All posts filed under: Reviews

Wu Jiaru 吳佳儒

To the Naiad’s House / Flowers Gallery / Hong Kong / Sep 29 – Nov 12 / The story of Southeast China in the 1990s is one of breakneck transformation. Cranes worked in tufts of dust, new structures climbed steel frames to scrape the sky, and opportunity was in the air. For many millions of people in Guangzhou, Shenzhen and smaller townships, the proverbial first bucket of gold seemed less like a fantasy and more like a real possibility. As China’s economy opened up, Southeast China felt closer to Hong Kong than ever before. Media and information moved across the border. Even though a border and bureaucracy separated Guangdong province from Hong Kong, people couldn’t help but form impressions of the city through glimpses offered in films and portrayals on television. For her recent exhibition at Flowers Gallery, Wu Jiaru mined her upbringing in Guangzhou and feelings as a Hong Kong transplant, revisiting experiences as a child who spent time in her mother’s restaurant, watching the world change through a TV screen. The solo presentation …

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 …

Haim Steinbach

tin drum / White Cube / Hong Kong /Sep 14 – Nov 12, 2022 / Four horizontal display shelves line the exhibition walls of White Cube’s ground floor gallery. The open shelves are lined with groupings of objects – rubber dog chew toys, robots, spaceships and monsters, metal Star Wars lunch boxes. The display is reminiscent of a child’s bedroom, with cherished objects lined up on shelves in a way that may be cryptic to an outsider but hold personal meaning to the child. Angular and wedge-shaped, the shelves and the objects are all in a palette of black and red, sitting in stark contrast against the white walls. Two geometric, black and red toy cars sit beside a snowman-shaped black dog chew toy atop a red and black shelf. The work, El Lissitzky II-4 (2008-2012), references the Russian artist who cofounded the suprematism movement. Allusions to the Russian constructivist movement are echoed throughout the four shelf arrangements, creating a formal visual cohesion.  ‘tin drum’ – named after a 2011 work, tin drum, in the exhibition, …

Kong Chun Hei 鄺鎮禧

Off Beat 「踏空」 /Feyerabend /Hong Kong /Apr 1 – May 14, 2022 / As you enter art space Feyerabend, located in an old Tai Kok Tsui tong lau – a type of residential building built before the 1960s – a barber’s pole catches your attention. Its spinning action draws your eye yet lacks focus. As you continue to approach the centre of the space, the audio effects that usually come before announcements at old-style Cantonese teahouses or railway platforms blast from four mini speakers, filling the rectangular space, as if an announcement is imminent but not forthcoming. An abandoned wooden ladder and a dried up can of latex paint give the space a sense of being stuck in the past. If not for the video Sudivision playing, one might suspect that the objects were left behind from a previous occupant, instead of being part of an exhibition. I was told by the person in charge of the art space that many viewers had expected to see Kong Chun Hei’s technical pen drawings in the exhibition …

Law Yuk Mui

There Is No One Singing on the River /Oil Street Art Space, Oi! / Dec 12 – Jul 31, 2022 / There Is No One Singing on the River relates Law Yuk Mui’s experience and fieldwork along the Ng Tung River, located in Hong Kong’s northeastern New Territories. The river drains a large area and flows down on the western slope of Wong Leng, going underground in some parts of its lower course, irrigating Lau Shui Heung and Hok Tau reservoirs. Since the 1990s, its natural landscape has been radically modified due to flood control projects. Its catchment is very wide and its trajectory difficult to map out. Furthermore, the river has many names, changing as it meets various branches and tributaries. It even used to be called the Indus River, thanks to South Asian surveyors during the colonial period. Rather than trying to grasp this elusive, complex reality, Law reflects on her working methodology and proposes a very open interpretation of her journey. Based on her investigation, sound recording and mapping of the river, …

Siah Armajani & Rasheed Araeen

Two Manifestos / Rossi & Rossi /Hong Kong /Apr 2 – May 14, 2022 / Displacement finds solid ground at Rossi & Rossi’s new Wong Chuk Hang gallery, with artists Rasheed Araeen and Siah Armajani’s works serving as anchors. The exhibition title Two Manifestos refers to two seminal texts penned by Araeen and Armajani respectively: Art Beyond Art: Ecoaesthetics – A Manifesto for the 21st Century (2008) and Public Sculpture in the Context of American Democracy (1979). While they were written in different times and contexts, both posit that public sculpture and art should be created with an intention to be useful beyond the artist’s vision, in service of humanity. The exhibition broaches, explores and challenges the ideas of belonging and place. Its most memorable and thought-provoking work, Armajani’s conceptual piece Land Deeds (1970) comprises 50 folders containing 50 deeds, each certifying the artist as the owner of one square of inch of land in every American state. As marketed to immigrants, the possibility of owning land is a hallmark of the American dream. Armajani …

