To coincide with Art Basel 2019, which opens to the public from 13 to 16 June, galleries and institutions across the city are presenting a range of stellar exhibitions. From Rebecca Horn at Museum Tinguely to Geumhyung Jeong at Kunsthalle Basel, here is a selection of what to see.William Kentridge, Dead Remus (2014–2016). Charcoal on found ledger…
In 2012, Melati Suryodarmo opened Studio Plesungan in her native Surakarta, also known as Solo, the historic royal capital of the Mataram Empire of Java in Indonesia. Suryodarmo had returned to Indonesia from Germany, where she studied Butoh and choreography with Butoh dancer and choreographer Anzu Furukawa, time-based media with avantgarde…
The longest-running survey of American art, the 79th instalment of the Whitney Biennial (17 May–22 September 2019) is driven by a collective sentiment of sociopolitical consciousness. Curated by Whitney staff curators Jane Panetta and Rujeko Hockley, the exhibition draws on the work of 75 artists and collectives working in the United States. On…
Norberto Roldan, Incantations in the land of virgins, monsters, sorcerers and angry gods (1999–2019). Exhibition view: Unfolding: Fabric of Our Life, Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textiles, The Mills (17 March–30 June 2019). Courtesy Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textiles.
For those visiting during Art Basel in Hong Kong (29–31 March 2019), the smell of fresh paint may still be in the air at the latest heritage conservation project, The Mills, which opened on 16 March to encompass the Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textiles (CHAT), joining the ranks with ex-prison complex Tai Kwun, along with Eaton HK—a retro fitted hotel and workspace, rooted in grassroots activism with a programme defined by the city’s makers and shakers. Find out what is currently making Hong Kong tick with this guide of exhibitions to see.
Form Colour Action: Sketchbooks and Notebooks of Lee WenAsia Art Archive, 11/F Hollywood Centre, 233 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan13 March–29 June 2019
Late performance artist Lee Wen was born in Singapore in 1957—a soon-to-be independent republic that had lurched from a British colony and briefly merged with Malaysia, with a cultural makeup defined by waves of migrants that arrived through the 19th century from India, China, the Malay Archipelago, and further afield. Lee’s practice embodied these shifts. His renowned cycle of ‘Yellow Man’ performances (1992–2012) began when he was studying at City College of London Polytechnic between 1990 and 1992, when he was often mistaken as Mainland Chinese. Covering his body in yellow poster paint, the artist constructed a performance persona that targeted racial stereotyping, expanding its meanings upon its many international iterations to encompass issues of freedom, climate change, and religious traditions, among others. Its worldwide presentations took place while Singapore effectively cut funding for performance art for a decade after a controversial performance by Josef Ng in 1994, just a year after ‘Yellow Man’s first appearance in the country.
Lee Wen’s body’s agency was not only enacted through his art, but also through a profusion of social initiatives, from his engagement with The Artists Village to the international performance collective Black Market International, along with his founding of the Future of Imagination in 2003—an event created to test the freshly lifted restrictions on performance art. From the start, drawing and painting remained key conduits for Lee Wen, representing the ultimate time-based medium. At Asia Art Archive, an exhibition of the artist’s drawings, notes, and paintings from between 1978 and 2014 provide insight into the foundations of a practice that changed performance art in Asia.
Lam Tung Pang: Saan Dung GeiBlindspot Gallery, 15/F, Po Chai Industrial Building, 28 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang26 March–11 May 2019
Hong Kong’s accelerated urbanism embodies the drastic socio-political shifts it has witnessed in recent decades. Born in 1978, Lam Tung Pang can testify to these changes, and is one of many of the region’s artists who look to the urban landscape to distil a sense of uncertainty for Hong Kong’s future. Lam’s surrounding environment spills out onto large-scale paintings and drawings on plywood that comment on the destruction of the natural world and socio-political upheavals, using unconventional pairings such as charcoal and acrylic to create expansive, imaginary worlds. For Lam’s first exhibition at Blindspot Gallery, a series of new works created between 2018 and 2019 come together as a non-linear narrative of a wandering individual named ‘Eye’, whose journey follows the search, and subsequent loss of a manuscript. A sense of fleetingness and unknowing underlines this quest, which came to Lam as he was moving through a dark tunnel on his first journey aboard the new high-speed railway that connects Hong Kong with Shenzhen and Guangzhou, whereupon he was met with a ‘vision of anxiety and social unrest’.
The opening for the exhibition will take place on 23 March 2019, with a conversation between the show’s curator, U.S.-based culture worker Abby Chan, and Dr Alpesh Kantilal Patel, a visiting scholar at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University and associate professor of contemporary art and theory at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami.
Unfolding: Fabric of Our LifeCentre for Heritage, Arts and Textile (CHAT), The Mills, 45 Pak Tin Par Street, Tsuen Wan17 March–30 June 2019
16 March 2019 saw the long-anticipated opening of the Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile (CHAT)—part of the heritage conservation project of Nan Fung Cotton Mills, a building that belonged to the city’s once-thriving textile industry. The inaugural exhibition, Unfolding: Fabric of Our Life, presents works and performances by 17 artists and collectives from across the Asia Pacific region—including Dayanita Singh, Norberto Roldan, and Aoyama Satoru—who reveal the ‘faded facts in modern history’ through textiles. Socio-political agendas, and personal and collective experiences are unveiled through these humanist works. Alma Quinto’s soft sculptures and textile books, for instance, are the result of her three-month residency at CHAT, during which she collaborated with Filipino domestic workers, inviting them to render stitched visualisations of their personal lives. CHAT’s location was activated through an installation by Sabah-based collective, Pangrok Sulap, who collaborated with The Mills’ surrounding community to create flags with woodblock prints.
An Opera for AnimalsPara Site, 22/F, Wing Wah Industrial Building, 677 King’s Road, Quarry Bay15 March–1 June 2019
Para Site’s new group exhibition—including Lawrence Lek, Samson Young, Haegue Yang, and Robert Zhao Renhui, among others—draws parallels between classical opera and the modern condition. The world is seen through the theatrical lens, at times entering dark episodes, as in the 30-minute video Dog Luv (2009) by Romanian artist Ciprian Muresan, in which four shady canine characters congregate to discuss the limits of non-humanity, beginning with an overview of torture methods. The ‘operatic environment’ that this exhibition underlines is based on ‘conflicts of staging, controlling, hiding, and repressing’—products of Western opera that reflect the world as we know it. The exhibition marks the beginning of a collaboration between Para Site and Shanghai’s Rockbund Art Museum, which will culminate with two related exhibitions between 22 June and 25 August 2019 at Rockbund Art Museum, and between September and December 2019 at Para Site.
This exhibition features site-specific works created by Leung Chi Wo (Scratching On The Surface), Zheng Bo (YOU ARE THE 0.01%), and MAP Office (Ghost Island),which respond to the context of the Grade II listed building in which Oi! Street Art Space is housed. This former Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, built on the waterfront in 1908, is the only structure that remains of the former North Point coastline, which has since transformed since reclamantion that took place in the 1930s. The artist’s reflect on the site’s relationship to the water’s shifting edge—an extension of Oi! Street Art Space’s own engagement with this legacy throughout its history. The result is a moving and multi-polar portrait of city whose history is tied to the sea as both a metaphor and physical reminder. Theexhibition is presented both within the galleries and in the outdoor spaces of the complex.
