recall those of American artist Ed Ruscha’s low-rise suburban communities, while Vacant is reminiscent of British artist David Hockney’s Californian swimming pools. The interior and exterior settings shown in Chow’s paintings elevate the mundane and banal side of everyday …

NOW: A Dialogue on Female Chinese Contemporary Artists

Multiple venues in the UK. Until September 2, 2018. By Margot Mottaz Over the past two months, six institutions across the UK have come together to celebrate the women at the forefront of contemporary art in China. A project spearheaded by the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art in Manchester, in collaboration with the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Nottingham Contemporary, Turner Contemporary in Margate, HOME in Manchester and Tate Research Centre: Asia, NOW: A Dialogue on Female Chinese Contemporary Artists offers a platform for cultural exchange, raising universal issues relating to gender, identity and perception. Bringing together a variety of artists connected by their gender and nationality naturally prevents the programme from being perfectly cohesive and thematically straightforward. The exhibition at the CFCCA, for example, features works by seven artists that are perplexing, but equally rewarding once they reveal themselves as acute commentaries on established social structures. Na Buqi’s (b.1984) site-specific installation Floating Narratives (2017) combines artificial exotic plants and images of landscapes printed on silk with portable fans and hanging lights on a scaffolding-like …

Liang Ban

Diary of a Pioneer  de Sarthe Gallery Hong Kong Jan 27 – Mar 17 An unearthly purple glow fills the room as a rumble of thunder emanates from the back of the gallery. Consisting of four new works, Liang Ban’s immersive first solo exhibition at de Sarthe Hong Kong questions our relationship to wilderness and the absurdities of human civilisation. The source of the glow is Neon Wilderness: Nazca Lines (2018), which as the name suggests alludes to the Nazca Lines in Peru, geoglyphs scratched into the earth nearly 2,000 years ago that have survived due to the area’s dry climate and minimal human interference – until a truck driver damaged them by driving across them the same week Liang’s exhibition opened. The depictions of animals, plants and shapes went largely unnoticed until they were discovered in the 1920s by a hiking archaeologist, and became increasingly famous with the growth of aviation. Through his use of glowing paint, Liang recreates the symbols on the gallery walls, commenting on the mystery of how they appeared. Though widely thought to be created …

Sculpture Parks and Street Art: Curating Hong Kong’s Public Art Agenda

By Aaina Bhargava Hong Kong, renowned for its booming art market, is widely regarded as Asia’s art hub. While commercial success has unquestionably been essential in validating this rising status, so has been the provision of proper education and exposure of the public to a diverse range of artistic practices. To fulfil its potential as an art capital, Hong Kong needs more of the latter. There are still sectors of the art community that are severely under-represented, from local art initiatives to experimental art spaces and, in particular, public-art projects. Public-art programmes are vital to cultural development in cities, due to the easy accessibility to art they provide. Hong Kong has suffered from a lack of quality programmes, but two recent initiatives seek to change this. One is Hong Kong’s first sculpture park, and the other is the formation of HKwalls, a non-profit organisation facilitating street-art projects citywide. Harbour Arts Sculpture Park opened in late February, altering an iconic space on the harbour front between Central and Wan Chai. Co-curators Tim Marlow and Fumio Nanjo have emphasised the significance of the park in …

Leung Chi Wo

By Caroline Ha Thuc there and thenness “Is History not simply that time when we were not born?” asks Roland Barthes, while looking at a photograph of his mother as a child, in his book Camera Lucida. Leung Chi Wo’s process is all too Barthesian: born in 1968, he focuses here on 1967, the year when the most violent riots in the post-Second World War history of Hong Kong took place. In the womb of his mother, the artist could not witness those events, and to recollect today occurrences that are lost forever, he can only rely on archives, found objects and stories. This exhibition could be perceived as a personal museum, another version of the Museum of the Lost project he and Sara Wong began in 2013, but one dedicated to 1967, a year he was not around but tries to reach for – despite the effects of time and subjectivity – through the power of photography and the socially constructed memory of the past. Fraser (2015) epitomises the artist’s practice and concerns. The installation features …

Art for the People

One percent or 99 percent? By Vivienne Chow That’s the dilemma for a lot of public cultural institutions when it comes to putting on a show. Artistic excellence does not necessarily translate to public appeal. If an exhibition is skewed towards the one percent of educated art aficionados, it can easily become irrelevant. But if it aims at a wider public, the populist approach could mean foresaking certain artistic qualities. Walking that fine line is no easy task, but some institutions achieve it. They are characterised by a welcoming atmosphere and put on shows that are playful and easy to understand but also stimulating; children and adults can enjoy the shows without the need of patronising guided tours. The exhibition Wonderland, which runs until April 15 at the Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art (MIMA) in Brussels, is a nice example. MIMA is a young institution located in the Molenbeek neighbourhood. Housed in a century-old brick house that was formerly a brewery for Belle-Vue Kriek beer, it is located right by the Brussels-Charleroi Canal that separates the centre …

Alex Prager

Lehmann Maupin  Hong Kong Jan 18 – Mar 17 Katherine Volk For Alex Prager’s second solo exhibition in Hong Kong, the Los Angeles-based artist demonstrates through staged film and photography that a familiar truth lies beneath fiction. To the left of the entrance sits Prager’s sculpture Hand Model (detail) (2017) of a bent finger with a long, red-painted nail. Next to the manicured finger is Hand Model (2017), a framed, enlarged image of a whole outstretched hand against a muted background. The cropping from body to hand, and from hand to finger, is reminiscent of advertising practices of enlarging and editing to fit ideals and specifications. Advertising is further emphasised when the same image is used in Star Shoes (2017). Hidden in the corner of the large-scale photograph, an advertisement appears on the back of a model’s magazine prop. It questions the importance of imagery and detail in our daily lives and how the smallest image or the biggest billboard can have an effect on our consciousness. In the other portion of the gallery, Prager’s single-channel video Applause (2016) plays against the white-walled backdrop. …