Seen&Scene: Ai WeiWei Frames Hong Kong Artists; Artists Respond In Kind

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This evening, friends, supporters, and media, were invited to Duddell’s 4th Floor to preview Chinese artist, Ai WeiWei’s first curated exhibition in Hong Kong titled, Framed. What is in fact being framed, is literally the work of 13 of Hong Kong’s finest art practitioners, hand selected by Ai WeiWei himself; Nadim Abbas, Kitty Chou, Ho Sin Tung, Frog King, Kum Chi-Keung, Kwan Sheung Chi, Michael Lau, Kingsley Ng, MAP Office, Tozer Pak Sheung Chuen, Angela Su, Tsang Kin Wah, and Stanley Wong anothermountainman. 

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Before the opening party, a private gathering was hosted by Duddell’s founder, Alan Lo and M+’s Executive Director, Lars Nittve, for an intimate panel discussion with some of the artists in the group show, plus a special welcome video of WeiWei himself introducing the exhibition.

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The 45 minute long discussion was focused primarily on the idea of “Framing” and being “Framed”. Some of the artists, like Tozer Pak Sheung Chuen, yearned to work outside the frame conceptually and physically imposed by WeiWei (a wooden frame uniform about 65 x 65 cm, square). Other artists welcomed the possibility of the frame’s unifying factor, like Kitty Chou’s work. MAP Office took the idea of the Frame as an opportunity to focus on the curator, WeiWei, stating that the artists are not the focus of the show, but WeiWei himself because essentially the works are a reaction to the curator’s theme. MAP Office’s response reflects on the different facets of Ai WeiWei, a man, an island, trapped “within his own kingdom, and defined by his own territory in China”. Ho Sin Tung’s portrait of Ai WeiWei, titled Alien 2013 (seen at the top of the post),  framed a portrait of the curator within the imposed timber frame as his response.

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Frog King’s Frog Fun 2013 piece which hangs proudly on the feature stair’s main landing, is all “balls-out”, literally, and proposes play in reference to his 20-plus year relationship with Ai WeiWei. 

Work by Tsang Kin Wah, MomFDadFDaughterFTeacherFJesusF MaryFBillFMonicaFPoliticianFPastorFKidFMomFTeen… 2007.

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While it is true that Duddell’s is not your typical gallery exhibition space, it is a bar/restaurant/members-club, with atraditional spaces for exhibiting works of art. It is in this context of which Ai WeiWei was intrigued, and uses the idea of the frame as a way to bring focus to Duddell’s position, not only its contribution to Hong Kong’s maturing cultural landscape, but also in the way this newly minted venue can bridge Hong Kong artist to a more global contemporary audience.

In the foreword for the exhibition’s book, Ai WeiWei states: 

When these artists have chosen to work with me at their own will, changes have already occurred, and change is what culture has longed for and worked towards… With the political conditions and social developments today (categorizing cultural activity by regions) are no longer applicable in the age of digital communication and globalization. A good exhibition or a good artist may come from any social background, or we can say that backgrounds are no longer relevant. This is a remarkable feat; I wish that all artists residing in Hong Kong will be blessed by this era.

In the paragraph before, Ai Weiwei stresses; that “Framed” as a theme hints at the “absurdity of our conditions.” And that continually expressing Hong Kong’s history, and links to its colonial past whether politics or art or both, is an “inevitable fable” and maybe a complete “rejection” of any “adaptation” that is taking place right now today. 

Work by Nadim Abbas, The Trial of Lady Chatterley 2013.

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Work by Michael Lau, Chrazymichael 2010.

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Work by Kum Chi-Keung, Hand 2006.

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Duddell’s seemingly takes pride in being a truly Hong Kong product, from the perspective of Hong Kong as a city of the world. Members of Duddell’s may identify with the idea that being a true Hong Konger also means being a global citizen, and that they’re one and the same. Whether that’s a position Hong Kong’s artists are ready to take on board after this show, depends on them. It’s interesting to note that it takes a curator of Ai Weiwei’s stature to have to coax such an idea of “globalness” to Hong Kong’s own cloistered art community… and he’s doing all this from the confines of his compound thousands of miles away… as an alien and outsider looking in.

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VISIT Framed. Ai Weiwei and Hong Kong Artists . 5 NOV 2013 - 15 FEB 2013 . Duddell’s, Level 3, Shanghai Tang Mansion, 1 Duddell Street, Central, Hong Kong . T: +852-25259191

JJ.

#ARTBASELHK13: Joao Vasco Paiva and Nadim Abbas Form-Scapes

What’s refreshing about having artists like Joao Vasco Paiva and Nadim Abbas (and to an obvious extent Adrian Wong) “perform” during Art Basel week in Hong Kong, is that these shows are not meant to be packaged in a nice frame and offered for sale as closed works, but rather meant to posit new ideas and paradigms to the global fair audience in town here to do “Business (capital B)”. If that’s what you’re looking for, neighboring galleries are doing retrospectives of established or dead artists, and there’s the convention center for everything finished and ready to go.

The Paiva and Abbas shows, exhibiting at the Goethe-Institut (with patronage from Edouard Malingue Gallery) and CL3 Studio respectively, offer not final ideas, but the beginning of one or at least an idea in transition. These two shows… one on top of the other (literally, one is on the 14th floor and one on the 15th floor of the HK Arts Centre across the street from Art Basel in the HKCEC), go bolder than a JJ.Abrams Star Trek fick, seemingly going warp speed somewhere, but in fact are just reflective studies of the familiar. Paiva extracts forms, surface, and texture from Hong Kong’s built urban surfaces and creates substance. Plainly speaking, his forms are molds created to preserve an urban texture… like tires, roads, or even the reflected concrete triangular waffle ceiling of the gallery space. Meanwhile Abbas obsesses over the parts that make us and magnifies the microscopic world. “Bodies” which reference viruses (HIV?) are carefully placed all over the floor and on fragments of mattresses while a poster of a rocket launching hangs eerily on a corner. 

No matter how far we look out there in the universe, the new form-scapes by Paiva and Abbas show us that we’re not done yet discovering the WHY’s of what we make and what makes us here on Earth, with plenty of uncharted territory left for them and us to explore together.

Exhibitions in association with Saamlung Gallery.

VISIT Joao Vasco Paiva: Objects Encrypted . Goethe-Institut Hong Kong 14F Hong Kong Arts Centre, 2 Harbour Road Wanchai 20 MAY - 08 JUN 2013 10AM-8:30PM M-F 1PM-6PM SAT . FREE / VISIT Nadim Abbas New Works . CL3 Architects 15F, Hong Kong Arts Centre 2 Harbour Road Wanchai 20 MAY - 25 MAY 2013

JJ.