Wesley Tongson 唐家偉

Spiritual Mountains: The Art of Wesley Tongson 靈山:唐家偉的藝術世界 / Berkeley Art Museum 美國柏克萊大學藝術博物館 / Jan 12–Jun 12, 2022 2022年1月12日至6月12日 / DeWitt Cheng / Originality is the tacitly assumed essence and sine qua non of creative art. Young artists in the ultra-individualistic US sometimes avoid looking at older artists’ work for fear of being influenced or contaminated – to their detriment. Artists of the past learned from the masters by copying and assimilating. Arshile Gorky famously copied Picasso (“If he drips, I drip”), himself an omnivorous eye; and Ben Shahn praised the artists of the past as friendly ghosts, not obstacles or enemies. Creative talent may be inherent but it has to be developed. Postmodernist theory has added to the confusion in recent decades. The deaths of the author or artist and of individuality itself have been widely accepted in academia. Jorge Luis Borges parodied the death of originality in his prescient 1939 pseudo-article considering the literary achievement of “Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote”. “His admirable ambition,” wrote Borges, “was to produce pages which would …

Sherrie Levine 谢丽·利文

Hong Kong Dominoes / David Zwirner / Hong Kong / Sep 4 – Oct 13, 2021 / American artist Sherrie Levine’s recent exhibition Hong Kong Dominoes at David Zwirner in Hong Kong comprised six bodies of work that span three decades of the artist’s career.Levine rose to prominence as a member of the Pictures Generation, a group of artists based in New York in the late 1970s and 80s. Originally trained as a printmaker, this has continued to influence her work, of which multiple images and mechanical reproduction form the foundation. The artist chooses, reproduces and re-presents the works of dead white male artists as her own – works in the past have appropriated Walker Evans, Matisse, Brâncuși and Duchamp – undermining and calling into question concepts like authorship, originality and authenticity, and our fetishisation of these values and of certain works of art. Several works in the current exhibition make reference to modernist works. In the group of 22 watercolour on paper drawings After Henri Matisse (1985), Levine recreates and presents a sequence of …

cucurrucucu (咕咕), Starry Kong, Liao Jiaming 廖家明

Reality Overdose / RNH Space / Hong Kong / Sep 25 – Dec 12, 2021 / Wearing a silicone body suit with a muscular physique featuring six pack abs, and a mask with a bright red lipstick stain, artist Liao Jiaming caused quite a stir with his performance Repetition Maximum (2021), walking down a street in Sham Shui Po surrounded by an entourage. Connecting his two recent exhibitions, Liao guided viewers from Too Good to be True at public space the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre to the intimate setting of RNH space and the opening of his exhibition Till Love Do Us Apart, as well as the third and final part of RNH Space’s exhibition series Reality Overdose, a collaboration with the Hong Kong International Photo Festival curated by the space’s founder Yang Jiang. All three exhibitions were concerned with photography as a medium, and in particular the way it impacts contemporary culture. From collage to digital manipulation to the value society places on images, all the shows – including the first two iterations of Reality Overdose, cucurrucucu’s Waste …

Ko Sin Tung 高倩彤

An acute manner 更尖銳的方式 / Kiang Malingue / Hong Kong / Nov 11 – Jan 15, 2022 / If something is sharp, the edge is often outward facing. For instance, sharpness can be used to describe piercing speech or sharp questions. But in changing times, when all sharpness has been blunted, how can one maintain one’s sharp edge? When the world squabbles about what to say and what can’t be said, Ko Sin Tung quietly conveyed what she considered to be a sharp edge in her solo exhibition at Kiang Malingue. Memories of the artist’s last exhibition are still fresh: for that, she turned the gallery space, in a Grade A office building in Central, into a construction site. For this new exhibition, the gallery has temporarily relocated to an old industrial building in Aberdeen. But the exhibition space inside the gallery is suffocatingly clean, and cool tones pervade the venue and the works. There are only two pieces, and Ko’s signature allusion to spaces in construction is nowhere to be found. At first glance, …