All posts filed under: Reviews

Andrew Luk

Practice de Sarthe Gallery Hong Kong Sep 2 – 9, 2017 John Batten Andrew Luk’s short exhibition Practice was the culmination of the Hong Kong artist’s month-long summer residency at de Sarthe Gallery. Given a large section of the gallery to use as a working studio, Luk collected a range of material to produce mixed-media installation pieces, some directly integrating with different physical parts of the gallery. The result was an exhibition with a rawness that was embellished by the finished beauty of the wall-based pieces (his Horizon Scan and Catalyst Kit series), alongside experimentations that successfully moved from studio idea to resolved sculptural form. The main installation Black Square Problem Setting (we’re talking about practice) references Russian artist Kazimir Malevich’s minimal painting Black Square (1915), which, radically for the time, was free from all content. Malevich commented: “I transformed myself in the zero of form and emerged from nothing to creation, that is, to Suprematism, the new realism in painting, to non-objective creation.” Luk evolves Malevich’s idea, literally putting the audience back into the picture by building a functional …

Chris Huen Sin Kan

Of Humdrum Moments Pilar Corrias London 19 May – 17 Jun, 2017 Alex Quicho Hong Kong artist Chris Huen Sin Kan exhibited eight large paintings at London’s Pilar Corrias gallery, each dedicated to a fleeting everyday moment – moments that Huen believes are forgotten in the narrative of our everyday lives. These are drawings more than paintings: painted in oil, colours nonetheless appear as distinct, as if from a marker pen. As confidence underpins shakiness, something about Huen’s style seems purposely naive. Observing the convergence of so much movement to reveal unspoiled white ground raises questions about the mechanisms of his apparent spontaneity. Once undervalued, the snapshot finds itself prized today. From Wolfgang Tillmans to Juergen Teller, many artists have found the exalted in the in-between, fine-tuning our whittled attention spans to appreciate otherwise neglected details. In Huen’s work, the freeze-frame quality of mercurial surfaces – the water in a kiddie pool, the twist of dense foliage, a restless dog’s sudden gaze – hints at photographic reference material. The snap of a shutter seals an otherwise fleeting instance …

Angela Su

The Afterlife of Rosy Leavers Blindspot Gallery May 20 –  Jun 30, 2017 John Batten Among the first people to experiment with electronic synthesisers in the early 1970s were British band Curved Air. Their music captured the heady atmosphere of the era, while the cover of their 1972 album Phantasmagoria, drawn by prominent illustrator John Gorham, featured a long, curly title running from edge to edge, with a hooded figure in the background smoking a hookah. The album’s title was inspired by Lewis Carroll’s poem Phantasmagoria, meaning a fantastic sequence of haphazardly associative imagery. Carroll’s poem – the longest he ever wrote – is a comical, nonsensical conversation between a ghost and a Mr Tibbett. The ghost arrives intending to take up residence in Mr Tibbett’s home, but after a series of conversations and explanations of why he is there, eventually realises that he is at the wrong address; he should be at a Mr Tibb’s home. The poem reflects the Victorian era’s interest in the supernatural, the world of psychics and mediums who employed …

Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra

Concert Hall, Hong Kong Cultural Centre Apr 22, 2017 Ernest Wan Mahler’s Symphony No 6 constituted the bulk of this concert by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra with music director Jaap van Zweden – but the premiere of Conrad Tao’s swallow harbor that preceded it was just as interesting: a work inspired by Hong Kong is a rarity on the programmes of the city’s flagship ensemble. Born in Illinois to Chinese parents, the 22-year-old composer visits Hong Kong infrequently and, as he has said himself, his “portrait” of the city is based on his impressions during a short sojourn at the end of last year. Another influence, according to Tao, is Varèse’s early works, especially Amériques. In swallow harbor, there is no confluence, as one might expect, of western and eastern aesthetics à la Chou Wen-chung, a protégé of Varèse who is the grand dean of Chinese-American composers. Yet, sure enough, it employs a wide array of percussion instruments, begins with a sound incorporating a lion’s roar, from a friction drum, and abounds in fragmentary bursts of timbres and other explosive …

Do Ho Suh

Passage/s Lehmann Maupin Hong Kong Mar 20 – May 13, 2017 Margot Mottaz Every now and then you encounter an artist who resonates so deeply with you that they become a reference against which you assess all others. Do Ho Suh is one of them for me. I first discovered his work at his first Hong Kong solo exhibition, here at Lehmann Maupin, when his ongoing Specimen Series, small apartment fixtures and appliances replicated in translucent nylon, were displayed there in December 2013. Many artists tackle questions of home, displacement and personal space, but few do it with as much finesse, simplicity and beauty as Suh. Initially as a result of his move from his native South Korea to the US in the 1990s, his work seeks to apprehend the fundamental question of belonging and by extension identity. Now based in London with his family, his endeavour has remained the same but the premise has developed to include the complexity of fatherhood. His daughters played a key role in the creation of each work in …

Various artists

Soil and Stones, Souls and Songs Para Site Hong Kong Mar 18 – Jun 11, 2017 Caroline Ha Thuc The scope of this ambitious exhibition is very wide, in geography, in time and in the multiple issues that are addressed. Soil and Stones, Souls and Songs refers to the land as a physical territory but also as a receptacle for human memory, mythologies and history. Recent accelerated development in Asian countries has triggered deep and sometimes violent changes among people and also landscapes, leading to massive flows of migration, uprooting of longstanding traditions and land grabs, not to mention the depletion of natural resources. New ideologies and discourses are emerging from the urgent need to adapt to this new context, from nationalism to historical revisionism and critical alternatives to dominant Western ways of thinking. In their curatorial statement for Soil and Stones, Souls and Songs, Cosmin Costinas and Into Guerrero highlight the global feeling of anxiety that also dominates Asian societies today, and underline the general loss of certainty and the violence generated by this shifting geopolitical order. Soil is the fabric of a nation, and dealing with soil inevitably leads to boundaries …

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 …

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 …

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 …