#ARTBASELHK13: theW+ TOP 5 ‘OFF-Basel’ Guide to Shops, Parades, Drinks, and Exhibits

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It’s that time of year again. Art Basel Hong Kong (ABHK) arrives for the first time in our great city with tons of buzz. For those who are new to all this, all you need to know that this art fair in Hong Kong is the 3rd largest art fair in the world, third only to Art Basel in Basel and Art Basel in Miami. Before the Art Basel brand took over this year, the fair was dubbed ART HK (see all my ART HK posts here). The fair grew so successful since its inception in 2007 that ART BASEL officially became the major stakeholder of the fair in 2011.

This year there wil be 245 galleries from the around the world with over 50 percent coming from Asia and Asia-Pacific.  Of the 245, 48 galleries will mark their first appearance at a fair in Hong Kong. The show will be presented in four sectors: “Galleries” for general work, “Insights” for Asia based works made for the HK Show, “Discoveries” for works by emerging contemporary artists globally, and “Encounters” for site specific works exhibited beyond the booth around the floor and curated by Yuko Hasegawa, chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo.

Before we get further into the fair, so much is happening around the city with “OFF-Basel” (Official and Unofficial) Activities in the build up to opening night this Wednesday for VIP Members and Thursday for the General Public.

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Here is our TOP 5 ‘OFF-Basel’ Guide to (Official and Unofficial) Events and Exhibitions Outside Art Basel Hong Kong:

+ ‘PAPER RAIN’ A Public Parade by Arto Lindsay

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This multi-media parade built around the idea of cinema, unspools along the Victoria Harbourfront and on the Star Ferry. Contributions from Nadim Abbas, Haegue Yang, Angela Su, João Vasco Paiva, Korakrit Arunanodchai, Alice Ma, Enoch Cheng, Otomo Yoshihide, Cedric Maridet, Kung Chi Shing and Shane Aspegren, as well as more special guests to be announced.

Art Basel Hong Kong is eager to invite the public to take part and participate in this public event commemorating the first day of Art Basel in Hong  Kong. The parade begins with a choir performance at the HKCEC Expo Drive Entrance. Then officially commences from Central Pier No. 10 (ferry will take public from Wanchai to Central). Parade will take artists and public to the Victoria Harbourfront and will end with an electro-acoustic performance by Otomo Yoshihide.

23 MAY 2013, Thur 16:30 - 19:00 / Public Parade Begins at HKCEC Expo Drive Entrance and Ends at the Viewing Platforms at the Victoria Harbourfront / Free and Open To The Public / Weblink

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+ The Saamlung Three: Nadim Abbas @ CL3, Joao Vasco Pavia @ Goethe-Institute, Adrian Wong x Absolut Art Bureau @ Fringe Club

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The highly celebrated Saamlung may have ceased operations as a commercial gallery in January 2013, but its space-less expansive projects and works are going the non-commercial route with new shows for the week of Art Basel Hong Kong curated by founder, Robin Peckham

Expect new works by its core group of artists, Nadim Abbas, Joao Vasco Paiva, and Adrian Wong (under the Absolut Art Bureau curation)…in three spaces. Abbas’ animated GIFs and molecular structures will be exhibited in an architect’s studios at CL3. One floor below, Paiva continues his formal studies at the Goethe-Institut spaces, and supported by Edouard Malingue Gallery. Wong will have a very interesting “art bar” installation at the Fringe Club with animatronic jazz bands, geriatric lounge singers, Asian porn soundtracks, and surly waiters from a soy sauce steak joint. 

Nadim Abbas at CL3 Architects 20-25 MAY 2013, 15F Hong Kong Arts Centre 2 Harbour Road Wanchai / Joao Vaco Paiva at Goethe-Institut Hong Kong 20 MAY - 8 JUN 2013, 14F Hong Kong Arts Centre 2 Harbour Road Wanchai / Adrian Wong Wun Dun Art Bar with Absolut Art Bureau 22-25 MAY 2013, BF Fringe Club 2 Lower Albert Road Central / Free and Open to The Public / Weblink

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+ MOBILES by Xavier Veilhan 

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Word on the street is that Xavier Veilhan may erect site specific MOBILES at Galerie Perrotin’s 50 Connaught Road  home. This week expect a group of recent and never-before scene mobiles of varying shapes and dimensions. Veilhan is known for his site-specific interventions in cities, parks, and living environments (most recently iconic Lautner homes in Los Angeles.) 

Veilhan, as a multidisciplinary artist, is “possessed by a highly personal artistic universe inhabited by a heterodox range of characters, objects and animals. Through these devices, the playful component emerges as a fundamental element in evoking a reality populated with symbols, metaphors and other semantic ambiguities.” These timeless studies a transformed into iconic objects that aim to communicate via a “POP” language.

Xavier Veilhan’s Mobiles / 21 MAY - 6 JUL 2013, Galerie Perrotin 50 Connaught Road Central HK / Free and Open To The Public / Weblink

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+ The Gift Shop by TANGRAM

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For the second year in a row, Tangram will make Hong Kong’s best independent art, design, and fashion available for all Art Basel guests to take a little something back from Hong Kong with them as gifts for themselves or their loved ones in the world. Yes, it’s the long awaited annual, The Gift Shop, a 2 day pop-up concept shop to be located in Tangram’s studios in Chai Wan Mei (the art and design spaces within Chai Wan’s industrial district.) 

Tangram’s newest collections will be on sale, but so will the rest of these amazing independent brands:

Stars & Tart (silk scarves) / Ferse Verse (paper products) / Hammer & Needle ( Leather Goods for Men) / Harlex (leather goods that can be personalized) / Gemma Hayden Blest (pressed plant collages) / 15SquareStreet (Men’s accessories) / TheYesterdaySkin (vintage and repurposed womenswear collection) / Or-Play (thoughtful children’s toys) / La Petite Mort Preserves and Jams (by Ashton Winkler, ex-Heirloom) / Teahka / MatterMatters (women’s accessories) / Tangram Loves Jaycow (bespoke headpieces with Jaycow Milliner) / Driftwood x Grafter by Michael Leung / Signed Prints By HK Illustrators Kitty Wong, Emilie Sarnel, Emilie Eldridge 

Although Tangram’s founder Paola Sinisterra is perfectly happy with the “Off-Basel” annual shop to stay in Chai Wan, something tells me that this initiative should be closer to the fair next year because it is a treat for guests from out of town to go to a one-stop-shop for all the “CURATED” independent and design goods from our city. And I say curated because that HKTDC Design Store at the Convention Center and Hong Kong Airport just DOESNT Cut it. NO Offense to Anyone.

