All posts filed under: Reviews

Tap Chan, Thea Djordjadze, Jason Dodge, Eisa Jocson, Pratchaya Phinthong

My Body Holds Its Shape / Tai Kwun Contemporary / Hong Kong / May 25 – Sep 27, 2020 / Jacqueline Leung / Little Mermaid Ariel’s song preceded the exhibition hall. By the time the dancer was seen, he had already turned on all fours, stretching his limbs with feline grace. In Eisa Jocson’s Zoo (2020), performance is in a constant state of becoming. Working with the expanse of the room, the dancers shifted between routine and improvised imitations of characters and animals, enlivening a space made to confine – previously as a women’s prison, now as a four-walled enclosure for art. Loosely organised around metaphorical interpretations of the body, such as its existence as a physical container, or as a mental framework of the self, My Body Holds Its Shape questions our efforts to sustain these edifices structuring our understanding of the world. Through the work of five artists, the exhibition opens up these limits as interstices of new relations and significance, creating, according to the opening statement, a “view that was not there …

Chris Huen Sin Kan 禤善勤

Puzzled Daydreams / Simon Lee Gallery / London / Jun 15 – Jul 3 / Margot Mottaz / The irony isn’t lost on me that as I emerged from lockdown and into central London for the first time in months, I stepped right into the home of a stranger, albeit through a series of works on paper and large-scale canvasses by artist Chris Huen Sin Kan. Puzzled Daydreams marks the artist’s second solo exhibition with Simon Lee Gallery, and first in London, though it inaugurated the gallery’s online viewing room as the pandemic took its tollon the UK in mid-March and prevented the show from opening to the public until recently, by appointment only. Huen was born and raised in Hong Kong, where he still lives with his wife Haze, their two children, Joel and Tess, and their three dogs, Doodood, MuiMui and Balltsz, who all appear again and again as the loyal protagonists in the artist’s intimate works. As an inherent part of Huen’s daily life, they represent the ideal subject matter to consistently revisit the mundane, trivial moments that make …

Tang Kwong San 鄧廣燊

Hidden Space / Hong Kong / Mar 13 – May 2, 2020 / Ellen Wong / Hidden Space was established in 2017 and has since provided numerous exhibition opportunities to new artists. Since 2018, the winner of Hong Kong Art School’s Hidden Space Award has been given the chance to hold a solo exhibition at the venue. Although located in the out-of-the-way Kwai Chung, it is a good starting point to view emerging forces in the local art scene. In March 2020, Hidden Space hosted Wandering. At Sea, a solo exhibition of young Hong Kong artist Tang Kwong San. Tang was born in 1992 in Dongguan, mainland China. The absence of a mother is at the core of his work. In his graduate exhibition last year, Tang portrayed his late mother’s room when she was alive. Bedroom (2019) explored Tang’s own inner world, reflecting the sense of loss after the passing of a loved one. Somewhere in Time (2019), his collaboration with artist Yuen Nga Chi, was one of the finalists at the WMA Masters awards 2019/20. Turning a telephone box …

Hong Kong – Tales of the City

Denny Dimin Gallery & Videotage / New York / Mar 13 – May 2, 2020 / Mimi Wong / Even before the pandemic struck, the dystopian visions and reimagined histories presented in Hong Kong – Tales of the City felt extremely relevant and timely. Media works from nine artists belonging to Hong Kong’s oldest video collective address a range of vital issues, from civic engagement to the impact of globalisation on contemporary urban life. The collaboration between Videotage and Denny Dimin Gallery opened in New York just as the city headed into lockdown. As part the ongoing effort to prevent the further spread of Covid-19, the gallery’s temporary closure meant that the group exhibition could only be viewed online. Instead of moving through rooms with monitors and headsets, one simply had to scroll down the page to navigate the three parts devised by curator Isaac Leung. With most run times clocking in at 10 minutes or under, the videos could comfortably be watched in one sitting. The first section, Publicness, introduced the notion of a collective consciousness through …

Various Artists

Borrowed Scenery / Cattle Deport Artist Village / Hong Kong / Dec 14 – Jan 12 / Christie Lee / In Japanese garden design, borrowed scenery is the practice of incorporating the surrounding landscape into the composition of your garden. It’s unclear what Borrowed Scenery, a group exhibition of six Hong Kong-based artists and artist groups at Cattle Depot Artist Village, is borrowing from, and what scenery it might conjure. According to co-curators André Chan and Jing Chi-yin Chong, the show isn’t so much a direct reflection of the Hong Kong protests as a general reflection of what’s been happening in the world. Yet it’s difficult not to see the art through the eyes of the local sociopolitical movement. Ko Sin Tung’s Guardian (2019) shows someone gently weaving together a barbed wire fence in three videos. The title is ironic, for while a fence is meant to protect, Ko’s video evokes images of the menacing rows of barbed wire installed around Kwun Tong Police Station ahead of a march in the neighbourhood last August. Opposite this work, Sarah Lai’s “graffiti columns” seem …

