Leave a comment

Jaffa Lam 林嵐

Chasing an Elusive Nature / Axel Vervoordt Gallery / Hong Kong / 15 Oct 2022 – 7 Jan 2023 /

A long piece of dark wood welcomes visitors at the entrance of the gallery. Like a totem, or the unique remnant of a larger structure, A Piece of Silence from Lying (2022) simply stands on the floor, vertically, as if abandoned. Its delicate, carved lines suggest the fluidity of running water, as if frozen or trapped in its flow. Created from a recycled pine crate, it epitomises Jaffa Lam’s attempts at magnifying the mundane and revealing the fundamental mutability of matter. Her first solo exhibition at Axel Vervoordt Gallery explores the porosity and transformations of media, as a metaphor for the human quest for identity and a sense of belonging.

Immediately, there is a large installation, flooded by the window light. Taishang LaoJun’s Furnace (2022) resembles a graveyard, with hundreds of small volcanic stones aligned on dark soil. On closer inspection, the rocks turn out to be made of aluminium, bronze and concrete, all moulded from real pebbles that the artist collected along the coastline of Hong Kong. They incarnate the local landscape and its perpetual metamorphosis, the passing of time and the urbanisation process constantly reshaping its elusive features: today, in the physical world, one can hardly distinguish between the original and the artificial components; here, these artefacts rise up like landmarks from this mysterious battlefield. Among them, a bunch of concrete eggs with colourful flags sticking out of them brighten the installation, appearing to be either potential grenades or harmless, comforting healing toys (according to Cantonese culture, rolling an egg on your head can get rid of a headache). From the start, Lam questions our ambiguous relationship with the territory and its constructed nature.

Taishang LaoJun’s Furnace by Jaffa Lam, Bronze, concrete and recycled aluminium from boat engine, recycled umbrella fabric, Hong Kong recycled soil, dimension variable, 2022. Courtesy the artist and Axel Vervoordt Gallery.

The second room of the gallery appears vast and cold, with the artworks scattered in corners like isolated islands, leaving an empty space in the middle. This is intended to convey the current state of transition and the confusion of an ever-changing society, as well as the artist’s willingness to pause and search for benchmarks.

Echoing the verticality of A Piece of Silence from Lying, the long, colourful, church-like window of A Piece of Silence from Standing (2022) stands like a makeshift spiritual guide. Made from recycled pieces of umbrella fabric and displayed on an industrial trolley, it strengthens the general feeling of precariousness. Both Lost Limb Chair (2022) and Meditation Tent (2011) seem to offer warm shelters, although fragile ones: the chair is mounted on a rolling plank with a missing wheel, while the hanging tent might close up on your body at soon as you sit in its womb. All clearly manifest the tension between the necessity of rooting oneself in a stable place and the desire to emancipate oneself from any form of territorialisation.

Lost Limb Chair by Jaffa Lam, Recycled wood, recycled metal, concrete, abandoned chair, luminous paint on stone from Hong Kong quarantine camp, acrylic rods, light bulb, 200 x 52 x 55, 2022. Courtesy the artist and Axel Vervoordt Gallery.

On the floor, a large, metallic frame features isolated stainless steel Chinese characters. Lam moulded them from ancient inscriptions that used to welcome visitors in traditional Hakka houses in Hong Kong. They praise the value of the family and moral virtues. Now they are randomly lying on dark soil, mixed up with rocks as if they had been washed up by the sea. However, their shadow still floats above the installation, sparkling ghostly dancing lights on the wall.

In the last, brighter room, the large installation Somersault Cloud (2022) imparts a fresh impetus to the show. Emerging from a dark, veinous scholar rock, a long metal stick opens up like a dandelion, holding a dozen flying wooden clouds. This hybrid vehicle is itself resting on another trolley, and seems to be on the move, pushed by invisible winds. The heavy yet finely polished clouds defy gravity and point towards a potential exit. Their long, sharp silhouette is reproduced on the opposite wall, which Lam scratched and rubbed in order to lay bare its concrete structure, beneath the multiple layers of painting from past exhibitions. This final gesture crystallises the artist’s ontological quest and her restless endeavour to reach the true essence of things.

The whole exhibition could be read as a self-portrait. The heart of the artist beats inside A Piece of Good Water III (2017), a massive, sensuous wooden sculpture carved like a womb. It dialogues with A Piece of Good Water I (2017), its stainless steel and shiny replica, whose mirrored ripples catch the light and waver like the sea. Again, all elements seem to respond to one another as Lam embraces their singularities and metamorphoses: in her works, industrial waste combines with natural components, all continuously recycled and transformed. This intimate show reflects well the artist’s desire to be at one with nature, and her struggle to flow freely with it and let go.