The Gift Shop / 24 - 25 MAY 2013, Tangram Studio, Unit 1701 Chai Wan Industrial City Phase 2 70 Wing Tai Road Chai Wan / Free and Open To The Public / Facebook Page and Instructions for Transportation

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+ Wong Chuk Hang Art Night

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With the Chai Wan Mei galleries and design space unveiling open studio programs for Friday and Saturday, I’d like to highlight another new Art District on Hong Kong Island… the Wong Chuk Hang Art District composed of a group of gallery spaces with include Spring Workshop, Blindspot (annex), Rossi & Rossi, Pekin Fine Arts, Gallery EXIT, and Alisan Fine Arts.

This Thursday night will be their “Art Night” with exhibits by Qui Zhijie, Fang Lu, David Adamo, Christopher Orr, Yang Xinguang, and photographs by Ai Wei Wei, Gu Zheng, Han Lei, Zhao Liang, Qiu Zhijie, and RongRong to name a few. Should be fun. Plus the SPRING space is amazing. (See previous post.)

Wong Chuk Hang Art Night / 23 MAY 2013 Thur 17:00-23:00, 3F Remex Centre 42 Wong Chuk Hang Road (entrance Heung Yip Road) Aberdeen / Free and Open To The Public / Shuttle Bus Available at Art Basel Hong Kong Expo Drive Entrance Starting 18:00 / Weblink

I will see you at all these things… well me or my clones.

JJ.

Para/Site Moves Up With 2012 Art Auction

It’s Fall at the end of the year, and you know what that means… Art Auctions. Yes, we attended the Annual Para/Site Art Auction this year located at Lane Crawford’s very cool One Island South company digs and was hosted by Board of Directors, William Lim of CL3, Yana Peel, Executive Director/Curator, Cosmin Costinas, with live auctioneer, Jehan Chu of Chaiwanese. 

Cosmin and Jehan below. 

It was really interesting to attend this particular auction, especially because i’ve been going to Para/Site auctions ran by Jehan for so many years now. I still remember when the auctions were small and held at the KEE Club back in the day. And now it’s a full dinner affair with friends and supporters. Very neat to see how far Para/Site Art Space and its programs have evolved over the years.

Ignacio checks out works on display for Silent Auction.

Some of my favorite pieces include this abstracted architectural topography by Joao Vasco Paiva, titled High Tide (2012) which sold at live auction for 42K HKD. The work was graciously donated by the artist and Saamlung Gallery.

This metallic skateboard by Olafur Eliasson, Your Mercury Ocean (2009), was donated by Vitamin Creative Space, and sold for 100K HKD.

I really liked Lot 62, a selection of prints by Sunjung Kim, Anton Vidokle, and Nikolaus Hirsch.

This one I liked, a DVD by Ming Wong, called Honeymoon In The Third Space (1999).

A good seller, Heman Chong’s, muted geometric composition from Never Let Me Go (2011), caught my eye. This painting on canvas sold well at 50K, and is a donation from Vitamin Creative Space.

Are you cool on your island? I absolutely loved this work by MAP Office, titled Honeymoon Island (2011), which I hope found a great home via silent auction.

This print, Cheng Ran’s Still of an Unknown Film (2008), sold at 60+K HKD, and a donation by the artist.

And there was no way I can do a post about Hong Kong art, without a work by my favorite artist, Nadim Abbas. This piece, Chernobyl_Core.gif (2012), is a print donated by Abbas and Saamlung Gallery.

The work of emerging artist, Trevor Yeung drew plenty of fans. Here G.O.D.’s Benjamin Lau and Alan Lau admire Yeung’s work, Sleepy bed (Sao Paulo Hostel 1) (2012). Yeung photographs subjects, usually male, all around the world, and turns them into multi-layered compositions which involve the photographic image as well as an overlay of illustration.

Next to the work, Lot 30, is a piece by Antony Gormley. Body XI (2011), was the biggest seller of the night and sold at 160K HKD by an absentee bidder. The work was donated by the artist, and Vitamin Creative Space.

In attendance was artist, Adrian Wong, and Xue Tan. Adrian was actually working on the composition for his Fall 2012 Saamlung show with his rabbit. Dont Ask.

We also spotted Alex Seno and Lane Crawford’s Eliot Sandiford. Thanks Alex for the invite!

Great to finally meet Claudia Albertini of Platform China.

The room was full of super couples as well. There’s no art shindig without the following… Tangram’s Igancio and Paola who will soon be unveilinga new collection in December. Here they are channeling the work of Chow Chun Fai, aptly titled Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera (2011), which sold at live auction for 75K HKD. Perfect.

Supercouple #2, FIOL Prosecco addict Pietro and Whitney of the Gagosian Hong Kong. 

Supercouple #3, Tim and Marc, here standing next to Yuk King Tan’s The Mandate of Heaven (2011). Love.

Supercouple #4, cool peeps Michelle and her husband, Varun. Great to see them here.

Twitter Supercouple Bonus, my gal, artist Yuk King in Tangram. Hello Yuk!

The tables at the canteen.

Whitney’s favorite works.

Pals on my table, Benjamin and Alan. Nice to meet you both!

Para/Site IS Hong Kong’s leading contemporary art space, the oldest, and most active. They exhibit, they publicize, they create discourse, and you wouldn’t think that based on their tiny space in Sheung Wan, that they are paving the way for many emerging artists. The point is, they’re moving spaces and adding curators, and they’re thinking big. Check out the works that were at auction here.

That said if you missed out on the Para/Site auction, but would still love to purchase work as well as contribute to a good cause, the Asia Art Archive Annual Fundraiser site is now up, and you can actually bid on your favorite work online. Yes. Contemporary Art at your fingertips. Many of whom had works that sold well at the Para/Site Auction. Good luck!

ART Para/Site

JJ.

ART HK12 (Part 3): theWanderlister+ Fair Map and Our 2012 Top 10 Galleries You Can’t Miss

In just a few days the fifth edition of the Hong Kong Art Fair, ART HK12, will be landing upon us at the Hong Kong Convention Center located in Wanchai’s picturesque and glorious Victoria Harbour. This year, as i’ve learned from my interview with Fair Director, Magnus Renfrew, there will be over 260 Galleries around the world to exhibit their best collection of new and historic works to collectors based within the Asia-Pacific.