Tishan Hsu: deleteEmpty Gallery, 19/F, Grand Marine Center, 3 Yue Fung St, Tin Wan26 March–25 May 2019
Tishan Hsu’s anthropomorphic paintings were the stuff of befuddlement and intrigue in the 1980s, when they first entered the public eye. Keeping ahead of your time pays off in the long run, however. The prescience of Hsu’s practice has been brought to light in recent shows, including Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s at Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (14 February–13 May 2018), followed by Empty Gallery’s showcase of his work at the Armory Show later that year. For delete, the artist presents paintings from his ‘Shanghai project’—a personal endeavour that he embarked on after the death of his mother in 2012, which led to an enquiry into his Chinese family history. Basing himself in Shanghai, where he held a studio between 2013 and 2016, the artist dug through photo albums, selecting images that had not been lost to the Red Guards for their hints of bourgeoisie. Those that the artist managed to salvage have been printed onto stainless steel and warped and obscured with a layer of latex—a visual manifestation of the fleetingness of memories whilst recalling the post-industrial substance of his early work.
German artist Jorinde Voigt puts to paper the inexplicable. During her studies of literature and philosophy at Göttingen’s Georg-August-Universität in 1997, the artist made sense of ideas that she learned through diagrams, ultimately visualising the slippages of language. Upon continuing her studies in art at the Visual Culture Studies School in Berlin and at the Royal College of Art in London, the artist continued to develop her drawing as a practice of map-making; constructing organic, scientific-looking forms that spill across the page like an avantgarde musical score. ‘My work is like music,’ she says. ‘You can enjoy it without being able to read the score.’ Indeed, looking at these large expanses of jiving forms and colours is best enjoyed when switching off one’s analytical mind and letting associations reign free. In collaboration with KÖNIG GALERIE, the artist’s first solo exhibition in Hong Kong will take place at McNamara Art Projects with a selection of significant works on paper from the past three years.
Infinitive MutabilityAxel Vervoordt Gallery, 21/F, Coda Designer Centre 62, Wong Chuk Hang Road25 March–1 June 2019
Axel Vervoordt Gallery moves from its Central space to an 8,000-square-foot gallery in Wong Chuk Hang this March, marking a new chapter of larger curated shows and a greater roster of artists. The gallery’s inaugural exhibition, Infinitive Mutability, draws together works by Peter Buggenhout, Kimsooja, and Bosco Sodi to contemplate Jacques Derrida’s concept of deconstruction to highlight the unending interpretations that can arise with each new reading of a work of art. Belgian artist Peter Buggenhout, who recently joined the gallery, is renowned for his amorphous sculptural installations constructed from found and industrial materials that appear to be in a state of simultaneous ruination and becoming. A series of these abject forms will be on view at the gallery, along with textiles by Kimsooja that reflecton nomadism and migration. The result is a show that offers room for mental wanderings. The second floor of the new gallery will present a selection of works by artists that define Axel Vervoordt Gallery’s roster, including master works from Gutai and Dansaekhwa artists, along with contemporary artists such as El Anatsui and Shozo Shimamoto. This selection will rotate throughout the year, presented ‘as a large and convivial cabinet’.
Designed by New York-based AvroKO and founded by Katharine Lo, Eaton HK opened in September 2018 as a hub for progressive change, weaving a workspace, music room, in-house radio station, and sleek bar, around a 465-room hotel. The establishment will play host to a three-day audiovisual extravaganza between 28 and 31 March 2019, beginning with a ‘Dreamrave’ at 7pm on 28 March 2019. Taking the form of an immersive transmedia installation, a performance by new media artist Adrian Yu and Ian Glover, along with sound artist Danny L Harle, will replicate the sleep cycle in five acts, culminating in the final and most vivid chapter of dreams—REM. DJ sets, workshops, and performances will ripple through theweekend, alongside an exhibition of work by VVzela Kook in Eaton HK’s gallery, Tomorrow Maybe, titled Fragrant Little Heaven, which will conjure ‘Hong Kong’s fragrant harbour of the past’ through installation, video, and children’s pop-up books that explore the city’sChinese name. The title of the exhibition is taken from a description made by British civil servant and historian Geoffrey Robley Sayer, and harks back to Hong Kong’s pre-colonial times, as a hub of transport for agarwood, a fragrant wood used for incense and medicine. Bridging Hong Kong’s past with its hyper-urban present, this exhibition provides a journey through time and space.
Yeh Shih-Chiang: Edge of Sea and SkyHanart TZ Gallery, 401 Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central22 March–4 May 2019
After a standout solo show of the artist’s work at their booth at the inaugural Taipei Dangdai (18–20 January 2019), Hanart TZ Gallery will feature over 30 oil paintings by late Taiwanese artist Yeh Shih-Chiangin Hong Kong. Born in Guangdong in 1926, the artist studied at the Guangdong Academy of Art before arriving in Taiwan in 1949 where he lived a reclusive existence in his home only reachable by boat. Hanart TZ Gallery’s founding director, Johnson Chang,has a long-term but unusual relationship with the artist. A brief visit to Yeh Shi-Chiang’s studio in the late 1980s left a strong impression on both, yet no correspondence between the two occurred until the artist’s widow discovered a note a year after his death in 2012, instructing that Johnson Chang be in charge of curating his works. Having remained in relative obscurity throughout his life, the first major retrospective of Yeh Shih-Chiang’s painting occurred in 2015, arranged by Chang at Hong Kong Arts Centre, followed by a presentation at Hanart TZ Gallery in 2016. _Edge of Sea and Sky_offers another opportunity to experience the artist’s iconoclastic practice, which purposefully fringed the rise of modernist art movementsin China in the 1950s to create a highly personal approach to painting defined by expressive brushstrokes of subtle forms and planes.
Heimo ZobernigSimon Lee Gallery, 3/F The Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central26 March–10 May 2019
A background in staging and set design began Austrian artist Heimo Zobernig’s practice as a master of space. His paintings, architectural interventions, sculpture, films, videos, and performances initiate new approaches to re-thinking the elements of modernist painting, such as colour theory, the grid, the monochrome, and geometric abstraction. At the 56th Venice Biennale, Zobernig reduced the classical architecture ofthe pavilion to a pared down monochrome space devoid of detail, totallyantithetical to the visual chaos of Venice, even without its Biennale. Adevotion to the aesthetic grammar of modernism involves continuous dialogue with art history, which is encapsulated in the artist’s upcoming exhibition at Simon Lee Gallery. Formalist enquiries through painting involve references to some of art history’s most pertinent imagery, including Pablo Picasso’s version of Le Dejeuner sur l’Herbe,along with the landscape paintings of Gustav Klimt and the backgrounds of paintings by Manet, pushing the limitations of space and composition in each instance.
Yoan Capote: Territorial WatersBen Brown Fine Arts, 303 Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central26 March–17 May 2019
Yoan Capote understands the latent power of materials. Taking the dramatic changes of his home country, Cuba, as his starting point, the artist creates concise manifestations of universal psychological states. The ocean frequently finds itself in his works, an appearance he explains evolved from when he was growing up and would look ‘to the horizon and imagine the world beyond. The sea represents the seductiveness of these dreams, but at the same time the danger and isolation.’ The ocean takes further importance in its surrounding of a long-isolated republic, as manifestedin the UNESCO prize-winning installation 1, 2, 3 Testing, in which 100 oversize cast-iron microphones mimicking those used by politicians to address the people, were placed along the ridge of El Morro fortress, facing out towards the sea. The ocean appears once more in Capote’s first solo show in Hong Kong, for which a selection of ‘fishhook paintings’ from his ‘Isla’ series will be mounted along the walls, the horizon line of each matching up to create a vista of the seaand sky. On either side of this line lies a thick, impastoed expanse ranging from red to midnight blue to depict the sky, while underneath a dark ocean is constructed through thousands of tiny fishhooks piercing the surface of the canvas.