A Piece of Good Water III by Jaffa Lam, Recycled crate wood, speaker, audio equipment 90 x 150 x 6 cm, 2017. Courtesy the artist and Axel Vervoordt Gallery.

追尋不可名狀之境地 / 維伍德畫廊香港 / 2022年10月15日至2023年1月7日

在畫廊的入口放置了一根長型深色木材歡迎參觀者。《A Piece of Silence from Lying》(2022年)像是圖騰或大型結構中的一塊特別的斷片,它彷若被遺棄般垂直放在地上。它以精細刻劃的線條表現出流水的流動感,像是把流水凍結或困住一樣。林嵐利用一個回收的松木箱創作這件作品。這件作品集結了林嵐想要放大平凡和展現物質本身可變性的想法。林嵐在維伍德畫廊舉辦的首個個人展覽中探索媒介的多孔性和變換性,藉此比喻人對身份和歸屬感的探求。

緊接著是一件放置在窗邊陽光下的大型裝置作品。《Taishang LaoJun’s Furnace》(2022年)彷照墳場的設計,在深色的泥土上排列了幾百塊小火山岩。走近細看,那些小石塊是林嵐以鋁、青銅和水泥按照她在香港海岸邊收集的鵝卵石製作。負石塊展現了香港本地的景觀與其不休的蛻變、時間的流逝及都市化的過程不斷重塑其難以捕捉的特性:在這裡,在現實生活中我們難以分辦原生和人造的元素;這件作品中的人工製品如同神秘戰場上的地標。在小石塊之間有一些水泥製的蛋,它們插著彩旗,為作品增添幾分色彩。這些水泥蛋可能是手榴彈,亦可能是無害的治癒型玩具(根據廣東文化,把雞蛋放在頭上滾動可治療頭痛)。林嵐從一開始便對我們和這片土地之間模糊的關係及其人工建構的本質提出疑問。


呼應《A Piece of Silence from Lying》的垂直設計,《A Piece of Silence from Standing》(2022年)是一塊看似教堂花窗的長型彩色玻璃,如同臨時精神引導指標般站立。這件作品用回收的傘布製作並放在工廠手推車上展示,以加強不穩定的感覺。《Lost Limb Chair》(2022年)和 《Meditation Tent》(2011年)看似提供了溫暖的庇護,但這種庇護其實相當脆弱:那張椅子是放在缺少了一個滾輪的滾板上,而那個懸掛式帳篷則是參觀者一旦坐進去便會收攏包裹著他的身體。這些特性都展現了人對穩定的需求及對擺脫各種領域概念的渴求之間的矛盾。

Exhibition view of Chasing an Elusive Nature. Jaffa Lam at Axel Vervoordt Gallery Hong Kong. Courtesy the artist and Axel Vervoordt Gallery.


在最後一間更明亮的房間裡,大型裝置《Somersault Cloud》(2022年)為是次展覽帶來嶄新的感官感受。在一塊深色的觀賞石上,長金屬枝條像蒲公英般散開,頂部連接著木片製成的浮雲。這件混合裝置被安裝在一部手推車上,被無形的的風輕輕推動著。那些頗有重量且經過仔細潤飾的雲違反重力法則,指向一個可能的出口。它們又長又尖的側影投射在另一邊的牆上。林嵐曾刮抹那面牆以刮走之前的展覽留下的幾層顏料,讓水泥牆重新展露人前。她的這個舉動反映了她對本體的探索和對事物真正本質不休止的追求。

Somersault Cloud by Jaffa Lam, Abandoned scholar’s rock, metal, re- cycled wood, wheels
320 x 250 x 210 cm, 2022. Courtesy the artist and Axel Vervoordt Gallery.

是次展覽可以視為林嵐的一幅自畫像。她的意念融入了《A Piece of Good Water III》(2017年)這件巨大感性的仿子宮木雕。它與《A Piece of Good Water I》(2017年)對照呼應,後者是前者閃亮的不鏽鋼製仿製品,仿照出海洋裡水波折射的光線和蕩漾感。林嵐接納了不同元素的特性和變異性,再一次讓它們互相配合。在她的作品裡,工業廢料與天然物質融合,不斷循環和變化。這個親密的展覽完美反映了林嵐對與大自然合而為一的渴望,和對隨大自然流動及放手的掙扎。

Leave a Reply