That said, the shear number of works within the Convention Center alone will most likely take up all your four days starting Thursday, but on top of that, there are the talks, the satellite exhibitions, events, and if you’re not from around these parts, I’m sure you will also attempt to fit in the city’s sights, tastes, and of course the shops… and when I say shops… I mean The Gift Shop at Chai Wan Mei Hosted by Tangram.

This year as a Proud Media Supporter to ART HK12, we have put together the first official theWanderlister+ x ART HK12 Fair Map to break down for you our own choice Top 10 Galleries/Artists exhibiting… ie. a list of the galleries that you definitely cannot miss; a handy guide of what I would do and see if I only had about an hour to go check out the whole Fair (which of course I don’t have only an hour… I will be there for all 4 Days + the Vernissage!) Link to the Downloadable .PDF A3-Size Art Map is at the bottom of this post. I’d like to thank friends Natasha Kaye Whiffin and Xue Tan for helping me select a few of the galleries.

Please Note: This our own personal “rule-of-thumb” guide, and by no means reflect the view of Hong Kong Art Fairs / ART HK12. Please DO however see all the works and galleries on exhibit if you have the time to do so. It’s only once a year, so MAKE TIME! This article MAY NOT represent the actual final artists and works represented by each gallery at ART HK12.

+ TheWanderlister+ Asia x ART HK12 Fair Map’s Top 10 Galleries Guide

1_ ART FUTURES: SAAMLUNG (HK) Nadim Abbas + Jon Rafman . Booth AF24

Saamlung announces its inaugural participation in the Hong Kong International Art Fair. Exhibiting in Art Futures, the section of the fair focusing on young galleries and emerging art, the gallery will present a selection of related projects from artists Nadim Abbas and Jon Rafman. Both artists are concerned with the notion of machine vision and the interplay between the image and the physical object, and will exhibit a series of interrelated installations, sculptures, and prints created specifically for the frenetic and consumerist context of a global art fair in the Asian metropolis. (Text by SAAMLUNG)

2_ OSAGE (HK) Roberto Chabet + Louie Cordero . Booth 3A10

Osage Sigma Asia 1 in ART HK12 will showcase the work of 14 artists from Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, China, Myanmar, Thailand, and Indonesia, that show a particular curiosity towards the dark hidden facets in everyday contemporary life. An extension of the show, Osage Sigma Asia 2, will be exhibition concurrently at thier Kwun Tong Gallery in Kowloon. (Text by OSAGE)

3_ David Zwirner (NYC) Yan Pei Ming . Booth 3A07

Yan Pei Ming’s current paintings on exhibit at David Zwirner until June, relate to events in the recent and distant past which extend beyond the depiction of a singular subject to reference broad historical issues and, in the process, the gap that exists between the events and their visualization. Often taking a combination of mass media imagery and his own recollections of a motif as his starting point, Ming thus broadens a traditional understanding of the medium of painting: he refers to his large-scale canvases as “collages” of photographs and memories, while medium-specificity is further cast into question by the fluidity of the artist’s painterly technique, which at times resembles watercolor. While the historical significance of Ming’s chosen subjects is readily apparent, his works resist the traditional heroic connotations of history paintings. The artist’s aforementioned reliance on often blurry mass media source material and personal memory combine to present a sense of elusiveness that is underscored by exaggerated brushwork. Rather than documenting separate events, the paintings suggest an ongoing history in flux. (Text by David Zwirner)

4_ Lisson Gallery (London) Jason Martin + Ai WeiWei . Booth 1AS04

UK Based Jason Martin makes paintings about paint - its materiality, sculptural presence and transformative, alchemical nature. The energy of Martin’s process is palpable in a new series of rich, dark, monochromatic oil on aluminium works. Pushing the boundaries of painting is at the core of Martin’s creative process. These continuing investigations are evinced in a series of vividly intense, jewel-like pure pigment paintings. Taking a basic sculptor’s medium as his starting point, Martin has molded, scraped, and gouged the material to create a dense, turbulent, worked surface.

The exhibition will most likely also include ceramic work made by Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei. Ai Weiwei’s ceramics were produced in 2006 during an intensive working residency in Jingdezhen, the heartland of Chinese ceramic production. The traditional techniques passed on to Ai Weiwei by local craftsmen sparked a radical new direction for the artist and were the genesis of his Sunflowers Seeds installation at Tate Modern. The historical and cultural significance of the materials and techniques Ai Weiwei uses are an essential element of almost all his sculptures. Much of his work with ceramics has involved ready- mades: adapting, painting and destroying valuable ancient urns and vases. In contrast the exhibition at Lisson focuses on sculptures he has created by hand from scratch.

Both Artists are currently exhibiting at Lisson Gallery London and Milan respectively. (Text by LISSON GALLERY)

5_ ShangART (China) Yu Youhan . Booth 3A09

YU Youhan is one of the main artists of Political Pop who emerged in the avant-garde movement in the 1990’s, fusing Chinese iconography and Western artistic expression. His work has had a major impact on the cultural scene, and influenced and inspired a generation of younger artists. YU Youhan’s earlier work is directly influenced by his experiences during the Cultural Revolution, with prominent imagery of political propaganda and socialist realism. He earned fame with his highly acclaimed Mao portrait series. He decorates the iconic images with flowers that blend into the foreground and background. It is not only a decorative gesture, but also an attempt to humanize the late leader. (Text by ShangART)

6_ Greene Naftali Gallery (NYC) Paul Chan . Booth 3A14

Latest Works by Hong Kong born, NYC-based artist; Paul Chan. Expect some works from his 2009 show at Greene Naftali, titled Sade for SADE’s Sake. (More information at Greene Naftali Gallery.)

7_ Silverlens Gallery (Manila) Patricia Perez Eustaquio . Booth 1A01

Patricia Eustaquio works with the idea of memory and nostalgia through painting and sculpture. Eustaquio uses diverse materials such as leather, crochet, ceramic and resin, to convey broken narratives within her varied installations. She has lately been toying with crossovers in design, craft and art, appropriating Dutch classical paintings onto elaborately shaped canvasses, and using crocheted lace for large sculpture. (Text by Pulse Art / Silverlens Gallery ONLINE)

8_ ART HK Projects; 10 New Site Specific Installation Works + Cedric Maridet’s Sound Art

Watch out for 10 new site specific installations made just for the Fair by 10 artists for ART HK12 Projects, curated by ART HK themselves. List of Artists, currently not released so it will be a surprise. Each work will get 100sq.m of Exhibition Space with 10 spaces total throughout Hall 1 and Hall 3 of Fair Grounds. That’s a total of 1000 sq.m. of leasable space donated by ART HK to emergent artists/works. In return each patron gallery will donate transportation and installation of each art work themselves. This is an added bonus to fair goers who are looking for an extra element of surprise/educational component to their visit. Last year the ART HK Projects works by Liu Wei and Nadim Abbas were the most memorable elements in the whole fair.

