All posts filed under: Reviews

Wong Ping

Heart Digger / Camden Arts Centre & Cork Street Gallery, London / Jul 5 – Sep 15, 2019 /  Margot Mottaz / How to write about art when the world is on fire? More specifically, how to write about art from Hong Kong when the territory is experiencing a historic revolution? The answer is simple: art is freedom. It offers a new perspective, a common language to challenge opposition, ignorance and oppression. And Wong Ping’s two-venue exhibition in London does exactly that. Spread across the Camden Arts Centre (CAC) – which awarded Wong the inaugural Emerging Artist Prize at Frieze in 2018 – and the Cork Street Gallery, the works in Wong Ping: Heart Digger employ just the right amount of humour and cynicism to expose the darkest sides of contemporary society in their full absurdity. Wong unmistakably belongs to the 21st century. Explicitly political, he tackles everything from alienation and taboos to violence and corruption in the age of online dating, surveillance and social media, all packaged in a low-resolution saccharine aesthetic and deadpan …

Xu Zhen

The Glorious / Perrotin / Hong Kong / Mar 25 – May 11 / Katherine Volk / Walk into Perrotin, and a towering sculpture commands the middle of the room, surrounded by two large-scale series from Xu Zhen’s solo exhibition The Glorious. The juxtaposition of media and styles typifies Xu’s exploration of cultural exchange, authenticity, history, globalisation and capitalism. The prolific artist founded MadeIn Company in 2009 and creates work both individually and through the collective practice of the group. In Eternity – Northern Qi Painted Bodhisattva, River God Ilissos from West Pediment of Parthenon (2018), from Xu’s Eternity series, a replica of a Northern Qi (AD 550-577) figure is posed upside down on top of a replica of a Classical Greek sculpture, with the head and arms removed from the former to match the latter. The two headless, handless bodies are seemingly defenceless, conjoined at the necks in an unwilling but inevitable clash of cultures. The sculptures depict Gods and the Buddha as figures elevated beyond mankind; comically connected, they satirically confront the fluidity and struggles of humanity, globalisation and relationships between ideologies from the east and …

Samson Young

It’s Heaven Over There / Centre A / Vancouver / Feb 23 – Jun 4 / Justin Ramsey / When the Sun Wah Centre was constructed in the 1980s, it was envisioned as a neighbourhood mall for Vancouver’s Chinatown, the kind one might find all over Hong Kong: a fountain on the main floor, central escalators wending their way up through glitzy tiers of fashion and food. This never materialised. The building’s few vendors nestle in a near constant state of pink-walled disrepair. The setting is apt for Samson Young’s exhibition It’s Heaven Over There, curated by Tyler Russell at Centre A, which has recently moved into the Sun Wah Centre, alongside other arts organisations that are transforming this under-realised mall into a cultural hub. The first display in Young’s exhibition resembles a shopfront: blaring pop music, a glass case full of trinkets. It is an appropriate beginning to an exhibition focused on the mall itself. It’s Heaven Over There is the second in a trilogy of site-responsive exhibitions by Young that critique utopian projects and their fraught, often unexpected …

Ho Tzu Nyen

R for Rhombicuboctahedron, Vol. 8 / Edouard Malingue Gallery / Hong Kong / Mar 26 – May 17 / Caroline Ha Thuc / Humidity, corruption, nationalism, irrigation, rice, empire of decay. A for anarchism. Modern nepotism. K for kingship. To think through the effects of ghosts. F for fiction, fluidity, forest, friction, frontier. Across past and present. Southeast Asia is a machinery of rots. Jellyfish, Malaya, legibility, Utama, ecology, buffalo, politics, tigers, slavery. Theatrical acts of civil disobedience. V for vampires, vaginas. C for cosmology, circle, contagion. Acts of political vengeance. Becoming animal. N for nation, narration, narcosis. A triple agent from the Japanese, the French, the British. L for linguistic, legibility, Lai Teck. P for paddy, politics, plateau. Endlessly, an algorithm selects and weaves different sounds and images from the database of text, music and online images that forms Ho Tzy Nyen’s ongoing project The Critical Dictionary of Southeast Asia. It asks what Southeast Asia is, and how we can grasp such a concept, which is at once real and constructed. Language itself is inadequate at reflecting the region’s …

Liu Heung Shing

Spring Breeze / Star Gallery / Beijing / Mar 20 – May 18 / Nooshfar Afnan / A carefree rollerblader whizzes past a large statue of Chairman Mao at Dalian’s Institute of Technology in 1981. Like this one, each of the pictures in award-winning photographer Liu Heung Shing’s solo show Spring Breeze is a reminder of the enormous changes China has experienced since the “reform and opening up” that started in December 1978. For some audience members it is a trip down memory lane. For others it is a lesson in China’s recent history: Mao statutes were and often still are ubiquitous in public squares. Rollerskating was a popular pastime during an era of dire economic conditions, with wheels unceremoniously tied with strips of fabric around people’s shoes. The composition is engaging from a purely formal point of view, with the contrast between the solidity of the monument and the sprightly movement of the skater; and the juxtaposition of the dark shade of the figure with the light-hued statute. The black-and-white photographs on display were taken by Liu in …

