All posts filed under: Reviews

Mark Bradford

Hauser & Wirth Hong Kong Mar 27 – May 12, 2018 Valencia Tong Spanning the 15th and 16th floors of H Queen’s, the newly built luxury art and cultural hub, Hauser & Wirth’s brand new Hong Kong space was inaugurated by an exhibition by US artist Mark Bradford. The US representative at the 2017 Venice Biennale, the Los Angeles-based abstract artist brought to the Hong Kong show some of his newest works, which feature a map motif. At first glance, the viewer is greeted with a scene of overwhelming tranquility, surrounded by turquoise-blue paintings against the stark white walls of the spacious gallery. The bright blue colour of the majority of the paintings evokes the feeling of being immersed in a vast ocean. However, on closer examination, the images provoke anxiety; they do not depict nature and freedom, but aerial views of a claustrophobic, restrictive urban reality. It is as if the viewer assumes the perspective of an overhead surveillance camera that sees where all the boundaries and borders of urban geographies lie, and these separations divide populations into communities according to …

Mak Ying Tung 2

The Anything Machine 26 May – 22 Jul 2018 de Sarthe Gallery, Beijing Nooshfar Afnan Machines and electronic devices are ubiquitous in our daily lives, dominating almost every aspect of them. For The Anything Machine, her first solo show at de Sarthe Gallery in Beijing, Mak Ying Tung 2 investigates through a new body of work two ideas related to machines. While some of the works question whether we exaggerate our veneration of these devices, others query whether these electronics can play an even larger role, such as in the creation of art. The latter theme is addressed in her installation Physicality II (2018), in which two Dyson fans, one blowing hot air and the other cold air onto thermal paper create an array of hues ranging from sand to indigo to green. While the art is properly framed and offers a pleasing visual display of colours, we are left wondering whether fans can replace the mind, heart and hand of an artist. The installation Physicality I (2018) employs another household appliance: a piece of …

Cheuk Wing Nam, Han Jinpeng

Wander in Style Leo Gallery at Little Tai Hang Hong Kong May 20 – Jul 31 Christine Chan Chiu For Wander in Style, a collaboration with Leo Gallery, Little Tai Hang is displaying works by new-media artists Cheuk Wing Nam and Han Jinpeng in its gallery and outdoor public areas. The whimsical pop-up show explores social themes and challenges the conventions that have traditionally surrounded classical art. Cheuk’s sound sculpture Avaritia – Silent Greed consists of about 90 green glass bottles of various sizes, suspended from a large ceiling grid similar to those used for hanging ower pots. Dangling inside each of the bottomless containers is a shard of plastic that is connected to a power source and programmed to swivel around randomly. The result is a cacophony of sounds of varying frequencies as the plastic shards strike glass. Viewers are encouraged to visit at dusk, specifically at 7pm when it is most atmospheric: from
this hour, it becomes clear in the darkened space that the bottles are also individually lit with warm fluorescent lights. The …

Jane Lee

Red States Hong Kong Arts Centre Hong Kong May 11 – Jun 10 Christine Chan Chiu The aptly named Red States showcased 17 new works and smaller existing pieces and studies by Singaporean artist Jane Lee, revolving around the boldest of all colours. Alluring and provocative, the exhibition invited its audience to contemplate the emotions and connotations that the colour red conjures. More importantly, it provided an insight into Lee’s innovative practice and artistic virtuosity for the past 15 years, highlighting her vastly tactile signature techniques, including coiling, layering, mixing and stacking. At the entrance, visitors were greeted by a large heap of tangled red canvas threads, a prelude of what was to come. The rectangular piece The Story of Canvas #2, hanging in the main gallery, is made of more layers of canvas threads, giving it an organic, fibrous texture. The Story of Canvas #1 and The Story of Canvas #1a followed – compositions of roundels of varying sizes made from coils of red canvas strips, strategically arranged and spanning 500cm along the wall. These works prompt the viewer to abandon all preconceived …

Huang Yongping, Shen Yuan

Hong Kong Foot  Tang Contemporary Art Hong Kong Dec 20, 2017 – Jan 27 Katherine Volk Huang Yongping and Shen Yuan don’t avoid provocative subjects, and their work often creates controversy. Late last year, for example, Huang’s work was topical when his piece Theatre of the World, featuring lizards consuming insects as a metaphor for human violence, helped provide the title of the exhibition Art and China after 1989: Theatre of the World at New York’s Solomon R Guggenheim Museum. After arguments between animal cruelty activists and proponents of artistic freedom, his work was ultimately pulled from the show. Neither did the pair shy away from contemporary discourse in the four works they made specifically for the opening of Tang Contemporary Art’s new space at H Queens. The title, Hong Kong Foot, refers to the fungal infection more often known as athlete’s foot, which was historically a common local condition among settlers, missionaries, soldiers and refugees. As Huang says, it has now been redefined as the way Hong Kong infects those who come to the city with its characteristics. Central to the exhibition was Huang’s …

Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra

Concert Hall, Hong Kong  Cultural Centre Hong Kong Jan 18, 2018 Ernest Wan In each of its past three concert seasons, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, under the leadership of music director Jaap van Zweden, has presented one opera from Richard Wagner’s tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen, aka the Ring Cycle. The plaudits that these concerts and the commercial recordings made of them have received meant there were high expectations for Götterdämmerung (1874), the fourth, longest and toughest work in the cycle. Happily, this final instalment did not disappoint. The orchestra, over a hundred strong, inevitably sometimes overwhelmed the solo singers, with the former just behind the latter on the stage. Daniel Brenna sounded youthful as the hero Siegfried should, but his voice and tone were wanting in power and focus respectively. As Gunther, the ruler of the Gibichung race, Shenyang had a sound that was dark and indistinct in Act One, but thereafter his voice opened up. By contrast, Eric Halfvarson sang with power and authority throughout, in a vivid and often frightening portrayal of the villain Hagen, Gunther’s half-brother. Peter …

Chen Tianzhuo, Chen Wei, Double Fly Art Center, Hu Weiyi, Lu Yang, Sun Xun, Carla Chan, Chris Cheung, Tang Kwok-hin, Morgan Wong

#You #Me #OurSELFIES  Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre Hong Kong Jan 6 – 22, 2018 Valencia Tong The hashtag has changed the way we communicate in the digital age. In the exhibition One World Exposition 2.2: #YOU#ME#ourSELFIES at Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre, artists from mainland China and Hong Kong born in the 1980s and 90s show us how the language of technology, the internet and social media infiltrates the aesthetics of art. The title suggests a radical change in how art is experienced, especially by the millennial generation. Gone are the days when security guards in museums yelled “No photos”; instead, audience members are now encouraged to document their participation and interaction with the art works by generating content themselves, usually in the form of a selfie on social media, democratising the consumption of art across time and space. The exhibition showcases how media art can engage with contemporary issues through a selection of multidisciplinary works. Hu Weiyi’s The Raver compares our consumption and production of information to being strapped to electric chairs used during executions. We are forced to react incoherently to the bombardment of images, sounds and …

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 …