All posts filed under: Reviews

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 …

Alex Prager

Lehmann Maupin  Hong Kong Jan 18 – Mar 17 Katherine Volk For Alex Prager’s second solo exhibition in Hong Kong, the Los Angeles-based artist demonstrates through staged film and photography that a familiar truth lies beneath fiction. To the left of the entrance sits Prager’s sculpture Hand Model (detail) (2017) of a bent finger with a long, red-painted nail. Next to the manicured finger is Hand Model (2017), a framed, enlarged image of a whole outstretched hand against a muted background. The cropping from body to hand, and from hand to finger, is reminiscent of advertising practices of enlarging and editing to fit ideals and specifications. Advertising is further emphasised when the same image is used in Star Shoes (2017). Hidden in the corner of the large-scale photograph, an advertisement appears on the back of a model’s magazine prop. It questions the importance of imagery and detail in our daily lives and how the smallest image or the biggest billboard can have an effect on our consciousness. In the other portion of the gallery, Prager’s single-channel video Applause (2016) plays against the white-walled backdrop. …

Claire Lee

The Awakening  Charbon Art Space Hong Kong Oct 14 – Nov 11 Caroline Ha Thuc Claire Lee’s new series, which she started in early 2016, pertains to the figure of the bison, a species on the brick of extinction. The artist doesn’t question the bison’s perception but rather follows an anthropomorphic approach, using the mighty but fragile body of the animal to reflect on our human condition. The series needs to be contemplated as a whole, and the setting itself is part of the work. At the back of the gallery, sheets of poetry have been hung on the branches of trees, recalling shamanic prayer trees. Visitors can sit there and listen to the artist’s voice reading some of her poems. Most of the drawings are unframed, hung slightly away from the walls as if floating, or laid on rough wooden tables. The installation, in black, white and wood colours, creates an ethereal feeling and invites meditation. Lee’s drawings constantly play with the juxtaposition of calmness and sorrow, violence and healing, as she grabs the ephemeral …

Eric Fok

Far East Chronicle Karin Weber Gallery Hong Kong Nov 17 – Dec 30, 2017 Valencia Tong During the Age of Exploration, European men set sail to distant lands in the Americas, Africa and Asia to expand their empires. The treacherous journey to conquer new territories accelerated the development of cartography and mapmaking. Such maps have been an instrumental part in the history of colonialism; they depict boundaries and are expressions of power that reveal the geopolitical dynamics of a region. In this exhibition, Macau-born artist Eric Fok uses the rhetoric of the Age of Exploration in his intricate map-like works to explore the postcolonial condition of cities in Asia. He combines the imagined with the real, as well as history with modernity. The exhibition is reminiscent of a maritime museum showcasing historical artefacts. The meticulously hand-drawn illustrated maps are framed and hung on the walls of the gallery, dimly lit by the warm yellow light that floods the space. At the far end of the gallery is a wooden briefcase displaying one of the artist’s works. Despite the vintage look …