All posts tagged: Elliat Albrecht

Bedroom

By Elliat Albrecht Conceived by American psychologist Abraham Maslow in 1943, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is one of the mainstays of popular psychology. The pyramid-shaped chart arranges human needs in order of necessity: at the bottom of the pyramid sit basic physical needs such as shelter, food and water, and stacked above are less tangible entities such as safety, belonging and love, esteem and, at the pinnacle, self-actualisation. For Maslow, each tier must be satisfied before the next can be achieved. A similar system could be sketched for the development of a healthy art ecosystem. Needs such as funding, physical space, community support, and political and creative freedom must be met to build a robust art scene that gives artists meaningful opportunities. Such a scene requires a diversity of exhibition spaces, including commercial galleries, museums and non-profit, alternative galleries. But in Hong Kong, where space is at a premium and government funding is lacking, the most visible institutions are often the most commercially viable. Take for example the recent influx of hyper-professionalised, international, blue-chip galleries that tend to deal in canonical luxury objects …

Chris Huen Sin Kan

By Elliat Albrecht As a painter and in person, Chris Huen Sin Kan is far beyond his years. His intuitive paintings look less like those of a 27-year-old and more like those of an artist who’s had several decades to hone his visual language, arriving at a mature and idiosyncratic style of painting. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Huen has been drawing since he was a small child, and earned a BA from The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). Made with fluid and sometimes staccato brushstrokes, his paintings are characterised by their quotidian content and sketch-like quality; Huen achieves this aesthetic in part by thinning down his oils with turpentine until they appear almost like watercolours. The bare canvas shows through in many places on his paintings; the viewer is left to fill in the blanks of negative space like a word game. These gaps in perception are fundamental to Huen’s philosophy: rather than painting direct representations or his memories, he is concerned with exploring the fragmented experience of looking. With a restrained …

Tai Kwun

By Elliat Albrecht Hong Kong has a soft spot for crime and police stories. Films about gangs, double agents and bloody conflicts have long been a mainstay of local cinema. There is an underlying psychological reason: a surge of public interest in the genre occurred in the 1980s, coinciding with the UK and China’s negotiations over the 1997 handover. Amid anxiety about the political future, the movies often depicted the goings-on of crime syndicates and their clashes with authority to explore themes of loyalty, heroism and chaos. This blue-coat fascination laid the foundation for some of the most significant pop culture of the 1980s – and continues to provide inspiration today, in the form of the city’s newest cultural institution. While Hong Kong awaits the opening of M+, its much-anticipated major museum of visual culture, the recently opened Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage & Arts is poised to tick the mid-size museum box. Built on a historical site, the 19th-century Central Police Station compound on Hollywood Road, Tai Kwun has an unusual cross-disciplinary remit. The …

Chow Chun Fai

By Elliat Albrecht I want my identity back, China is not ruled by Chinese anyway, History can be changed, Our city changed irrevocably and You think a Hong Kong triad can outlive a Mainland businessmen? make up a few of the subtitles of the paintings of film stills for which artist Chow Chun Fai is known. Chow’s politics are hardly concealed in these works, for which he skilfully recreates mises-en-scene from Hong Kong and mainland Chinese films, including snippets of dialogue that allude to aspects of the Sino-Hong Kong relationship. Isolated, removed and rendered in paint, the subtitles lay bare their connotations of authority, nationalism, localism and fear, ringing in the ears and revealing the filmic medium as an expression of both social concern and soft power. Active in performance, Chow is also chairman of the Fotanian Artist Village. Five years ago he made an unsuccessful run in the Hong Kong Legislative Council election in the Sports, Performing Arts, Culture and Publication constituency. His works were recently on view in Tale of the Wonderland at Blindspot Gallery (September 19 to November 11, 2017), a group exhibition that constructs …