What is sculpture to Erwin Wurm? From a pickle on a pedestal, to his ‘fat sculptures’ of bulbous cars and houses to criticise consumerist society,one thing for certain is that the absurd is often in tow. The artist represented Austria at the 57th Venice Biennale alongside Brigitte Kowanz, where he presented his iconic ‘One Minute Sculptures’, exactly 20 years after he incepted the series. An interactive work, ‘One-Minute Sculptures’ involves household objects that the audience is invited to engage with in an original pose to question themes of authorship, temporality, and the relationship between the subject and the object. After the photo-friendly work’s success at Art Basel in Hong Kong last year, as part of the Installations sector, the series returns for a fullmonth at Lehmann Maupin, where viewers can obtain a Polaroid picture oftheir pose. The body is ever-present in Wurm’s work, whether it is through one’s own involvement, or through more explicit associations such as his cast metal sculptures of sausages with human features in his’Abstract Sculptures’ series.
The swollen art market and the complexities of accelerated globalism are the playthings of Xu Zhen, whose dark humour manifests in outlandish installations, performances, video works, and interventions. Since 2009,the artist has operated under MadeIn—an ‘art creation company’ that subsequently launched the brand Xu Zhen, for which the artist effectively became a product. Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale on30 September 2018 included the artist’s fully-stocked Xuzhen Supermarket,which mimicked the Western-style minimarts that have sprouted across China since the 1980s. Complete with a full cash register, the empty products in the supermarket are continuously restocked—commentary on theemptiness of mass consumption, and of the art market as a whole. Vapidity prevails in the artist’s ‘Under Heaven’ series—lavish abstractions of pigments ejected onto the canvas through cream piping bags. For his third solo show with Perrotin, Xu Zhen; continues the series in resplendent gold, along with sculptures and installations thatcapture the long-running themes of his practice.
The art world has a penchant for the uncanny. Such a fact rang true with the international museum craze for Patricia Piccinini’s chimera figures made from silicone, fibreglass, and human hair, which roamed South America for a solo exhibition that accumulated over 1 million in attendance between 2015 and 2016. The new head and bust sculptures of Canadian artist David Altmejd that will show at White Cube during Art Basel in Hong Kong have a similar strain of strange. ‘A perfect object for me’, states the artist, ‘is something that is extremely seductive and extremely repulsive at the same time’. Magic meets science in these new works that mark the gallery’s official representation of the artist. In Crystal System (2019), for instance, a long-haired guru gone wrong gingerly holds two cigarettes from a multi-fingered severed hand, lifted from the sculpture’s base by a slender metal pole, while ash is held over a halved coconut. Multiple eyes peer out tranquilly from the figure’s face, that looks as if it is in the midst of mitosis. The mishmash of elements that Altmejd bestows his figures dons a sense of process—transfiguration, even—which allows for a halo of optimism atop the sci-fi horror.
Mary Corse’s canvases are nothing if not experienced in the flesh. Her renowned ‘White Light’ series, of which eight new renditions are being presented at Pace Gallery, were begun in 1968 after the artist noticed the bright white lines that lit up alongside the Pacific Coast Highway when driving at night. Employing the glass microspheres that are used to paint the roadside stripes, Corse began constructing immense, shimmering canvases to capture the light she witnessed. Through these works, the artist became associated with the male-dominated West Coast Light and Space Movement—of which Larry Bell and Robert Irwin were part—yet she has consistently asserted her separation to the movement. While her male counterparts rose to fame, Corse settled into California’s Topanga Canyon in comparative isolation to concentrate on a prolific body of work, which is only now being given widespread recognition. In 2018, Dia Art Foundation and the Whitney Museum of American Art opened exhibitions of her work, while Lisson Gallery in London presented the artist’s first major U.K. solo show. A comprehensive survey of her work will open at Los Angeles County Museum of Art in summer 2019.
Louise Bourgeois: My Own Voice Wakes Me UpHauser & Wirth, 15–16/F, H Queen’s, 80 Queen’s Road, Central26 March–11 May 2019
Of great inspiration to Yoan Capote was Louise Bourgeois, who the artist encountered during his first trip to the United States in 2002 for a residency at the Vermont Studio Center. Upon meeting, the two exchanged drawings, and Bourgeois encouraged Capote to ‘continue in the psychological direction,’ a path that she took with force throughout her life. The artist’s first solo exhibition in Hong Kong, curated by her longtime assistant Jerry Gorovoy, focuses on the body’s importance in Bourgeois’ work, as a ‘key to both self-knowledge and cathartic release.’ The exhibition includes well-known forms of work, including red gouaches, fabric sculptures, and red gouaches, along with her lesser-known holograms—the result of a 1997 collaboration between the artist and C-Project, which was the first holography studio in New York. Bourgeois was 87 at the time she made these eerie works, that glow and fade to reveal deep red interiors containing miniature chairs in metallic dens—surrealistic windows into strong psychic space. On 26 March, a panel discussion between Jerry Gorovoy and four museum professionals and scholars—including Wang Duan, artistic director of Song Museum, and art historian and writer Briony Fer—moderated by Shanghai-based critic Shen Qilan, will discuss the artist’s work at Tai Kwun between 2:30 and 3:30 pm.
On 25 March 2019, Paris- and Hong Kong-based A2Z Art Gallery will close its doors to the exhibition of brightly coloured canvases covered with boats made from thin layers of folded paint by Hong Kong artist Ng Lung Wai, and open a comparatively moody showcase of surrealistic paintings by Japanese artist Shiori Eda on 28 March. A Water World continues the artist’s portrayal of dark, heaving seascapes—ruminations of human apathy in the face of climate catastrophes. Heaving whirlpools and waves fume white across blackened canvases, while miniature figures and objects—such as a boat and an airplane in the case of Water power (2019)—are consumed by bodies of water. These expansive ruminations also touch on the artist’s experience as a woman in Japanese society she asserts is still rampant with misogyny, as indicated by the tiny yet resolute female figures that reappear in works such as Tsunami (2014), in which a gigantic wave crashes down, its bright spume creating a curve across the canvas. A slender board ejects from the right-hand side of the canvas, from which naked female figures fall to the ocean’s surface at the behest of the wave—appearing like fluttering gulls in the darkness.
Opening in the 2,500-square-foot ground floor space of St. George’s Building in Central, Lévy Gorvy will inaugurate its third gallery space with an exhibition that brings together international artists, including Willem de Kooning, Song Dong, Wassily Kandinsky, and Hao Liang, to contemplate nature and the physical world as a means of reflecting on contemporary turmoil. The exhibition draws from The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons, a compendium of literary criticism and from the 5th century by Liu Xie, in which the author begins with a discussion of nature’s underlying pattern. Cohesion and clarity offered by nature are explored by the artists in this exhibition through painting and photography, as in the case of Yinxian Wu’s chromogenic prints of Chinese Hibiscus (1977) and Chinese quince 002 (1976), which capture in immaculate detail single, orange flowers against dusky grey backdrops. This exhibition promises a sense of respite from the calamity of Hong Kong’s art week, with a return to nature as the purist of forms. —[O]
Once asserting that ‘art is a guaranty of sanity’, Louise Bourgeois considered art-making a cathartic process. Over her 80-year career, the French artist tackled themes of sexuality, desire, gender and the unconscious through prints, paintings, drawings, sculptures and installations. While she came to fame only during her 70s, she worked well into her 90s and has been hugely influential on subsequent generations of artists.
