All posts filed under: Reviews

Trevor Yeung

The Darkroom That Is Not Dark Magician Space Beijing Dec 17, 2016 – Feb 26, 2017 Nooshfar Afnan Trevor Yeung has explored voyeurism since his earliest works, such as the Sleepy Bed series, in which he took photographs, without permission, of sleeping hostel roommates. But in his solo show he no longer focuses on photographic images of voyeuristic subjects; instead, fleeting glances immediately blur the lines between who is watching whom, as the audience uses an L-shaped, mirror-clad locker room at the entrance of the show. Artist Studio Party (2012), a digital projection work, continues this theme. Faced with the image of a couple embracing, audience members might feel they are intruding on an intimate moment, as did the artist when he took the photo, causing them to quickly move along the hall, past the image and into the next room. The work touches on the key Yeung theme of audience control, and throughout the show the audience is manipulated in its movement through the exhibition space, stopping, slowing down and kneeling, and is sometimes also manipulated …

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 …

Fabien Merelle

Étreindre Edouard Malingue Gallery Hong Kong Dec 9, 2016 – Jan 14, 2017 Caroline Ha Thuc The setting for this exhibition, of 10 ink and watercolour drawings and three sculptures by French artist Fabien Mérelle, is very sober, and there is enough empty space between each piece to get the imagination working. The drawings are meticulous, while the pale pink sculptures made from acrylic resin look pretty rough. Yet an unlikely balance and an interesting dialogue lend harmony to the whole gallery, dominated by a feeling of floating and emptiness. Étreindre, the title of the exhibition, means to embrace warmly. It also means to hold someone so tightly that there is precisely no space in between. The title comes from a drawing, at the end of the exhibition, of two almost nude men holding each other tightly. They are actually the models for the three sculptures, which represent them in a fragmented way, scattered all over the space: the legs to begin with, then the torsos and finally the heads, all life-size empty moulds. There is a strong …

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 …

Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo Qiang

Director: Kevin Macdonald Cast: Ian Buruma, Cai Guo Qiang, Cai Wen You, Cai Wen Hao, Ben Davis, Jeffrey Deitch, Phil Grucci, Thomas Krens, Tatsumi  Masatoshi, Orville Schell, Jennifer Wen Ma, Hong Hong Wu, Zhang Yimou US, 76 minutes By Margot Mottaz Connecting the Earth to the rest of the universe was Cai Guo Qiang’s childhood dream. When he finally realised it in 2015 after 20 years and three failed attempts, a majestic 500-metre ladder of gold light ascended into the night sky over the Huiyu Island harbour, not far from Cai’s hometown in Fujian province. A touching gift to his ailing 100-year-old grandmother, who watched the spectacle unfold on FaceTime, Sky Ladder is a striking metaphor for Cai’s artistic ambitions. The eponymous documentary, directed by Kevin Macdonald and produced by Wendi Murdoch, offers a captivating look into Cai’s life and work, heavily premised on the shock of the Cultural Revolution, which Cai experienced as a little boy, and his move to Japan and later New York. Narrated by the artist himself, his close friends and family, as well as prominent scholars of …

Julieta

Director: Pedro Almodóvar Cast: Adriana Ugarte, Emma Suárez, Daniel Grao Spain, 99 minutes Venue: General release By Elizabeth Kerr There are few non-ironic old-school formalists working in cinema today, and Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar continues to be the world’s most unabashed. An avowed fan of the lurid — in physical space, in theme and in his characters — Almodóvar has also never been one to shy away from pastiche. His latest, Julieta, based on the short stories Chance, Soon, and Silence from Canadian writer Alice Munro’s Runaway collection, blends Almodóvar’s hallmarks to somewhat middling effect taken as a whole. But he’s such an aesthete and so genuine in his storytelling that it’s easy to get caught up in his melodrama. Julieta is a classic, Firkin women’s picture, an outmoded and intensely mid-century form, but one Almodóvar has long given a modern veneer. The film builds a primary colour-coded portrait of Julieta (Adriana Ugarte in youth, Emma Suárez in middle age) as a young woman, daughter, wife, mother and widow. As a student, Julieta meets a dashing Galician fisherman, Xoan (Daniel Grao), …

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 …

Ho Sin Tung

Dusty Landscape Chambers Fine Art, Beijing, Sep 17 – Nov 20, 2016 By Nooshfar Afnan Visitors entering Ho Sin Tung’s exhibition at Chambers Fine Art in Beijing are confronted with posters like those hung outside Hong Kong cinemas. For the Hong Kong artist’s first solo show in mainland China, she has chosen two types of custom-made frames in a variety of colours to hold these posters and emphasise the idea that they advertise movies. On closer inspection, however, the posters, executed with coloured pencil on tea-stained paper, are revealed to promote fictional movies, mainly horror. For example When the Triangle Descends the Stairs (2016) pays homage to Hitchcock’s Psycho, including its famous shower scene, the large house and its stairwell. With her dry sense of humour, Ho replaces the murderer with a geometric form, a triangle, raising the question of fear of the unknown. “A horror film always reaches its climax and ending at the moment when the unknown reveals itself,” she says. “But what if a triangle descends the stairs? The unknown and the known will arrive at the …

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 …