Tung Wing Hong

Following the Imagined / CL3 Architects / Hong Kong / Mar 25 – Apr 26 / Christie Lee Hong Kong artist Tung Wing Long’s recent solo at CL3 Architects’ Wanchai office is a short but nevertheless sweet paean to the medium of video, where exciting things are happening right now, bolstered by new editing tools, the possibility of ever bigger screens and the general obsession with the immersive. The first thing the visitor sees on entering Following the Imagined is a video of a sleeping head. Inspired by Constantin Brâncuși’s The Sleeping Muse, Untitled (head) examines the idea of the medium itself. The term video art is often used interchangeably with the moving image; the piece questions whether a video needs to be moving for it to be considered video art. The eerie stillness of Untitled (head) is quickly disrupted by the spinning and whirling elsewhere. Immediately behind it, i/i is an installation of two CRT TVs that move in a continuous circular motion until at one point meeting before turning away. The two screens depict blurred views of a cityscape, though …

McArthur Binion

Hand: Work: II / Lehmann Maupin and Massimo de Carlo / Hong Kong / May 22 – July 6 / Diana d’Arenberg Parmanand / After decades of being overlooked, 73-year-old American artist McArthur Binion is having a moment. With a spate of recent exhibitions, notably his inclusion in the 2017 Venice Biennale Viva Arte Viva and a 2018 solo exhibition at the Cranbrook Art Museum in Detroit, this past month the artist has also celebrated the opening of several solo exhibitions in Asia. One at Lehmann Maupin Seoul was preceded by Hand:Work:II, a two-gallery show spread out across Massimo de Carlo and Lehmann Maupin in Hong Kong’s Pedder Building.  In the late 1970s Binion found himself at the centre of the dizzying, meteoric art scene in Soho, New York, hanging out with artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Dan Flavin and Sol LeWitt. Binion’s works are seemingly cut from the same mould as the two minimalist figureheads; they appear minimalist from a distance, but up close reveal themselves as something entirely different. Using oil stick, Binion draws vertical and horizontal lines in a grid over …

Various artists

Algorithmic Art: Shuffling Space and Time / Hong Kong City Hall / Dec 27 – Jan 10 / Valencia Tong / As I casually strolled into the dimly lit space of the group exhibition at City Hall, I considered a number of issues: the relationship between art and technology; how artists explore contemporary issues through the use of technology; whether machines can be creative – and whether machines that can think will threaten human existence. The sale of an art work generated by artificial intelligence at Christie’s in New York for almost US$500,000 sent shockwaves across the art world, as it tried to grapple with what the identity of an artist meant. So the exhibition Algorithmic Art: Shuffling Space and Time, curated by Hong Kong Arts Development Council 2017 Artist of the Year in Media Art Linda CH Lai, was a timely one. Coinciding with the exhibition, scholars and artists from around the world gathered at the School of Creative Media at the City University of Hong Kong, known for bridging art and science to foster creativity, for …

Marcel Dzama

Crossing the Line / David Zwirner / Hong Kong / Jan 22 – Mar 9 / Katherine Volk / If artists are historians of our times, Marcel Dzama represents the present. Canadian-born, New York-based Dzama references the contemporary climate in the US under Donald Trump’s presidency; this was paired with influences from elsewhere, in particular Hong Kong, for his recent show at David Zwirner, which spanned both floors of the gallery. Dzama departs dramatically from his earlier approach of sparse characters on plain paper, with his style morphing into colourful, large-scale works that are bold and chaotic but meaningful. The new approach was influenced by the work and looser approach to creation of his friend Raymond Pettibon, as well as Dzama’s time living in and visiting large cities such as New York and Hong Kong, and the vibrancy and crowded energy of these places. The neon lights of Hong Kong aren’t Dzama’s only inspiration; the city’s iconic horse racing also features as a prominent theme across multiple works, including Ghost riders (or Watch out he don’t fall on …

Danh Vō, Isamu Noguchi

Noguchi for Danh Vō: Counterpoint / M+ Pavilion / Hong Kong / Dec 27 – Jan 10 / Christine Chan Chiu / Noguchi for Danh Vō: Counterpoint, the eighth show staged at M+ Pavilion, brought together the diverse works of two artists, Danh Vō and the late Isamu Noguchi. The word “counterpoint” refers to the two artists’ works being independent but possessing the ability to be interdependent, creating a harmonious rapport when juxtaposed. The exhibition lived up to its musical metaphor and more, highlighting the talent and ingenuity of one artist while exploring the imaginative, multi-layered approach of the other. Inspired by a leitmotif in traditional Chinese ink painting, Vō’s Untitled (Structure for Akari PL2) (2018), modelled after a Chinese Dong pavilion, took centre stage in the main gallery. Flanked and illuminated by Noguchi’s famous Akari lamps, visitors were encouraged to sit and rest there. Parallels soon became clear between Vō’s pavilion and Noguchi’s lamps: both are made from wood (cedar and bamboo respectively), are affordable, easily dismantled and rebuilt, and most importantly stand alone as sculptures in their own right, redefining their surrounding spaces.  …