Gallery Exit / Hong Kong / Mar 13 – Apr 30, 2021 / Tiffany Leung /
In times of crisis like these, taking time to look at art can seem something of a luxury. In some ways it is – the pandemic, along with the pressure to uphold productivity, has relentlessly consumed our mental capacity in the past year. But time and again we are reminded that the more our real life distracts us from looking at art, the more closely we should be looking at it.
The group exhibition The world is a show for my chosen eye’s delight at Gallery Exit reiterates this idea – a need for stopped time to examine and reflect on our experience from new perspectives. The show takes its name from the title of a manga novel by Japanese artist Suehiro Maruo, who is known for employing dark humour and gory aesthetics as a metaphor for absurdity in society. “It not so much a direct response or tribute to Maruo’s work,” says Hilda Chan, gallery manager of Exit. “The reference is loose and alludes to his spirit in creating art that connects closely with real life, summoning ideas inspired by our urban landscapes and popular culture.”
Hong Kong-based tattoo artist and printmaker Li Ning sees printmaking as an extension of his tattoo work and often fuses the two practices, like carving out finer details in his etchings with his tattoo gun. His new work Multiple Choice (2021) comprises 16 intaglio prints inspired by symbolism found in divination cards. They read like a stream of spiritual consciousness, guided by figurative and abstract forms of bodies plotted in meticulously depicted surrealist landscapes. Whether Li is working on skin or on copper, the effect is morphing and evocative, creating intriguing worlds in which to immerse yourself.
Supernatural beings, such as ghosts and demons, are also embodied in the work of Oscar Chan Yik Long. Stemming fromhis interest in horror films, Rendez-vous avec la peur (2019) (meaning “An appointment with fear”) is a series of ink drawings inspired by French director Jacques Tourneur’s 1957 horror film of the same name. When confronted with fear, Chan purposefully drives his thoughts to the dark extremes by “exploring the worst case scenarios in my own imaginations and nightmares”. Like Maruo, Chan’s haunting, grotesque depictions bring to light disturbing mediations of our dark desires.
Across the room are works by two emerging Hong Kong-based artists, Olga Au Wing Chau and Hilarie Hon. The works complement each other, with their similarly vibrant, humourous and deliberately amateurish styles. Using a combination of spray paint and acrylic, Au renders her paintings with whimsical characters and brightly coloured sets. For instance, We Are Happy Together (2021) comprises an assortment of shapes with emoji-like faces in hues of acid green and fluorescent pink. These faces are frequently portrayed in Au’s paintings; she describes them as “a smiley face that looks like a smile but is not a smile”.
Gathered in flocks throughout the gallery are flamingo-like, neon, pink and orange sculptures by Hilarie Hon. Titled Legless Flamingos (2017), these legless porcelain creatures with uncanny cartoon faces appear as comical interludes between artworks in the space, retaining the playful, peculiar undertone of the exhibition.
Some of the subtler works in the exhibition belong to artists and publishers: Son Ni from Taiwan, and Hong Kong-born Chihoi. Ni’s pencil-on-paper The Sun’s Shadow (2016) is an example of her signature style – graphite lines and abstract corporeal forms contained in panels, which fall somewhere into the space between drawings and comics, half nonsensical and half allegorical. Our vision progresses across the eight panels rhythmically, moving between architectural contours and soft figures in motion. By carefullyorchestrating tensions between lines, forms and spaces, Ni’s work invites us to reassemble narratives and contemplate new meanings each time we look.
Chihoi’s new work Paper on Paper (2021) is a “series of 12 sequential paintings about the various stages of producing, reproducing and publishing books from start to finish”. Frame by frame, Chihoi takes us through the cycle as paper turns into books that are finally sold in exchange for money. This astute observation of the process is perhaps a metaphor for the world around us as it changes and cycles back repeatedly.
At the far end of the gallery are two artists who work, in different ways, with materials found on the streets of Hong Kong. Ocean Leung’s Unknown Pleasures (2013) and They Don’t Like Eggs (2016) derive from cut, spliced and reconstructed vinyl banners that were once used as promotional signage by the government and political parties during elections. In contrast, animation and comic artist Kongkee showcases a variety of dazzling, sci-fi-inflected works: silkscreens, lenticular and digital prints, converted found objects, a digital print laminated on a door, and hand-painted taxi doors. For both artists, the appropriation and manipulation of urban materials deconstructs official narratives, in the hope of reclaiming what was lost.
Although our future might seem bleak, these artists continue to reflect on our times and propose imaginative alternatives to our reality. Perhaps for just a moment, we can find new ways to orientate ourselves again and renew our view of the world, in all its splendour and grief.
安全口畫廊 / 香港 / 2021年3月13日至4月30日
諸如⿁魅和惡魔之類的超自然生物在陳翊朗的作品中也有所體現。出於對恐怖電影的興趣，他創作了一系列水墨繪畫《Rendez-vous avec la peur》（意為「與恐懼的約會」），靈感來自法國導演雅克·特納 (Jacques Tourneur）1957年的同名經典驚悚電影。每當恐懼時，陳氏會特意去想那些極端的黑暗面，從而「在自己的想像和噩夢中探尋最惡劣的場景」。如丸尾末広一樣，陳氏對⿁魂妖怪駭人並醜惡的描繪也反映出人類的黑暗欲望。
穿過房間擺放的是兩位新進香港藝術家區詠秋和韓幸霖的作品。這些作品風格相近、相得益彰，同樣的生機勃勃、詼諧幽默並刻意營造業餘畫家的筆觸。其中區詠秋的畫作利用噴漆和塑膠彩，繪畫出異想天開的角色和色彩繽紛的場景。例如，作品《We Are Happy Together》（2021年）是由各種形狀、以酸綠和螢光粉紅為色調的表情圖標組成。這些表情圖標經常出現在區氏的畫作中，它們被描繪成一張張「似笑卻非笑的笑顏」。 而另一位藝術家韓幸霖，她所創作的霓虹粉紅及橙色的雕塑像紅鸛般成群結隊的聚集著整個畫廊空間中。作品名為《Legless Flamingos 》（2017年），這些沒有腿而展現出一張張怪誕的漫畫面孔的陶瓷雕塑，是穿插在展廳裡各個藝術作品間的滑稽小品，體現出展覽所蘊含的戲謔而不尋常的基調。