All posts filed under: Features

Another Garden of Remembrance 另一個紀念花園

By John Batten / So, you have entered the Garden of Hong Kong.  (Something like) ‘How to…’ instructions (with extra comments) to listen to a DVD, or appreciate a broken washing machine or refrigerator, in Lee Kit’s Hong Kong Garden:       Be comfortable and confident as you walk in the garden.       Walk around to get a good overview of what’s inside.       Don’t touch, just look.       Listen, to the music. There’s not much, but it’s everywhere.      And there is thumping. Thumping.             Thump thump thump.       Can’t hear it? Listen again.      It’s quiet, and only heard intermittently, near the two swans’ video.            Thump thump thump       (I remember the banging of hands or sticks or anything hard against the       city’s street-signs and steel barriers, just like this, a strong tinny-steel thump).       Don’t walk in bare feet.      There are smashed-up bits of washing machine …

Rodel Tapaya 羅德爾·塔帕亞

By Caroline Ha Thuc / Random Numbers, the new exhibition by Filipino artist Rodel Tapaya, depicts a chaotic, dense reality where a multitude of fragmented objects and living creatures entwine and decompose. Inspired by Filipino and Mexican mural painters, but also by surrealist artists, Tapaya draws a carnivalesque portrait of the Philippines and, beyond, of our contemporary societies driven by excesses and never-ending consumption. Born in 1980 in Montalban, in the Philippines’s Rizal province, Tapaya is known for his neo-traditional paintings inspired by Philippine mythology, folk tales and beliefs, which he converts into allegories for our times. Scrap Paintings, the artist’s new series of works, is a departure from this, instead focusing on the concept of disaggregation. The nine paintings presented at Tang Contemporary Art are based on relatively small collages from magazine cut-outs, mostly from the National Geographic, that the artist enlarges and turns into acrylic works on canvas. He uses different coloured whiteboard markers to erase some pigments from the original images, playing with their glossy surfaces and printing ink to obtain various textural effects. …

Bruce Nauman 布魯斯·瑙曼

By Diana d’Arenberg Parmanand / This year marks the 80th birthday of American artist Bruce Nauman. Following on from a recent Tate retrospective is Presence/Absence at White Cube, the first exhibition in Hong Kong for the pioneering video artist, featuring five works: two single-channel pieces, from 1999 and 2001; and three dual-screen projections made in 2013. The artist is present in all but one of them. Many of Nauman’s earlier works are about time and endurance: his own as an artist, as he pushes himself to physical limits; and the audience’s, as they try to sit through videos of maniacal clowns (Clown Torture, 1987), and of the artist performing mundane tasks. In one of several early videos from 1968, we see him bouncing off the wall (Bouncing in the Corner I), making the viewer dizzy in the process. In another, Walk with Contrapposto (1968), he walks back and forth in a narrow corridor, exaggeratedly swinging his hips side to side. Similarly, in Walking in an Exaggerated Manner Around the Perimeter of a Square (1968), he …

Andrew Luk 陸浩明 & Samuel Swope

By Brady Ng / More than a decade ago, futurists and techno-hobbyists started to pronounce with unalloyed confidence that drones would upend the way we live. Aside from widely publicised use cases for the military, law enforcement and surveillance, the proposition was that they could also provide entertainment through photography or as general playthings, while others could automate tasks for us, like robotic cleaners or all-seeing autonomous security guards that watch over homes from above. As social and cultural developments iterate and unfold, technological advancements that ostensibly make our lives easier come with strings attached. Yet the overarching concern is velocity – prosperity and power await the first to switch zero to one. The cultural theorist and philosopher Paul Virilio described this condition as “dromology”, likening the evolution of society and culture to a race. Hong Kong-based artists Andrew Luk and Samuel Swope have teamed up for a project that unpacks Virillo’s observation. To make their point, the duo built a racetrack for drones in de Sarthe’s gallery space. Luk and Swope sound like architects …

Lau Hok Shing, So Wing Po, Zhang Ruyi 劉學成、蘇詠寶、張如怡

Amid columns of art books at Blindspot Gallery’s Wong Chuk Hang office is what looks like an object belonging in a Chinese scholar’s study. But stare at it a bit longer and an image of a tear gas cloud – a common sight on Hong Kong streets in the second half of 2019 – comes to mind. Suddenly, an object that supposedly inspires turns into one that muddles and impedes. This ambiguity threads through most of the works at The Palm at the End of the Mind, a group show by three artists, Lau Hok Shing, So Wing Po and Zhang Ruyi. The title, lifted from the first line of Wallace Stevens’ poem Of Mere Being, is something of a riddle. Which palm does Stevens refer to here – the palm of a hand or a palm tree? (It turns out to be the latter.) And never mind what lies at the end of mind – what, precisely, is the end of the mind? Despite the mind being human, the poem appears to be reaching …

