All posts filed under: Reviews

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 …

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 …