In addition an Audio Sound Installation by sound artist, Cedric Maridet, will be provided to Fair-goers.

Cedric Maridet’s le son de l’art (or the sound of art) is the result of wanderings in places for art. It demands first an act of refusal by visitors putting on headphones that block out the sounds of the Fair in situ. But this first act is but a preparation for the next entry: into places for art, sounding out within and without the confines of art. The sound of art series reveals the interest in the process of transformation of the work of art by the usually resonant architectural context; steps, soundtracks, voices, are collected during the drifts among the artworks. The interest also lies in the particular situation of the gallery and museum as a conditioning element for the behavior of the audience, through particular ways to move, to walk, to talk. (Text by Soundpocket)

9_ Asia One: Blindspot Gallery (HK) Pengyi Jiang . Booth 1X11

Currently Blindspot Gallery is exhibiting Jiang Pengy’s Luminant Series. Luminant are images of glowing luminance of modern skyscrapers by night in major mainland cities. Against the darkened cityscape, the skyscrapers stand glowing in intense brightness created by overexposure. Such overexposure instills a feeling of departure from reality into the picture, which seems to urge the viewers to contemplate the city’s over-development and the society of spectacle dominated by consumption and mass media. This and photographs from his Unregistered Cities Series will be shown at the fair. (Text by Blindspot Gallery)

10_ Asia One: Yavuz Fine Art (Singapore) Navin Rwanchaikul . Booth 3X09

Born in 1971 in Chiang Mai, Navin Rawanchaikul is an internationally recognised Thai artist of Indian descent who has developed a unique and vast body of works that rely heavily on team spirit and collaboration. Questioning modern systems of artistic production and presentation, Rawanchaikul seeks for ways to put art in touch with the lives of everyday people. Rawanchaikul started to engage in a process of exploring the negotiation between local circumstances and trends of globalisation. The artist is best known for dynamic art practices that involve direct public interventions, social commentary, and an innovative style of integrating community or individual experiences into eccentric fictional tales featuring recurring characters. His oeuvre has grown to encompass a broad array of media including performances, billboards, films, comics, games, merchandises and cocktails, and he has even formed his own party, the Navin Party that aims to bring together fellow Navins from different parts of the world. (Text by Navin Production / Yavuz Fine Art ONLINE)

+ Download theWanderlister+ Asia x ART HK’12 Fair Map for FREE.

theWanderlister+ x ArtHK12_Fair Map Download Link

See you at the Fair!

http://www.hongkongartfair.com

JJ.

A Trifecta Show at OSAGE Kwun Tong by HK’s Contemporary Darlings; Nadim Abbas, Adrian Wong, Magdalen Wong, and Lee Kit

Between Christmas and Hong Kong’s super chilly Chinese New Year weekend in late-January, the city’s local art scene was anything BUT dormant. There are only so many hours during the week and I’m not a full time Wanderlister, but proudly, i’ve done my share of seeing what art shows I COULD quickly attend within the busy weeks that lead up to the Lunar New Year.

In a previous post i’ve listed all the important shows that were unveiled in the past month, and it was quite difficult because most of these shows opened on the same night/weekend with friends and peers participating and showing in each of them. I’ve yet to catch J.J. Ngai’s work of pencils at Voxfire, but I did manage to take a sneak peak at an interesting tri-fecta of exhibits from OSAGE Kwun Tong which all launched on the same night as J.J. Ngai’s show on the 13th of January. Which reminds me, I also need to see SAAMLUNG’s show of King of Kowloon graffiti artist, Tsang Tsou Choi. If you haven’t seen it, please go, and let me know what you think of it! And on top of the shows above, fringe exhibits from the FONTANIAN Open House as well as the M+ Bamboo Theatre which also launched within the same week, my thoughts on both in the next post. So basically overall, Art-wise, Hong Kong was BUZZING. Now let’s get on to the latest happenings at OSAGE!

+ TROGLODYTE SEE THE LIGHT (Adrian Wong and David Boyce / in collaboration with A.Wong’s Affective Portraits Series)

(Photo via OSAGE)

Troglodyte See the Light, a solo exhibition by Adrian Wong (photo, right) in collaboration with David Boyce (photo, left) and Lee Weng Choy, was conceived as a structured means of exploring the boundaries and limitations of language.

Having undergone several prolonged periods of premeditated and situational isolation (via meditation, extended stays in remote areas, and acute bouts of agoraphobia), Adrian Wong became acutely aware of the increasingly fragmented nature of his internal monologue. These breakages from conventional means of communication highlighted the rarely attended-to nature of pre-linguistic thought, the subject of the present investigation.

In classic Adrian Wong fashion, animatronics are involved (anyone remember his Ducks and Dishes at the Louis Vuitton Foundation A Passion for Creation show several years back at the HK Museum of Art?). The piece above titled, Kaspar Hausar, Ramchandara, and Natascha the Dog Girl of Chita, 2011 had three animatronic creatures (turds?) popping up from speakers having a nonsensical human-animal eternal dialogue with each other on loop in one part of the first of two rooms that was his exhibit.

In the second room below, was a bigger version of the creatures speaking the same language as the other three, but was sited moving and shaking violently in the middle of the floor.

On the walls around the creatures is a collection of Affective Portraits depicting Hong Kong’s “whose-who” within the creative/arts community. The subjects sit with expressions that are anything but “happy”, but their various placement on the walls are unsettling and resemble the kind of “portrait shrines” that tend to line homes, of figures religious or otherwise.

The subjects chosen were carefully picked, and pretty much reflect the local art scenes main movers and shakers. For example, The Berger Family above featuring M+’s Tobias Berger and his wife, artist Yuk King Tan, and the Practitioners from MAP Office Below with their children.

As well as familiar faces, Nadim Abbas (whose show is located in the adjacent room), and Kapok Design Store’s Arnault with his partner in the photograph to the most right.

Artist/writer/blogger Xue Tan in the silver frame below.

This same show was actually exhibited last year at ltd Los Angeles, with most of the same major portraits hanging around the same animatronic figures. To me it’s still unclear if there is a direct relation between the two seemingly disconnected works, but for sure both are quirky in the way Adrian Wong works usually are, but with an overall sense of unease and unsettlement as to what message he is ACTUALLY trying to push through in this particular show in juxtaposing these portraits with the creatures.