Various Artists & Josh Haner

Disruptive Matter & The New York Times: Carbon’s Casualties / K11 Atelier HACC / Hong Kong / Jan 17 – Feb 16, 2020 / Ellen Wong / Two exhibitions inaugurated HACC, the new venue run by the K11 Art Foundation that opened in Quarry Bay in January: Disruptive Matter, a group show of works about sustainable and innovative designs; and The New York Times: Carbon’s Casualties, a prize-winning collection of climate photography. Following in the footsteps of Murakami vs Murakami at Tai Kwun last year and the recent Hong Kong Museum of Art exhibition A Sense of Place: from Turner to Hockney, K11 experimented with a pay model at the new venue, charging HK$80 for admission. While the appeal of the former two exhibitions lies in the renown of the artists, the exhibitions at HACC were bolder, featuring less famous names. Curated by Anouchka van Driel, Disruptive Matter brought together works from 12 designers and artists addressing environmental issues, while The New York Times Carbon’s Casualties showcased the climate photography of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Josh Haner. …

Howie Tsui

Parallax Chambers / Burrard Arts Foundation / Vancouver  / 10 Jan – 7 Mar, 2020 / Elliat Albrecht / Two years ago, while passing by Aberdeen Fish Market after it had closed for the night, Howie Tsui wandered inside to consider the tanks in the dark. As the artist stood there alone, he noticed inky liquid steadily sloshing over the market floor and into his shoes, later realising that it was part of a nightly ritual in which stagnant water is flushed out of the aquariums. A similar teeming tank is a recurring motif in Tsui’s exhibition Parallax Chambers at Burrard Arts Foundation in Vancouver, where Hong Kong-born Tsui is based. The centrepiece of the show is the fantastical animation Parallax Chambers (2018-), made from scans of hundreds of Tsui’s ink-and-marker drawings. Projected against one wall in a darkened room, the work features spectral imagery inspired by the wuxia martial arts fiction series Legend of the Condor Heroes, Hong Kong cinema and a grisly fish in a tank with a fluctuating water level. Various haunted-looking characters are seen impaled by …

Gordon Cheung

Tears of Paradise / Edel Assanti / London / Jan 17 – Mar 18, 2020 / Margot Mottaz / Geopolitics. If a single word summarises the theme of Gordon Cheung’s latest series of works (all 2020) on display at Edel Assanti in London, that would be it. In the single-room exhibition Tears of Paradise, a large hanging installation and five equally sized paintings-cum-collages confront us with the major infrastructural initiatives in China that represent the foundation of Xi Jinping’s “Chinese dream” of global hegemony. The scale of these developments is unprecedented in human history and simply unfathomable for most people, especially those of us living in the west.  Three works that deal with hyperconnectivity – bringing people and goods closer together than ever – hang side by side on one wall. The first is String of Pearls, a map of the coastal countries along the US$1 trillion Belt and Road Initiative. Its key hubs and ports appear as luminescent jewels that shine with the promise of direct trade routes between China and more than 70 countries across Asia, Africa …

Kong Chun Hei

Raise the Dimness / TKG+ Projects / Taipei / Feb 15 – Apr 12, 2020 / Brian Hioe / Kong Chun Hei’s solo exhibition at TKG+, Raise the Dimness, stands out for its adaptive use of space and effective creation of tension between works. Thenine works which comprise the exhibition prove highly complementary, echoing similar concerns also seen in other works by Kong. Non-stop Stop (2019), a single-channel video work depicting two hands in continual motion, as if clapping but never fully meeting, frames the viewer’s entrance into the gallery space. Attention is next drawn toward Flooding (2019), which runs diagonally through the length of the exhibition and consists of 20 stainless steel water gauges placed on the gallery floor. Flooding and another piece, Signature Work II (2020), an acrylic LED lightbox showing a grey static field affixed to a barrier in the centre of the gallery, which has two rooms, further divide the exhibition space. Standoff (2019), a large installation that occupies an entire wall, consisting of several dozen darts attached to it, occupies the viewer’s attention in the first …

Justin Wong Chiu Tat

Normal Life / A Concept Gallery / Hong Kong / Feb 13 – Mar 14, 2020 / Valencia Tong / Philosophers, artists and musicians often contemplate the meaning of life, asking why we exist and whether there’s a higher purpose for what we are doing. Aristotle’s well-known reflection on how to live a good lifeinspires many people to see the eudaimonia he advocates as something worth achieving. On the other hand, some perfectionists embody Sisyphus in his never-ending quest to pushing a rock up a mountain. While all these manifestations of the desire for self-actualisation can be cliched, the exhibition Normal Life at A Concept Gallery is surprisingly refreshing, as it unshackles itself from the burden of maintaining a facade of such lofty ambitions. Prompting us to consciously re-examine and re-engage with our experiences in daily life, comic artist Justin Wong Chiu Tat’s illustrations offer us an alternative to what he deems “distorted human nature”, which arises from our culture of maximising everything. Instead, he takes a down-to-earth approach, presenting a sincere investigation of what normal life is. On entering the dimly …