Influenced by psychoanalysis, Bourgeois’ works are laden with her personal traumas. Born to a family of antique dealers in Paris in 1911 and having witnessed her mother’s eventually fatal illness and father’s infidelity at an early age, Bourgeois’ childhood anxieties permeated her practice. Exemplary of this and made of several wooden planks resembling table legs, the formative sculpture The Blind Leading the Blind (1949) arose from Bourgeois’ early memories of watching her parents while hiding beneath furniture.
Bourgeois studied art at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Ecole du Louvre in Paris and in artists’ studios in Montmartre and Montparnasse. Upon marrying the art historian Robert Goldwater in 1938, she moved to New York City, enrolled in the Art Students League and began making sculptures from wood found on her apartment building’s roof. The body and feminism were revealed as concerns in these early works; made in response to her new role as wife and mother in America, the 1946–7 series of drawings and paintings ‘Femme Maison’, for example, depicts nude female bodies with their heads replaced by houses, signifying the stifling effects of domesticity.
Later sculptures made of wood, marble, bronze, plaster and latex are overtly sexual. The bronze and gold hanging sculpture Janus Fleuri (1968), for example, resembles a flaccid double-headed phallus, while the hanging male genitalia in the latex-and-plaster sculpture Filette (Sweeter Version) (1968–99) similarly points to Bourgeois’ conception of masculinity as innately vulnerable. On the other hand, constructed from fabric, marble, steel, wood and glass, the sculpture Couple (2003) depicts the form of an embracing couple upon an oval base and overlain with a sheet of translucent pink fabric, resulting in an overall composition that resembles the labia. Similarly concerned with the female body, the 1991 rubber wall-relief Mamelles depicts 16 breasts arranged in a horizontal formation akin to a classical frieze; in 2001, the work was cast by Tate in fleshy, pink rubber—a material that emphasised its eroticism.
Across sculpture, painting and printmaking, such bulbous forms are a common motif in Bourgeois’ works and often resemble egg sacs, phalluses, breasts and testicles. The white marble sculpture Cumul I (1968) depicts several spherical forms in various states of concealment under a sheet, while Bourgeois’ installation The Destruction of the Father (1974) saw the artist cover a dining table with round, fleshy latex and plaster forms. Constructed as a way of expressing her anger over her father, the work is bathed in light emitted from red bulbs and laden with violence and resentment.
Hands too appear often in Bourgeois’ work, representing touch, femininity and care. The bronze-cast sculpture Nature Study (1986) takes the form of a delicate, feminine-looking hand tied together with a small female figure by a tubular coil. Installed at the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris, the large-scale sculpture The Welcoming Hands (1996) depicts intertwined hands, cast in bronze and laid on five granite stones. While their touches are tender, the appendages are also severed at the forearms, suggesting disembodiment or loss. Other representations of the body were less literal but equally personal; the approximately 80 anthropomorphic, totem-like sculptures made of stacked wood that comprise the ‘Personnages’ series (1945–55), for example, were each inspired by a person Bourgeois knew.
After moving her studio from her Chelsea townhouse to a larger Brooklyn space in 1980, Bourgeois was free to create larger sculptures. It was there that she embarked on series of large-scale installation works that she called ‘Cells’, so named for their connotations of imprisonment and living organisms. Defying easy categorisation, these works have been described by art historian Julienne Lorz as sitting ‘between a museal panorama, a theater set, an environment or installation’. Most often enclosed by wire cages or wood, ‘Cells’ such as Cell (The Last Climb) (2008) or Red Room (Child) (1994) contain sculptures and readymade objects such as spindles, needles and threads to stand in as abstract visual representations of traumas and bodily anxieties. Cell XXVI (2003), for example, comprises a large cage in which a bulbous form with human legs dangles in front of a mirror. Similarly, Cell XXV (The view of the world of the jealous wife) (2001) sees two ladies’ dresses imprisoned in a cell—perhaps an oblique reference to her father’s affair with the artist’s childhood au pair and the pain inflicted on Bourgeois’ sick mother.
It wasn’t until 1994 that Bourgeois began the works for which she is perhaps best known: large-scale sculptures of spiders known as ‘Mamans’. While she had been drawing the insects since at least the mid-1940s, it took 50 years for the motif to be realised as a metaphor for the mother figure. Instead of frightening or repulsive, Bourgeois considered spiders protective as they eat mosquitos and prevent disease. Furthermore, the webs the actual insects weave recalled Bourgeois own mother’s work with tapestries before her premature death. These monumental spiders, which viewers can walk around and below, have been installed at the Brooklyn Museum, Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. Other notable public artworks include the fountain Father and Son (2005), installed at the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle. Comprising larger-than-life sculptures of a man and boy, the fountain’s figures are obscured from one another as the water rises and falls—a direct reference to the troubled parent-child relationship that characterises much of Bourgeois’ output.
Bourgeois’ first museum retrospective was held in 1982 at The Museum of Modern Art in New York when the artist was 70. Since then, and following her death in New York at the age of 98, her work has been exhibited extensively in international institutions.
At the heart of Mary Corse’s practice lies an interest in the subjective experiences of light and colour. As an artist positioned on the periphery of the American Light and Space Movement, Mary Corse is known for her lightboxes and monochromatic paintings made with a unique mixture of acrylic paint and reflective glass beads.
Originating in Southern California in the 1960s, the Light and Space Movement referred to a group of loosely associated artists who shared a penchant for exploring perceptual phenomena and pioneering the then-unconventional use of plastic, glass, resin and neon fluorescent lights in art. Partially influenced by the brilliant California landscape and its bright sun, ocean and surf culture, artists such as James Turrell, Robert Irwin and John McCracken developed a visual aesthetic that focused on perfectly polished surfaces and minimalist abstract forms. As one of the few women artists associated with the movement, Corse’s contribution was not recognised until recently. While sharing with her contemporaries an understanding of perception as a subjective experience, she developed a distinctive practice that differs substantially from others of the movement in her deliberate inclusion of evidence of the artist’s hand.
Throughout her career, Corse has experimented with embedding luminescence in her paintings, with a particular focus on white light. Beginning in 1966, Corse worked on a series of lightboxes that consist of Plexiglas lit by fluorescent and, later, argon-filled tubes. For another series titled ‘Electric Light’ (1968), she studied quantum physics and wireless cording to create light paintings suspended from the ceiling. It was also during this year that Corse discovered the possibility of mixing acrylic paint with the microspheres—glass reflector beads used to mark road dividers on the highway—that would become a hallmark of her work.
Having focused on all-white paintings in the 1960s, Corse began to introduce black in the following decade. Black Light Painting (1975), for instance, depicts a composition of white and black quadrangles. By painting the black sections in acrylic paint mixed with minuscule acrylic squares and microspheres, Corse transformed the colour black—commonly thought of as the absence of light—into a luminous shade.