+ NO LONGER HUMAN (Nadim Abbas, Erkka Nissinen, and Magdalen Wong)

(Photo via OSAGE)

Next up Magdalen Wong (photo, left) returns to Hong Kong for a short while to collaborate with artists Nadim Abbas (photo,right) and Erkka Nissinen (photo, on computer screen) for a group exhibition of new works conceived as an open dialogue concerning the conditions of being human and the “multiplicity of known and unknowable trajectories of human development”.

In the exhibition space, viewers are confronted with Nadim Abbas’ alien landscape, It’s Afternoon in Utopia 2012, a terrain populated by familiar structures that look both formal and organic, a scale model for some b-movie sci-fi film, or an anthropological construct of communal settlement from history, who knows. It’s new. It’s fresh. And quintessentially a true Nadim Abbas piece.

Installation by Magdalene Wong gives us a false sense of escape.

Construct with video Installation, titled Polis, by Erkka Nissinen.

And me, having a toast and drink with Nissinen… via online video chat.

+ HOW TO SET UP A ROOM FOR JOHNNY (Lee Kit)

The only show actually 100% hosted by Osage Kwun Tong is How To Set Up A Room for Johnny by Osage represented artist, Lee Kit (photo, below). (The other shows are collaborative / shared space shows.)

(Photo via OSAGE)

As Lee Kit stated about the piece, “Moving house and looking for a house… always feels like a hotel once you move in, it feels temporary but intimate. Somehow you don’t know when you need to move out. But you need to settle down, and construct your life there, because a lot of things are happening outside.”

This same exhibit was presented within the Art Statements section of Art Basel in 2011. And to create this piece of a typical apartment (size accurate to the general size for a bachelor in Hong Kong), Lee Kit filled the flat with a living room, toilet, bedroom, and small pantry kitchen. Hanging throughout the flat are various hand painted props of exterior scenery, and generic bath and kitchen items, all pastel, all faded, and a barely there objects that make the whole scene seem fleeting as if the room was undergoing a process of erasure.

The placement of this “set” within the gallery’s enormously huge dark space makes the work better appreciated from a distance (ie. photo below) in its totality within the context of its overall scale. Which I think for those who were lounging around within it, on the couch, on the bed, and sitting on the kitchen table, I wouldn’t say lost the point completely, but would have just had a slightly different reading of the whole work.

In any rate, I do appreciate the objects and other knick-knacks that went into the creation of the work, but I appreciate these objects more as blots of color within a provocative pastel canvas, details that are only essential to help complete the overall composition (ie. dont spend time focusing on looking only at the dishes, hand lotion, and chairs for example.)

Spotted at the show, artist/photographer Jeremy who was showing at Fontanian this month with Kitty Wong and designer architect, Tong Hao.

Also spotted Elaine Young wearing a piece of her own collection from her brand LAB-yrinth, an interesting clothing line with a very distinct aesthetic and style which I’ll cover in future posts on this blog.

Don’t miss this show. You have until February 12th.

Osage Gallery Kwun Tong / 5F, Kian Dai Industrial Building, 73-75 Hung To Road, Kwun Tong, Kowloon / Exhibition Dates: 14 Jan - 12 Feb, 2012 / (852) 2793-4817 / Mon-Sun and Public Holidays : 10:00 am - 7:00 pm / OSAGE ONLINE

JJ.

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Your Art Agenda This Week, Wanderlisted 12.01.13 // J.J. Ngai, Nadim Abbas, Adrian Wong, Lee Kit, and Tsang Tsou Choi

The first week of January 2012 was a quiet one, but now before the Chinese New Year, all galleries are back again with full force. Lets check out the best of the best this week. (SAAMLUNG for Saturday night is definitely a shoe-in… but it’s Friday that will get ya… for once I can’t decide which one to go to, so many friends exhibiting on that evening. I definitely will NOT be able to make both NOHO and Kwun Tong shows… what to do?)

+ DICTATION: Works by J.J. Ngai / Voxfire Gallery . Jan 13 

Born in colonial-era Hong Kong, local artist J.J. Ngai has been particularly interested in the recognition of identity, where his subjects are defined by curious experiences between growing up in Hong Kong to time spent studying in the UK.

The latest series of Ngai’s work, DICTATION, he uses basic Western penciling techniques to imitate traditional Chinese brush strokes, and transfers these techniques back into Chinese art. It’s Ngai’s own unique way of learning through mimicking process by other artists to create a humorous discussion in the concept of identities and stereotypes.

Work by J.J. Ngai / 2011

Work by J.J. Ngai / 2011

Work by J.J. Ngai / 2011

Opening Friday, 13 Jan 6PM - 9PM / DICTATION: Works by J.J. Ngai / VOXFIRE Gallery, 1F 52 Gage Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong / Exhibition Dates: 14 Jan - 12 Feb, 2012 / info@voxfiregallery.com / (852)28513385

+NO LONGER HUMAN (Nadim Abbas, Erkka Nissinen, Magadalen Wong), TROGLODYTE SEE THE LIGHT (Adrian Wong), HOW TO SET UP A ROOM FOR JOHNNY (Lee Kit) / OSAGE Kwun Tong . Jan 13

Osage is bringing a triple exhibition for the first month of 2012 including Adrian Wong’s traveling exhibition Troglodyte See the Light; Lee Kit’s Art Statement exhibition How to set up a room for Johnny for Art Basel 2011 and a group exhibition called No Longer Human by Nadim Abbas, Magdalen Wong, and Erkka Nissinen. Opening for all exhibits is this Friday, January 13th.

Adrian Wong / Kaspar Hauser, Ramachandra, & Natascha the Dog Girl of Chita / 2011

Adrian Wong’s solo show was conceived as a structured means of exploring the boundaries and limitations of language. Having undergone several prolonged periods of premeditated and situational isolation (via meditation, extended stays in remote areas, and acute bouts of agoraphobia), Adrian Wong became acutely aware of the increasingly fragmented nature of his internal monologue. These breakages from conventional means of communication highlighted the rarely attended-to nature of pre-linguistic thought, the subject of the present investigation.

Nadim Abbas/ It is Afternoon in Utopia / 2012

No Longer Human, a group exhibition by artists Nadim Abbas, Erkka Nissinen and Magdalen Wong, probes into the processes that reveal and hide our physical and psychological needs and desires. The show is devised and will feature new installation works by all three artists. Departing from the typical exhibition model which dictates that the relationship between the viewer and the artwork should be one of passive contemplation, No Longer Human attempts to create situations in which viewers actively complete the artist’s imaginary. 