Howie Tsui

Retainers of Anarchy By Elliat Albrecht There was a time when lawlessness was king and opposing forces lived, plotted, colluded and fought out their differences without the intervention of authorities. Virtue was valued but bravery and resourcefulness were crucial above all else. Such an anarchic atmosphere was characteristic of both the now-levelled Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong and the stories of wuxia, known in Cantonese as mou hap, a genre of fiction centred around martial-arts figures in ancient China. Hong Kong-born, Vancouver-based artist Howie Tsui drew from both for his solo exhibition Retainers of Anarchy at the Vancouver Art Gallery. His was one of three presentations in Vancouver by Hong Kong artists that marked the approach of the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from the UK to China in 1997; in addition, the Vancouver Art Gallery also hosted group show Pacific Crossings: Hong Kong  Artists in Vancouver, and Tsang Kin-Wah presented three public works around the city. The centrepiece of the exhibition was the eponymous Retainers of Anarchy (2017), a 25-metre-long digitally animated scroll …

David Lam, Carrie Koo, Paul Chu, Josh Hon

Pacific Crossings: Hong Kong  Artists in Vancouver Vancouver Art Gallery Mar 4 – May 28, 2017 Elliat Albrecht Pacific Crossings: Hong Kong Artists in Vancouver (March 4–May 28) was one of three exhibitions organised by the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) this year to mark the 20th anniversary of the territory’s handover from the UK to China in 1997. Presented on half a floor of the gallery, an authoritative-looking former courthouse in the centre of the city, the exhibition was staged by the VAG’s Institute of Asian Art and comprised archival documents and art works by Paul Chui, Josh Hon, Carrie Koo and David Lam, who all emigrated from Hong Kong to Vancouver during the uncertain years leading up to the handover. Curator Diana Freundl positioned the show in the catalogue as illustrating the early stages of abstract and modern landscape painting in Hong Kong in the 1960s, as well as the performance and installation art of the 1980s. Freundl argued that with the growth of globalisation and commercialisation in the second half of the 20th century, Hong Kong’s artistic developments matched …

Matjaž Tančič

3DPRK  Pékin Fine Arts Hong Kong Nov 19, 2016 – Jan 31, 2017 Elliat Albrecht Apparently some North Korean officials harbour a fondness for 3D photography. That, at least, is the explanation given for Slovenian photographer Matjaž Tančič gaining access to the notoriously secretive, restrictive country in 2014 to take stereoscopic photographs of its citizens — images that were recently displayed in the exhibition 3DPRK at Pékin Fine Arts in Wong Chuk Hang. Tančič obtained permission through a contact to take photographs for a temporary exhibition in Pyongyang, which later travelled to Pékin Fine Arts in Beijing and then to Hong Kong. The photographs, which include images of waitresses, shop clerks, factory workers, athletes, nurses and farmers, were shown in the gallery alongside a video documenting Tančič’s 10-day trip. He was accompanied by two local guides as he documented ordinary people in restaurants, hospitals, laboratories, factories and “children’s palaces” – community centres for extracurricular activities. Adhering to a strict, breakneck schedule punctuated with requisite museum visits, Tančič managed to capture some captivating, albeit highly structured and …

Wang Du

Post-Fetishism  Tang Contemporary, Hong Kong, Oct 1 – 29, 2016 By Elliat Albrecht At first glance they can make you blush. The fleshy, carnal texture of Wang Du’s works at Tang Contemporary is at once erotic and almost repulsive, like seeing the back of a stranger’s thighs up close. For his exhibition Post-Fetishism, the Chinese artist presents five recent charcoal drawings surrounded by pale silica frames implanted with thousands of individual synthetic hairs. The large-scale pictures are close-up views of contemporary fetishised objects: Apple headphones, stylish sunglasses, a cork from a 2004 French wine, a cigar cutter depicted in such large scale that it resembles a guillotine. On the floor are models of a child-size car, a Rimowa suitcase, a wonky skyscraper and an AK-47 made of a peach-coloured gel that gallerist Shasha Tittmann described as “similar to that of breast implants”, each as whiskered as the picture frames on the wall. They look as if they would wobble and shake if pushed. The works are numbered rather than named to draw attention away from the objects’ original functions. Born in 1956 …