Corse’s evolving experimentation with light is grounded in her belief in the range of possibilities available to a single colour depending on light and perspective. From one angle, her acrylic paintings may appear to have an uninterrupted surface of monochromatic grids; from another angle, however, the varied texture of the brushstrokes and microspheres become visible, altering the impression of the same work. This optical illusion was extended with Corse’s use of the ‘inner band’—a composition of alternating columns of white and shades of grey—from 1996 onwards, in which vertical stripes appear and disappear as the viewer changes position.
Corse graduated with a BFA from the Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts), Los Angeles, in 1963 and received her MFA from the same school in 1968. Her recent solo and group exhibitions in selected institutions include Lisson Gallery, London (2018); Seattle Art Museum (2015); University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor (2014); J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (2011); Gropius Bau, Berlin (2011); and Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (2011). In 2018 the Whitney Museum of American Art organised A Survey in Light, Corse’s first solo museum survey. The artist lives and works in Los Angeles.
Shiori Eda is a Japanese artist born in Tokyo in 1983. She graduated from the National University of Fine Arts in Tokyo in 2010, and has won numerous awards including: Kume Award (2005), Ataka Award (2006), Spring Salon Award (2008), Ohashi Award (2008), Taro Amano Award (2010).
Having been highly promoted by the Japanese media, her artworks are now well known, appreciated and collected in Japan. The pictorial compositions surf between figuration and surrealism; she depicts women, often facing gigantic and unexpected natural disasters. The artworks address a message about the status of women in Japanese society.
Now living and working in France, the artist developed a more mature reflection and reveals an indomitable nature, sometimes soft, sometimes violent, but always prodigious. Her universe plunges us into the depths of sky and water through the fine bristles of her brushes.
From her reflections based on the place of a human being confronting with the world, Shiori Eda sketches scenes of miniature realities that she reconstructs. These dioramas simplify the narrative framework on simulated places and offer it a vision on an intimate scale that concentrates emotions. She paints an illusory world that is more authentic than the real life.
Jorinde Voigt channels external pulse and physical movements into complex drawn notations, featuring webs of interconnected thoughts, forms and words. Perhaps stemming from musical scores or codified system of classification, each of her carefully wrought matrices of colour and line combines elements of gestural chance with highly ordered empiricism, gleaned from the worlds of culture, science, music, history and literature. Whether the starting point is Goethe’s Faust, the flight of an eagle (Adler flight), a series of walks, or a simple kiss (Two kissing), Voigt’s multi-layered diagrams of each subject so take into account wind speeds, the Fibonacci sequence of numbering, or her bodily interactions with the oversized sheets of paper being worked upon. The intensity and oft geometric intentionality of her hand-scribed mark-making belies the ethereal intangibility of each work, with splashes of gold or silver refuting obvious figurative comparisons, recalling instead the arcane endeavours contained in illuminated or annotated manuscripts. Shifting into sculptural installation, Voigt maintains ago systematic structures and temporal processes, creating objects as equivalencies for seeking non-visual concepts as Grammatik (Grammar) or _Collective Time, _both 2010. Her desire to translate, transcribe and record essentially incommunicable phenomena – including musical dynamism, philosophical notions, personal emotions or her own interior monologue – leads, not to chaos, but rather to a collision between the bygone idealism of compartmentalised modernism and the realisations of a post-modern, universal condition in which everything is interdependent ultimately.
Jorinde Voigt was born in Frankfurt am Main and lives and works in Berlin. Recent solo exhibitions include: Kunstraum Innsbruck, Austria, 2016; Kunsthalle Krems, Austria, 2015; MACRO Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rome, Italy, 2014; Langen Foundation, Neuss, Germany, 2013; Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada, 2012; Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal, Germany, 2011; Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, Netherlands, 2010. Major group exhibitions include Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscow, Russia, 2014; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France, 2013; Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, Netherlands, 2012; 54th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale, Italy (2011); Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany, 2010; Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany, 2008. Voigt’s work is Represented in a number of major collections Including: Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA; Art Institute of Chicago, USA; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich, Germany; and Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, Germany, among others. In 2012, she received the Daniel & Florence Guerlain Contemporary Drawing Prize and in 2014 she appointed what Professor for Conceptual Drawing and Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, Germany.
XU ZHEN® (徐震) is a Chinese conceptual artist and curator. Working across a variety of media, including installation, video, painting, and performance, he has established himself as an iconic figure in contemporary Chinese art.
Xu’s works combine a social critique of contemporary life with a dark sense of humour and an obvious, albeit ironic, disdain for the politics of art. His installations often take the form of elaborate, theatrical pranks. His ShanghART Supermarket, originally exhibited in 2007, replicates exactly an ordinary convenience store, though with empty products that are sold at the original price. Other, more recent works, have aimed to fuse elements of Chinese and Western cultures in a way that rejects typical perceptions of Chinese culture.
XU ZHEN® founded MadeIn Company, a collective contemporary art practice, in 2009. Xu has been producing works collaboratively since the collective’s inception, although several have been censored due to ‘inappropriate’ themes of violence and erotica. In 2014, Xu returned to his individual practice, though now as a ‘product’ of MadeIn Company, rather than its founder.
The artist’s recent solo exhibitions have included Movement Field at Long March Space, Beijing (2013); ShanghART Supermarket at ShanghART, Singapore (2014); Blissful As Gods at ShanghART H-Space, China (2014-2015); and Look Again at Pékin Fine Arts, Hong Kong (2015). Xu has exhibited at international institutions and biennales such as the Venice Biennale (both 2001 and 2005), the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; the Tate, Liverpool; and the Long Museum, Shanghai.
The work of Heimo Zobernig (b. 1958, Mauthen, Austria) spans an array of media, from architectural intervention and installation, through performance, film and video, to sculpture and painting. His practice across all these forms is connected by an interrogation of the formal language of modernism, at its most familiar in the tropes of the monochrome and the grid, yet also concerned with Constructivism, colour theory and geometric abstraction. His riffs on these themes spill out from his paintings into sculptures, videos and room installations. Zobernig fundamentally subverts the high modernist ideal of the monochrome, compromising its aesthetic purity with the introduction of elements of the decorative, the functional, or the lightly comic.
An education in set design invested the artist with an interest in architecture and display: elements of mise-en-scène run throughout his practice, informing the way in which he installs and exhibits his multi-faceted oeuvre. He frequently uses fabric curtains or light to create monochromatic environments within which his works are installed. His playful and inquisitive sculptures, often minimal, expand this monochromatic field. Such subversive approaches to traditional gallery architecture and the unconventional use of space serves to underline Zobernig’s fascination with the framing of his art, both physically and conceptually, generating a performative quality that questions pre-existing art historical and ideological concerns.
Para Site is Hong Kong’s leading contemporary art centre and one of the oldest and most active independent art institutions in Asia. It produces exhibitions, publications, discursive, and educational projects aimed at forging a critical understanding of local and international phenomena in art and society.