How to set up a room for Johnny? was presented in the Art Statements section of Art Basel 2011. Lee Kit created a typical Hong Kong demonstration flat with a living room, a toilet, a bedroom, and a small kitchen. Various hand- painted cloths and cardboard paintings infiltrate this domestic prop for an imaginary character. Lee devises a situation that delves into our consciousness through seeing, feeling, acting, and simply being. Like a sudden epiphany, we are left to deal with our own emotions and memories privately. (All Images and Text via OSAGEARTBLOG)

Opening Friday, Jan 13 6PM - 8PM / Osage Gallery Kwun Tong / 5F, Kian Dai Industrial Building, 73-75 Hung To Road, Kwun Tong, Kowloon / Exhibition Dates: 14 Jan - 12 Feb, 2012 / (852) 2793-4817 / Mon-Sun and Public Holidays : 10:00 am - 7:00 pm / OSAGE ONLINE

+KING OF KOWLOON: Works by Tsang Tsou Choi / Saamlung . Jan 14

Continuing on their efforts to bridge the gap between Space, Architecture, Urbanism, and Art, Saamlung is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of new work from the late Hong Kong outsider artist Tsang Tsou Choi, perhaps best known by the epithet from which this exhibition borrows its title: the King of Kowloon.

From the golden years of midcentury colonial Hong Kong almost to his death in 2007, Tsang was notorious for the distinctive writing he left across the terrain of the city: believing that his family had once been deeded the rights to the land now constituting the core of urban Kowloon, the artist engaged in a monomaniacal project of righting this ancient injustice by executing calligraphy describing his geneaological and political situation on lamp posts, electric utility boxes, fences, walls, and other publicly accessible surfaces from one end to the other of the former British territory, demanding his righteous returns.

(via SAAMLUNG Facebook)


As the first exhibition of work from Tsang Tsou Choi in the commercial gallery context, this project positions him as the historical precedent for an alternative future; that is to say, we trace back to his position a certain rupture within Hong Kong art history by which we might locate in his stance the first properly contemporary artist in a region still haunted by the ideological specters of modernism. The core of the exhibition focuses on a series of some half-dozen pieces in ink on board and cloth, large scale paintings that hold their own within even the most recent discussions of the return to analytical expressionism in non-figurative painting today. Further works on display include a number of pieces in pen on paper and several calligraphic-cum-sculptural interventions carried out on objects like umbrellas, lanterns, and utility boxes.

Opening, Saturday January 14th, 6:00-10:00 / Saamlung, 26/F Two Chinachem Plaza, 68 Connaught Rd. C (135-137 Des Voeux Rd. C.), Central, Hong Kong / Tues.-Fri. 11:00-19:00, Sat. 12:00-18:00 / gallery@saamlung.com / www.saamlung.com 

JJ.

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Making a Stand… On Top of A Million Black Business Cards, at Para/Site

I have to confess, my recent trip to New York City was nothing short of sublime. On the one hand it was completely amazing to be awashed in the kind of culture and history that I have missed by living in Hong Kong (ie. architectures from the early 1900s and museum exhibits that ranged from a Picasso retrospective at the Neue to one by Carsten Holler at the other New), but on the other hand it was all work, and work was everywhere, which meant a commute/taxi to several places in one day, which is manageable in Hong Kong, but completely draining in the City, especially when I was staying in Brooklyn. That said, while it was sad that I wouldn’t able to have this kind of access by living in Hong Kong, not being able to grasp the totality of the city at once, also made me miss Hong Kong by the end of the trip. Manhattan is huge, and there are too many burroughs, districts, people, and places to be in general, and I AM obsessed with mind-mapping so the picture of the city can never be complete in my the way that Hong Kong can be for me.

Hong Kong is a quaint little small town that thinks it’s a big town, and after putting off events/etc for three weeks, this small town had an exhibition worth going to last Friday night when Para/Site’s newest Executive Director, Cosmin Costinas finally curates his first long-awaited show; Two Thousand Eleven. But first I had to meet up with Annie Chau of the Digital Brand Management firm, OscarRichard for drinks at Sheung Wan’s flavor-of-the-moment and Para/Site neighbor, Heirloom.

Heirloom is located in this interesting brick-cladded building that used to be an amazing house called TwoTwoSixHollywood Road by the English Interior firm, Studioilse. It was even featured on DEZEEN!

Before! A Private Residence… (via DEZEEN)

and Now… well. A restaurant/cafe. But really, the whole private residence thing was super luxurious and nice.

The bar and cafe area opens up to the street which is perfect for nice cool evenings, which Friday was. I didn’t really have any food here because we were rushing for the Para/Site show, so all we had time for was wine and cocktails. But I spotted a waiter carrying this which reminded me of the same Corn snack I had at Cafe Habana in the Bowery in New York. I wonder if it tastes the same…

I DO like the street vibe. Here Annie and her cool friend Onyue chat outside…

Onyue on Heirloom’s rocking chair. And why not?

Love the street vibe.

But fun and games aside, it was time to be serious and do a bit of Wanderlisting. So off to the Two Thousand Eleven show we go.

The show is a group exhibition of works by Olga Chernysheva, Heman Chong, Federico Herrero, and John Smith. The space is pretty wide and encompassing in the beginning, defined by the gallery’s spacious white walls, but “something-different” is notably Heman Chong’s piece, Monument to the people we’ve conveniently forgotten (I hate you) 2008 , composed of a million black business cards on the floor that everyone is playfully and comfortably standing on.

The sheer number of this glossy black cards are made more evident as the walls angle and taper to a point on the horizon expressing this perceived path of all the contacts we meet, make, then lose on a yearly basis. Heman Chong is actually an artist, curator, and writer from Singapore, and has most recently represented Singapore in the 50th Venice Biennale, and has had works on exhibit at the NUS Museum in Singapore, and galleries in Milan, Amsterdam, New York, and Berlin.

I really liked walking on all these cards.

Up on the walls were a series of black and white photographs by Moscow-based Olga Chernysheva, titled ALLEY OF COSMONAUTS 2008, 25 images that point to the recent historic collapse of the Soviet Union whose ruins are “still framing our world”, according to Olga.

A video and sound installation was a main attraction on the other wall opposite Olga’s work by British artist, John Smith called Black Tower 1985-1987, which revealed a “mental landscape from the height of Thatcherist Britain, the dawn of an era now ending.” His body of work attempts to subvert the perceived boundaries between documentary and fiction as well as representation and abstraction.

Lastly, Frederico Herrero’s work I almost missed, a site specific intervention at the entrance of the gallery which dissected “art’s vocabulary in approaching the real”.