Virginia Overton 弗吉尼亞·奧弗頓

Signs of the Times / By Christina Ko / When you are dealing with works as large and savagely stark as Virginia Overton’s installations, it’s easy to reduce the importance of a scattering of pieces on paper, which might initially seem to be simply two-dimensional precursors or stylistic explorations that precede their sculptural siblings, forged of aluminium and light. To many artists, paper is usually just a canvas, its function no more than to support the paint that sits on top of it; to Overton, it is a material with a history and significance equal to that of the salvaged aluminium that forms the rest of the pieces. Overton’s practice is not defined by any overarching message or cause, and, by her own admission, defying categorisation can be “problematic” in a world that loves a pigeonhole. But if there is a connective thread, it is that she works exclusively with salvaged materials, and that respecting the past life of said materials is an important aspect of the process – whether they be her go-to industrial …

ektor garcia

By Christie Lee / It must be a strange moment for ektor garcia. The artist, used to a nomadic lifestyle, is, like everyone, on lockdown, in his case in Mexico, his birthplace. Under normal circumstances, he would have flown to Hong Kong for his show Oax.D.F.L.A.N.O.H.K., yet the pandemic left him no option but to direct Empty Gallery where to place each piece through video conferencing, arranging them to mimic his own living space. On entering the black box exhibition space, visitors encounter ventanal (2020), which means ‘a large window’ in Spanish. Consisting of spider leg-like forms that twist and knot into each other, the work was created with the ancient lost-wax casting process, where molten metal is poured into a wax cast mold. One feels a perverse thrill looking at these slightly menacing forms. From there, the eye is directed towards Portales (2020), a series of hanging curtains fashioned from metals or animal skins. These are intricately latticed, the shadows they cast on the wall behind adding to the frenzy. While the ones crafted from animal …

Garden of Six Seasons 一園六季

By Brady Ng / Around the world, many public gardens, especially those normally maintained to symmetrical and groomed perfection, have been left untended during citywide lockdowns or movement control orders. In Paris, a friend walked by the Jardin de la Nouvelle-France, peered inside, and called it a “little jungle”. This wildness without wilderness is the consequence of eight weeks of precautionary restrictions. When people cannot visit parks and gardens, their upkeep is similarly affected. While human activity in public ground to a near halt in many major cities, nature reclaimed its place in our constructed environs. Wild boar roamed down paved roads in Berlin. Dolphins frolicked in sections of the Bosphorus normally busy with tankers and cargo ships. Monkeys climbed up to my sister’s fourth-floor apartment in Singapore and tried to break in. Taking its title from the name of a neoclassical garden in Kathmandu built in 1920, Garden of Six Seasons was a wide-reaching exhibition that also functioned as a precursor to the Kathmandu Triennale scheduled to open in early December and run for more than a …

Andreas Mühe 安德里亚斯·穆埃

Pathos as Distance / By Diana d’Arenberg Parmanand / Shown at Whitestone Gallery in Hong Kong, Pathos as Distance by Andreas Mühe is a survey of the artist’s work, comprising 30 photographs taken from 2004 to 2018. The East German-born photographer, who grew up in the last decade of the Cold War in a still divided Germany, creates images that portray the present through the lens of history using temporal distance to invoke pathos in a contemporary society suffering from historical amnesia. Mühe displays a fascination with power, pomp and grandeur, photographing monumental buildings, politicians, celebrities and rock stars, and even the German chancellor Angela Merkel. But he also dives into his country’s own history, subverting the totalitarian aesthetics and discourses of power that he draws on. The first photographs encountered in the exhibition are four self-portraits of the artist from the series Mühe Kopf (2018). Resembling album covers by German rock band Rammstein, with whom the artist has worked, the white, sculpted clay faces stare at the viewer with piercing blue, ceramic eyes. They are a form of vanitas, …

Jeffrey Shaw 邵志飛

WYSIWYG / By Brady Ng / Sometimes, art can leave its viewers scratching their heads. Much of it is staged to be seen from a distance in sanitised rooms, short pieces of text pasted beside it lazily flicking at pre-verbal notions. You might not engage with these objects beyond mental acrobatics or passive sensations. What you see or feel is often exactly what you get. Though that plight persists, the emergence of participatory art in the late 1950s and early 1960s shook things up. One of the artists who sought to transform the process of viewing art into active participation in its creation, Jeffrey Shaw developed a practice that riffed off the technological developments of the day. Anyone who approaches his work is meant to handle the apparatus he designed and built – clunky monitors (now slimmed down), stationary bicycles (now more robust), dials, knobs, switches, sensors. Shaw has been based in Hong Kong for 11 years. In 2009, he joined City University of Hong Kong as its chair professor of media art, and was dean of the …