Founded in early 1996 as an artist run space, Para Site was Hong Kong’s first exhibition-making institution of contemporary art and a crucial self-organised structure within the city’s civil society, during the uncertain period preceding its handover to Mainland China. Throughout the years, Para Site has grown into a contemporary art centre, engaged in a wide array of activities and collaborations with other art institutions, museums, and academic structures in Hong Kong and the international landscape. In early 2015, Para Site moved to greatly increased premises, in North Point/Quarry Bay. Throughout its history, Para Site’s activities have included a range of different formats, among which P/S magazine (1997-2006), a bilingual publication, which was Hong Kong’s first visual arts magazine and a central platform for the development of art writing and of a discursive scene in the city and the Curatorial Training Programme (2007-2010). Since 2012, Para Site has been running an International Art Residency Programme and has been organizing an annual international conference. This is accompanied, starting from 2015, by a new educational format aimed at training young curators and other art professionals. Para Site’s activities are made possible by the generous support of its patrons, and grants from foundations and the Government of the HKSAR.
Form Colour Action explores sketchbooks and notebooks as sites of performance. The exhibition displays for the first time Lee Wen’s drawings, paintings, and notes dating from 1978 to 2014, as well as documentation of the pioneering artist’s performances. The selection helps us understand his contention that ‘drawing is the most basic time-based medium,’ and his development of performance art as tracings of daily routines of the human, the environment, and the cosmos.
The exhibition opens with a group of sketchbooks made between 1978 and 1989 that show Lee’s education in academic art—which he would reimagine, opening its vocabulary and techniques to a socially engaged practice. For him, image-making is integral to performance. This idea manifests most obviously in The Journey of a Yellow Man, which was developed from 1992 to 2001, and can be seen in the videos. The project evolved from a critique of Orientalism to a meditation on freedom, climate change, humility, and religious practices.
A group of sketchbooks and notebooks, from 1988 to 2002, shows how Lee uses lines and colour to convey emotions and action. A sketchbook from 1990 presents his early studies of representations of the human in the genres of portraiture and landscape. These studies inform Lee’s use of the body as vehicle and material in his performances. Another sketchbook from 1992 shows a drawing of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi sitting on a lotus flower, wherein the body and the landscape are part of a continuum. This merging of figure and ground would be crucial for Lee’s approach to performance art—his conception of the body’s movement as the lines of a drawing, and movement as an integration of the self into the world.
A facsimile reproduction of the pages of a 1978 sketchbook—comprised of drawings and gouache paintings of volumes and shapes—is spread along AAA Library’s west and north walls of windows. As one’s eyes move across the page, so the body moves down the line of windows. Another group of sketchbooks, from 1988 to 2014, can be seen on a monitor and in a vitrine along the windows. These studies in seriality remind us of Lee’s performances as multiples.
Lee Wen’s sketchbooks and notebooks offer a site to study his development of performance as an articulation of the self and its relation to the social and natural worlds. His training in drawing and painting gave him the tools to embody form and colour as action.
Lee Wen (1957–2019) was a multidisciplinary artist who defined and shaped performance art in Asia. He had solo exhibitions at Singapore Art Museum, The Substation, and elsewhere. Group exhibitions included SunShower (2017), Secret Archipelago (2015), Singapore Biennale (2013), Asiatopia (2008 and 1998), Third Asia Pacific Triennial (1999), Sexta Bienal de La Habana (1997), and Gwangju Biennale (1995). Alongside his artistic practice, Lee was active in artist-run initiatives—in particular, the collective Black Market International, and the festivals Future of Imagination and Rooted in the Ephemeral Speak (R.I.T.E.S.).
Form Colour Action is curated by Chương-Đài Võ and Özge Ersoy, with the support of John Tain, Hazel Kwok, and Young One Cheung. This curatorial essay stems from a longer essay written by Chương-Đài Võ, which can be accessed through Asia Art Archive’s IDEAS journal. An earlier version of the essay was published as ‘Line Form Colour Action ‘in Afterall Journal, No. 46 (Autumn/Winter 2018): 14–25.
Hanart TZ Gallery is honoured this March to present Edge of Sea and Sky, a solo exhibition by late Taiwanese master artist Yeh Shih-Chiang, featuring over 30 oil paintings. A musical reception will take place over two evenings, on Monday, 25 March and Tuesday, 26 March 2019, from 6 to 8pm, at Hanart TZ Gallery.
Yeh Shih-Chiang settled in Taiwan in 1949 after first visiting the island as an art student from Guangzhou. This was a time when many Taiwanese artists were coming into contact with Western Post-War modernism, which inspired them to embark on an intensive period of experimentation, seeking for a new language of Chinese ‘modernism’ with ink painting as its basis. Yeh Shih-Chiang was not interested in becoming simply a follower of new Western trends, and at the same time he also was averse to being trapped within the confines of the national ‘guohua’ painting style. In a sense one could say he was avoiding the ideological impasse represented by the two sides of the Cold War. Ultimately he found his solution in a return to the pure and eternal realm of art, taking elements he found compelling from both modern and traditional languages as he developed his own painting practice. His strong, iconoclastic personality and his solitary nature fuelled his ability to break the rules and create his own artistic path. While he refused submitting to constraints of the academy system, he also rejected the art market and the bureaucracy of exhibitions. The intense singularity of Yeh Shih-Chiang’s art has won devoted followings among connoisseurs in the inner circles of the art world. His artistic practices highlight unresolved problems in China’s modern art historical discourse, in particular issues dealing with national culture and the modern nation-state, and the role of the artist under siege of ideologies (from either the left or the right). Yeh took China’s modern experiment into new trajectories, and one might go so far as to claim that his artistic position, developed over his years in China and Taiwan, challenges the mainstream art historical narrative based on modern nation-state discourse, particularly that of the Post-War era, opening up a fruitful new ground for research.
Para Site is delighted to present the large-scale group exhibition, An Opera for Animals, curated by Cosmin Costinas (Executive Director/Curator) and Claire Shea (Deputy Director). Running from 23 March to 9 June 2019, the exhibition is a prelude to Para Site’s partnershipwith Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai. Between June 22 to August 25, 2019 at Rockbund Art Museum, and September to December 2020 at Para Site, the two institutions will develop and present together two related exhibitions.
The exhibition looks at the histories and principles of classical opera present in European, Chinese and other traditions, using this high art form to investigate its relationship to lingering colonial traces as well as to the ways in which contemporary society is staged, constructed, and performed. It recognises a clear overlap between the golden age of Western opera and the maximum extent of the European colonial era, at the end of 19th century, and tracks the complexities of how the colonial project was being furthered and celebrated through the spectacle of opera. Perhaps one of the richest art forms, the western term ‘opera’ has been used as the name to describe very different traditions of performance from around the world. An Opera for Animals interprets and reimagines ‘opera’ and these multi-faceted definitions, deconstructing operatic language and its numerous components to discover how these devices shape our contemporary landscape. Several works examine animals as symbols or devices of representation exploring our interrelated histories and how these relationships manifest in our world today.
Modernity, in close connection with the colonial project, also changed the physical, emotional, and symbolic relationship between humans and animals, in drastic contrast to ancient beliefs and indigenous systems of knowledge and value. Today, the animal spirits are more present in our global contemporary culture than it seems, connecting ancient beliefs with the fear of a future colonised by artificial intelligence. The world of technology also continues to draw influence from the unique characteristics of certain animal species, enforcing this connection. The conflicts of staging, controlling, hiding, and repressing that occur within the operatic space are at the very core of contemporary reality, a world in which we are defined by constructed truths, digital parallel universes and the promise of new technological innovations in artificial intelligence.
The exhibition also seeks to highlight previously overlooked connections between European classical music and other musical systems, and, more extensively, the different acts of staging that have been crucial to the imagination of modernity.
