All posts tagged: Diana d’Arenberg Parmanand

Robert Rauschenberg

Vydocks Pace Gallery Hong Kong Sep 19 – Nov 2 Diana d’Arenberg Parmanand The “enfant terrible of the New York school”, as poet Frank O’Hara dubbed Robert Rauschenberg, reshaped 20th-century American art and left behind a boundary-breaking body of work characterised by experimentation and unorthodox use of different media. His early works, made in the 1950s and 60s, featured composites of found objects – bottles, a taxidermy goat head, newspapers, chairs, rubber tyres, photographs – and painting; Rauschenberg referred to them as “combines”. The Vydocks series, created in 1995, are essentially a two-dimensional continuation of the composites of found objects for which the artist was known. The lastseries in which Rauschenberg incorporated silk-screening before shifting into digital processing, the works are a rendezvous of diverse media, a synthesis of painting, photography and drawing. Pace Gallery Hong Kong features eight out of 13 identically sized white sheets of bonded aluminium works – the remainder are still held by the Rauschenberg foundation – sized to human scale so the panels are the height and width of a person’s reach, and the viewer can figuratively get into the paintings. The verticality of …

Gert & Uwe Tobias

By Diana d’Arenberg Parmanand During the Ottoman invasion of Wallachia in 1462, Sultan Mehmed II, who had marched into the territory with an army of more than 150,000 troops, entered the small town of Târgoviște in what is today Romania to find a forest of 20,000 Turkish men, women and children, all impaled. The perpetrator: Voivode Vlad III Dracula. The carnage earned the ruler the moniker Vlad “Tepes”, or the Impaler, among the local population. A little further afield in England, his numerous acts of heinous cruelty, and his patronymic, would inspire the creation of Irish writer Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula. They also sowed the seeds of inspiration for the work of identical twin brothers and artistic collaborators Gert and Uwe Tobias. Born in Transylvania, Romania to a Saxon family, the artists explore their cultural identity through mythology in their woodblock print paintings, ceramic sculptures, typewriter drawings and watercolours. Having spent their childhood under Nicolae Ceaușescu’s rule, the myths and misconceptions of Vlad Dracul, as he is known in Romania, did not initially colour their youth. There …

Catherine Opie

By Diana d’Arenberg Parmanand American photographer Catherine Opie once described herself as a “kind of twisted social documentary photographer”. Born in Sandusky, Ohio, the young Opie picked up a camera at age nine, inspired by the photographs of Lewis Hine, and immediately began photographing friends and her community. Over several decades she has gone from marginalised photographer of the marginalised to a member of the establishment: she had a 2009 retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, is a tenured professor at UCLA and sits on the boards of the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Like Walker Evans before her, and later Robert Mapplethorpe and Diane Arbus, Opie shares an interest in and affection for subcultures, and for individuals and communities overlooked by society. Her early series Being and Having (1991) and Portraits (1993-97) mixed traditional portrait photography with less traditional subjects, depicting her friends in the lesbian and gay community in Los Angeles, transgender women and men, drag queens, and members of the tatted, …

Wolfgang Tillmans

By Diana d’Arenberg Parmanand Although his photographs had graced the pages of magazines like iD and Interview magazine, for a couple of decades it was at nightclub Berghain’s Panorama Bar in Berlin that the work of Wolfgang Tillmans really seared itself on my mind. The work in question, Phillip III (1993), depicted a man exposing his anus with his hand. The Panorama Bar, known for its hedonism, where music, dance and sex dissolve into one another and clubbers can party the night away with complete abandon and without judgement, was the perfect venue for his work. What struck me wasn’t that the work was confrontational or provocative – Robert Mapplethorpe paved the way for works of this nature in the late 1970s and 80s, drawing the sting from homoerotic art. Instead it was the unapologetic directness of the work, the raw honesty and frankness of it, that impressed me most. Throughout his three-decade career photographing a diversity of subjects, Tillmans’ has demonstrated a commitment to exploring and depicting truth, blurring the boundaries between art and documentary photography. Music and clubbing …

Rachel Kneebone

Ovid in Exile By Diana d’Arenberg Parmanand British sculptor Rachel Kneebone forges the human condition out of clay. The great meta-narratives of humanity – creation and destruction, life and death, renewal, love, suffering, heaven and hell, the limitations and possibilities of the human body – are all tackled in her sculptures. It is a biblical, monumental endeavour. Aptly named, Kneebone creates architectural structures of white porcelain resembling towers or sculpture-like crypts of small bones, or tangles of roots or vines. The violent entanglement of limbs might be ripped straight out of Dante’s Inferno. She turned porcelain – a material associated with the decorative figurines and tea sets of the bourgeoisie – into the boundary-defying installation 399 Days at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London this year. The colossal sculpture, her largest to date, is a towering, epic explosion of limbs, flowers, spheres and genitalia. Fragments of the human body are intertwined, clambering and cascading down. They recall Rodin’s The Gates of Hell – her work was exhibited alongside the artist’s in 2012 at the Brooklyn Museum – or an erotic Tower of Babel, …