The exhibition explores the way in which the future is now projected less as the rational thinking commonly remembered from previous decades – advanced machinery, design, and utopian social forms—but once more as a place of fear, of animals that might take over in the artificial landscapes of tomorrow’s virtual reality.
Perrotin Hong Kong is pleased to present the solo exhibition The Glorious by XU ZHEN® from March 25, 2019. It is the artist’s third solo exhibition with the gallery, following Civilization Iteration at Perrotin Paris and a subsequent instalment at Perrotin Seoul. This show will feature three of the artist’s signature work series: Under Heaven, Eternity, and Evolution, showcasing a variety of installations, paintings, and sculptures. Since the founding of MadeIn Company in 2009, XU ZHEN® has produced works in a corporate fashion, utilising modern production mechanisms to tackle the current plight of art amidst globalisation and capitalisation. By juxtaposing classical elements of civilisation throughout human history and making them collide, the artist resuscitates visual experience in everyday life and prevalent symbols of art history, enabling spectators to interpret a host of issues-the value of art, clashes of culture, geopolitics-in a different light.
Under Heaven-Gold, on show in this exhibition, is a brand-new revamp of an existing series, Under Heaven, in which bright coloured pigments are densely and profusely applied onto the canvas using cream piping bags, resulting in baroque-style squiggles and swirls that evoke a carnivalesque revelry in a realm under heaven conjured by the artist. This series has been a familiar sight to many since shown as the visual centrepiece of the 2014 Armory Show in New York. XU ZHEN® consistently employs readily digestible artistic experiences, which take on a satirical function as metaphors for modern society’s excessive consumerism and explore the limits of commodifying art. Revealed in other chromatic instalments of the Under Heaven series is the collusion between sensualism and commercialisation. This Gold series, despite its use of the most opulent colour known to man, irradiates a dignified and profound beauty. The black walls of the exhibition space incarnate Jun’ichirō Tanizaki’s dense shadows; the gold submerges into darkness, but still emits a solemn sheen, even in places where the sun cannot reach. The Glorious, the exhibition’s title, refers to the dazzling glare of Under Heaven – Gold as well as the accomplishment and wealth symbolised by works of art.
As some of the most representative series of works by XU ZHEN®, Eternity and Evolution follow through an examination of geoculture. Eternity takes inspiration from the headless statues found in China and the West. By reproducing and grafting these statues-symbols of mankind’s triumph-together, the artist provides a new civilisational paradigm for the relationship between violence and the sublime, confrontation and coexistence, and dilapidation and imperishability. The juxtaposition of both regional statues not only alludes to art history and its manmade nomenclature, but also mankind’s colonial past, and within the work, irreconcilable differences appear to gradually crumble and dissipate. The Evolution series develops out of the Eternity series, and although they stem from different spatio-temporal contexts, both exhibit cultural disparity against a global backdrop. Evolution further extends its creative tentacles to primitive art situated on the threshold of mainstream culture, transforming African masks and Dunhuang frescoes into a marvellous blend of cartoon and traditional art. XU ZHEN® thereby lays bare the cognitive transition generated by the Internet, in which the efficiency of hyperlinks and ever-accelerating channels of knowledge acquisition have led to complex and qualitative changes.
The skepticism and ideological trends of post-modernity have long been at the very root of XU ZHEN®’s creative practice. Cultural appropriation and shifting iconographies are recurrent in his oeuvre. With The Glorious, XU ZHEN® provides spectators with various inroads into interpreting our present-day culture and social plight. Amidst circumstances where chaos is rampant, the artist’s works have a unique way of bringing to light the underlying swells of possibility. Stele sculptures conjuring the Tower of Babel; paintings refracting a bizarre, visionary aesthetic; the gloriously resplendent realm under heaven: these inspirations not only reveal a lofty ambition of leading art into the future, but also serve to condensate ancient oriental wisdoms.
Lehmann Maupin is pleased to announce Erwin Wurm’s first solo exhibition in Hong Kong. For this exhibition, the Austrian artist who has redefined the categories of sculpture and performance art will premiere recent sculpture and photography from his most iconic series. Each week, visitors will be invited to activate one of Wurm’s One Minute Sculptures by mimicking a unique pose with a typical household item, with the durational sculpture captured in a Polaroid photo that may be taken home. This exhibition represents the artist’s return to China after nearly a decade since his 2010 solo exhibition at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. There will be an opening reception for the artist on Monday, March 25, at the Pedder Building, from 6 to 8 PM. Erwin Wurm will also be featured in the Lehmann Maupin booth (1C21) at Art Basel Hong Kong, opening March 29 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Wurm has produced a body of work that explores the exciting possibilities of sculpture, pushing the boundaries of this static art form to incorporate participatory, temporal, and psychological elements. As an artist, Wurm is interested in conditions that test the limits of form and evoke the absurdity that can be found in the routine and mundane actions of everyday life. For Wurm, all forms, including our own bodies, can be considered and activated as sculpture. Famous works like Fat House (2003) and Fat Car (2001) exemplify this point, making our most iconic architecture and design susceptible to the biological processes of a human body, in this case the visual effects of gaining weight. Wurm will also often attribute human traits to inanimate objects, by giving human appendages to luxury handbags or moss-covered boulders as a way to demonstrate the socially reinforced implications that these objects hold through enticing anthropomorphic forms.
For this exhibition, Wurm has produced new cast metal sculptures from his ‘Abstract Sculpture’ series, depicting sausages with human features that highlight the absurdity behind common references or figures of speech. These works hint at both the cultural associations of the sausage and the Bavarian region he is from, as well as the form’s relationship to the body as a phallus. This psychological extension of the self onto objects, and vice versa, is a critical component of Wurm’s oeuvre, in which he uses humour and the projection of human emotions and ego to hint at deeper, more existential issues.
Wurm’s interest in the absurdity that can be found in mundane scenarios of daily life has deep roots in his One Minute Sculptures, which were the focus of Wurm’s presentation for the Austrian Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale. These sculptures require a participant to enact simple yet outlandish poses with an object for one minute. The precision with which the participant is able to execute the pose determines the success of the sculpture, which exists for only its enacted duration, and in the original photographic documentation. Despite its title role in the series, the actual timeframe of one minute is less important than the participant’s awareness and reaction to the time passing while enacting the sculpture, and their own experience of being on display as an artwork. In this regard, this series democratises a medium traditionally used to commemorate significant, historical figures. Wurm’s work thus challenges this long-standing function by allowing any individual to become a work of art. In addition to the opportunity for the public in Hong Kong to engage in their own One Minute Sculptures, a series of Polaroid photographs depicting Wurm and others enacting them will be on view.
Five years after opening their first overseas venue in a prime location in Central Hong Kong’s Entertainment Building, Axel Vervoordt Gallery is relocating to an expanded two-level space in Wong Chuk Hang, the dynamic artistic hub on the south part of Hong Kong Island.
Set to open during Art Basel in Hong Kong from 25 March till 30 March 2019, this relocation marks an important new step in anchoring Axel Vervoordt Gallery’s presence in the region. The 8,000 square foot gallery offers a larger-scale space that will allow the opportunity for curated shows with few limitations, to present larger works and to give artists a great platform for their work.