Samson Young

Songs for Disaster Relief Venice Biennale 2017 May 13 – Nov 26, 2017 Diana d’Arenberg Parmanand With over a decade of practice, artist Samson Young has made audiences question and examine their relationship to sound and music, and their relationship to history, politics and identity through sound. Young is a product of a certain time and place. Born in 1979 in Hong Kong, he grew up under British colonial rule in the city, and moved with his family to Sydney after the handover to China in 1997, fearing the worst of Chinese rule in Hong Kong less than a decade after the Tiananmen Square massacre. In the 20 years since the handover, the people of Hong Kong have constantly reassessed what it means to be a Hongkonger, and are undergoing the self-scrutiny of a nation whose identity is in flux. Trained in classical music composition, and generally described as a sound artist, Young has explored the relationship between mainland China and Hong Kong by recording sounds in the border area separating the two, arranging them into sonic compositions and then transcribing them in graphic …

Howard Hodgkin

In the Pink Gagosian Gallery Hong Kong Jan 19 – Mar 11, 2017 By Diana d’Arenberg Parmanand I never interviewed Howard Hodgkin, who passed away on March 9 aged 84. The artist didn’t like to talk about his paintings, or attempt to explain them into relevance, although for the purpose of this review I’m going to do just that. Hodgkin’s paintings aren’t about narrative or words. He didn’t paint figuratively, nor was his work grounded in the conceptual or the ideological. What he did was more transcendent. He brought the interior world of memory and emotion to life with colour, making that which can’t be articulated tangible and physical through paint. One of the UK’s most celebrated painters, Hodgkin’s career spanned 50 years and included winning the Turner Prize in 1985 and representing Britain at the 1984 Venice Biennale. But In the Pink, his first and only exhibition at Gagosian Hong Kong, from January 19 to March 11 – featuring 23 paintings, mostly small in size, that play with varied formal elements – was suggestive …

Marco Brambilla

Theater Simon Lee Gallery Hong Kong, Sep 9 – Oct  4, 2016 By Diana d’Arenberg Parmanand The merry-go-round symphony of Prokofiev’s Cinderella Waltz sweeps you up into a dizzying vortex of imagery. Fragments of Hollywood films – culled from the The Sound of Music, The Big Lebowski, Eyes Wide Shut, the Austin Powers films, The Terminator and more than 400 others – dance past in a frenetic choreographed collage of totemic tableaux depicting heaven and hell. Good and evil are informed by popular culture: a horned red devil and a fire-and-brimstone orgy of naked bodies writhing atop one another versus fluffy kittens, unicorns and Julie Andrews. You are still and weightless, floating in the middle of it all like an astronaut, watching the imagery orbit around you in a repetitive cycle that recalls Dante’s Divine Comedy juxtaposed with Charles and Ray Eames’ films Powers of Ten. This is Marco Brambilla’s Creation (2012), a four-minute virtual-reality spectacle. Visual whiplash is guaranteed. Virtual reality takes us beyond the confines of the television screen and right into that screen, broadening our sensory engagement with …

Danh Vō

Solo show. White Cube, Hong Kong, Sep 7 – Nov 12, 2016 By Diana d’Arenberg Parmanand What do demonic possession, Pleistocene mammoth bones, a crusader sword and a Budweiser carton have in common? On first appearances, nothing at all. By installing them across two floors in White Cube Gallery, Vietnamese-Danish artist Danh Vō seems to be playing a practical joke on his audience. On the ground floor sits the installation Lick me, Lick me – a quote from the film The Exorcist (1973) – comprising a fragment of a Roman marble sculpture from the first century AD placed atop a modern refrigerator encasing a French wooden sculpture of Christ from the 16th century. Several metres away, on the floor against the wall, is a gold-leafed Budweiser carton. It looks like forgotten debris from a gallery cocktail party, but peering inside reveals gold fragments of the stars and stripes. A handwritten letter by 19th-century French missionary Jean Theophane Vénard – copied expertly in beautiful calligraphy by Vo’s father – hangs at the bottom of a staircase. Vénard was sent to Vietnam …

Wang Zhibo

There is a place with four suns in the sky – red, white, blue and yellow at Edouard Malingue Gallery Aug 24  – Sep 14, 2016 By Diana d’Arenberg Parmanand The disembodied head of Mickey Mouse floats before the striated background of a canvas alongside the head of a putto and several archeological finds. But Wang Zhibo isn’t another Chinese contemporary artist dredging up western iconography in an attempt at ironic kitsch. We’ve moved on from the Maos and the Marilyns and Mickeys, haven’t we? Let your eyes move across the canvases of the dozen paintings hung around Edouard Malingue Gallery and a more sinister narrative emerges. Part of China’s post-’80s generation, Wang gained attention for her unreal, isolated, dystopian landscapes, denuded of humanity. This time, in There is a place with four suns in the sky – red, white, blue and yellow, a title borrowed from Carl Sagan’s 1973 book The Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective, there are figures everywhere, but they are disembodied, decapitated, their faces obscured, juxtaposed with incongruent images. The paintings flit …