The Wong Chuk Hang space will enable Axel Vervoordt Gallery to grow their roster of artists, while fostering relationships with contemporary Asian artists and to participate in more regional contemporary art fairs such as West Bund (Shanghai), and KIAF (Seoul). The gallery’s annual programme includes four exhibitions per year by established artists and punctuated by showcases of work by younger and emerging artists.
The new space will open with a group show entitled, Infinitive Mutability, featuring works by Peter Buggenhout, Kimsooja and Bosco Sodi. Taking its cue from Jacques Derrida’s concept of deconstruction, the exhibition aims to focus on the limitless shifts of meaning and possibility offered by any new interpretation of a text or a work of visual art.
Simon Lee Gallery, Hong Kong, is proud to present a series of new paintings by Austrian artist, Heimo Zobernig, his first ever solo exhibition in Hong Kong.
For forty years Zobernig has conducted a thorough re-interpretation of the languages of formalism via an expansive body of work that moves seamlessly between an array of disciplines, from architectural intervention and installation, to performance, film, video, sculpture and painting.
While the artist draws on varied art historical movements, it is an interrogation of modernist tropes and subdivisions–colour theory, the grid, the monochrome, geometric abstraction–that underpins his practice. A critical engagement with the way in which art is framed, both physically and conceptually, is central to Zobernig’s artistic approach, which with its insistent subversion of established twentieth-century motifs and defiance of the confines of any one specific genre, evades easy categorisation.
A commitment to painting anchors Zobernig’s practice. His work in two dimensions is fundamentally absorbed in the history of European abstraction, often exploring the ideologies of artists associated with the refinement of modernist theory. Working within the parameters of a predetermined 200 x 200 cm format, Zobernig deconstructs formal codes surrounding the expressive potential of his medium. Following a visit to a Picasso exhibition at the Kunsthaus Zurich in 2011, the artist relinquished his grip on the grid for a new gestural freedom that continues to play with form, line and colour, expressed with a characteristic irreverence. This self-reflexive approach explores the potential and limitations of painting, at the same time as analysing it within the context of its own display.
In these new works, Zobernig casts his gaze further afield, looking to the ways in which artists have quoted one another for generations upon generations. The series takes as its point of reference Pablo Picasso’s interpretation of Edouard Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe, which in turn was inspired in part by both Titian’s Concert champêtre and The Judgement of Paris, an engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi, after Raphael. In Zobernig’s rendition, the abstraction is heightened, and the male and female figures transformed into a complex play of forms. In another work, the artist reconstructs a still life of a flower by Picasso, with the addition of the word ‘NO’ rendered in the image lines; at once an acknowledgement and a negation, encouraging the viewer to perceive an alternative to the perception of nature offered in the original painting. Recurring motifs in several other works refer to landscape paintings by fellow Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, as well as the backgrounds of portraits by Manet.
Hauser & Wirth is pleased to present the first solo exhibition in Hong Kong of works by renowned French-American artist Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010). Opening on 26 March, the exhibition is curated by Jerry Gorovoy, who worked closely with Bourgeois from the early 1980s until her death in 2010.
For more than 70 years, Bourgeois created forms that merged the concrete reality of the world around her and the fantastic reality of her inner psychic landscape. Her creative process was rooted in an existential need to record the rhythms and fluctuations of her conscious and unconscious life as a way of imposing order on the chaos of her emotions. The body, with its functions and distempers, held the key to both self-knowledge and cathartic release. My Own Voice Wakes Me Up takes its title from one of Bourgeois’s writings and focuses on distinct bodies of work from the final two decades of the artist’s life, including fabric sculptures, hand poses, red gouaches, experimental large-format prints, topiary sculptures, and rarely exhibited holograms.
The exhibition coincides with Bourgeois’s first large-scale museum tour in China, The Eternal Thread, presented at the Long Museum, Shanghai, and the Song Art Museum, Beijing.
Ben Brown Fine Arts is proud to present Yoan Capote: Territorial Waters, Yoan Capote’s first solo exhibition in Hong Kong and third solo exhibition with the gallery. The gallery space will be transformed by an installation of Capote’s iconic ‘fishhook paintings’ from his renowned ‘Isla’ series. These paintings present varying convergences of sea and sky, thousands of tiny fishhooks piercing the canvases to create rhythmic waters amidst thickly impastoed surfaces with bands of sky ranging from blood red to midnight blue. The exhibition will also include two suspended curved canvases that create a 360-degree immersive seascape.
Capote’s seascapes stem from his childhood memories of growing up on the politically isolated island of Cuba and his strong desire to see and experience the outside world. Capote notes, ‘The sea is an obsession for any island population… When I was a child, I looked to the horizon and would imagine the world beyond. The sea represents the seductiveness of these dreams, but at the same time danger and isolation.’ This duality is revealed in his ‘Isla’ paintings–they are at once meditations on the sublime beauty and boundlessness of the wild seas, yet their construction of sharp, menacing fishhooks, many tainted with traces of blood, firmly connotes the dangers and impossibility of migration experienced by many Cubans. He continues, ‘I wanted to use thousands of fishhooks to create a surface that would be almost tangible to the viewer upon their approach; this would become the tactile experience of standing in front of a metal fence. The fishhook itself is an ancient tool that has kept its design for centuries and which is also symbolic of seduction and entrapment. For Cubans, the seascape imposes a political and ideological limit that has been dividing families, ideas and feelings for several generations; it is a mental wall between the present and the future that affects the collective conscience like a permanent fascination.’
The paintings vary in format and proportion of sea to sky—in some the stormy seas envelope the canvas into near abstraction while in others a vivid purple or red sky looms above the water—yet they are all hung along the gallery walls with a consistent horizon line to evoke the sensation of looking out windows, surrounded by water, the viewer becoming the island. Serially depicting a singular subject in various atmospheric conditions roots Capote in the artistic tradition of artists ranging from David Caspar Friedrich to the Impressionists to Hiroshi Sugimoto, yet his seascapes also serve as metaphorical devices to contemplate topical issues of migration, immigration, boundaries and borders.
Continuing to develop her surrealist universe, the Japanese artist Shiori Eda’s artistry enkindles among her audience, a suppressed desire to re-evaluate humanity and the environment. Vast imaginary landscapes, conceptualise mother natures stage while oceanic arenas are enchanted with her figuration. Eda’s signature, naked, female figures elicit an important dialogue about femininity in Japanese culture whilst managing to allegorically evoke an emotional response that echoes humanities inertia toward climate change, the planet and mother nature.
Water has been called ‘the elixir of life’ and is often taken as a metaphor for human emotion, life, cleansing, birth and rebirth. As the tides vary with the moons cycles ebbing and flowing in natural harmony, our true wisdom shall only emerge when the seas are calm. Waves crash with emotions and tides rage in the storms fury, the inner voice of humanity only to be heard when the drowning of the waves surpasses.
The Japanese artist displays highly detailed, acute brushwork and composition, which enable the observer to be transported to the aerial view of her domain. On zooming in and scrutinising Shiori Eda’s un-compromised masterpieces, one can be instigated to reflect on the cultural insensitivities that might well be domestic to her native Japan, while contemplating our own efforts as individuals in society.
The multidisciplinary artist Lee Wen passed away on 3 March 2019, in Singapore, after having suffered from Parkinson’s Disease. He was a pioneer who defined and shaped performance art in Asia. He came of age at a time when Singapore was undergoing the turbulent and uncertain processes of nation-building—from a former British colony to a brief…
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