Overall it was a fun show. People were quite happy to see Para/Site back and buzzing on the scene again in general it seems. I do feel however that Heman’s work clearly overpowered the rest of the pieces (due to sheer number, weight, and size of the piece). All the works are reflective however with a soft political edge. Walking on top of all those black cards I felt was interesting, there was a sense of sturdiness coupled with imbalance, but the base was solid, which ironically reflects Para/Site’s awkward position in a time when it’s seeking to find an independent POV in a city where its art circle is increasingly being defined by politics and market forces. So yes… making a stand is something it needs to do (again) by now, and whether it’s a good start or not, Cosmin’s show is something to stand with.

Fans of Para/Site spotted at the show; full power by the team behind M+, Executive Director Lars Nittve (in the middle) with Head Curator, and ex-Para/Site Director, Tobias Berger.

Photo taken by Nadim Abbas (with me), who will be launching new work with his peers at Osage Kwun Tong on January 13th! Watch for it!

Artist, Yuk-King (left) with architect, Shideh Shaygan (middle).

Familiar faces, Stephanie Moon, handbag designer at KOTUR, with Beatrice Spinello, art director at Tapani/Stiibu who was just ecstatic at the completion of her successful collection of collaborative men’s bags/wallets with Moustache!

Louise of VOID and GRAM Shoes on 15suarestreet and Judith!

Also spotted, Magadalene Wong (who is back to help put together her group show with Nadim Abbas at Osage Kwun Tong), and Natasha K Whiffin (who has yet to give me a tour of the latest exhibition at SAAMLUNG).

Two Thousand Eleven / Para-Site Art Space GF, 4 Po Yan Street Sheung Wan Hong Kong /17 DEC 2011 - 4 MAR 2012 / www.para-site.org.hk

Heirloom / 226 Hollywood Rd., Sheung Wan / 2547-8008 / www.heirloomhk.com

JJ.

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Robin Peckham Launches Saamlung, an Experimental Gallery and Collaborative Space in Hong Kong

Nadim Abbas, I Would Prefer Not To, 2009, Digital photograph (C-print), 42 x 64 cm

Critic and curator, Robin Peckham, announces the launch of Saamlung, a new gallery and project office located in Hong Kong’s commercial district. The gallery presents work by emerging and historically significant artists from greater China and around the world in concise solo projects, curated group exhibitions, publications, and other satellite events.

The aim of Saamlung is to fill a certain gap through intellectually rigorous collaborations with a core set of artists through research-driven and focused works reflecting an ever shifting global visual culture to tell the story of a cosmopolitan present. Artists to be featured with Saamlung, include Qiu Xiaofei, Nadim Abbas, Matt Hope, Adrian Wong, and Yang Xinguang, and an extensive roster of artists from across Asia and the international contemporary art map via solo and group shows.

RELATED ARTICLE: Nadim Abbas, Versed in the Subverse

João Vasco Paiva, Not Yet Titled, 2011

Although the full opening of the gallery is in February of 2012, there will be two pre-openings from artists João Vasco Paiva and Charles LaBelle respectively. João Vasco Paiva’s Palimpseptic will run from 18 November- 5 December 2011. Charles LaBelle’s Guilty will run from 9 December - 7 January 2011.

For more information on the works and the gallery, please visit www.saamlung.com / Located at 26/F, Two Chinachem Plaza, 68 Connaught Rd. C., Central, Hong Kong / Tues-Fri 11-7 Sat 12-6

JJ.

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ArtHK11 (Part 7): Nadim Abbas, Versed in the Subverse

One of the best things this year about ArtHK11, is the the pure joy of being able to root for friends, especially artist friends who A) Create art I actually like, and B) whose career i’ve pretty much followed for a few years before the glitzy shows and the crazy openings.  And before Nadim Abbas was a featured artist in this year’s ArtHK11, with no less than three opening in the city, he was a guy who I knew, who I kept seeing at different events, get togethers and things, who made great funny sculptural pieces with a kind of twisted sense of humor that was right up my alley.  And the best thing about him now, compared to him back then, is that he’s pretty much stayed the same guy (ie. non of the big fat ego i’ve seen that usually comes with the big fat paycheck… you know who you are), but whose hopeless self-depricating energy has been refocused to make more works that are as outrageous as they always were, in scales big and small. xJJ

————————————————-

W+: I still remembered one of your first big shows, a group show in ParaSITE Art Space in 2008, I think it was called DIS PLAY where you formulate pipes in a very familiar shape which allowed the user to roll Chinese blue ceramic balls through it where it would obviously smash on the ground to break into little ceramic pieces. It made a big mess, but the kids loved it because they could break things.  Then there was the Louis Vuitton show where you had those little Gundam Figures. There’s obviously a narrative but each piece is completely different from the last. Where do these ideas come from, where do you come up with the story?  Are the works really that different? What connects them?

Ornament & CrimeMixed media (PVC tubing, ceramic “lucky balls”, laser-jet on transparency and tracing paper) / Dimensions variable / 2008 / DIS PLAY Group Exhibition


NA: Looking back, I would say that a lot of the projects that I end up pursuing can be connected to certain very trivial moments in my day to day life.  For instance, I once (many years ago) wondered if it was possible to be like a vampire and not see oneself in a mirror.  From this emerged a whole string of works that used the notion of mirroring to describe the elusive nature of the image and perhaps even memory itself.  

With the work for the DisPlay show, the starting point was the moment I came across those kitschy ceramic balls that were being sold in a porcelain shop primarily for tourist/expat consumption.  Since they are supposedly viewed as auspicious symbols of good luck (the spheres represent “completeness”) I decided to reverse (but not refute) this logic by using them like sacrificial offerings that tumbled out of the PVC pipe structure; which was made to resemble a cross between an altar and an execution device.  Facing this “shrine” to the destruction of completeness were images of different forms of execution, from the gas chamber to the guillotine…  The kids of course, never noticed the images on the wall, since they were only interested in smashing the balls!

I Would Prefer Not To / (Rorschach) / Aluminium window frames & grates fitted w/ black mirrored glass / 45x80cm each / Louis Vuitton at HK Art Museum

(MCMI-III Scales) / Vitrine, action figures / 95x95x8cm / 2009 / Louis Vuitton at HK Art Museum

The work with the Gundam figures coincided with an interest in the language of clinical psychology, where I projected the certain psychological characteristics onto certain figures.  All of this all started with the blacked out windows that were shown in the same installation, and the day that I noticed how the symmetrically patterned aluminium window grates that we see all around the city resemble the patterns of the Rorschach test.  The use of toy figures in the other work is really a kind of variation on this idea.

Although outwardly, each project appears very different from the other, I think there are a number of things that I keep coming back to, almost pathologically it seems… one of these is the question of the mirror image, and another might be this persistent spector of death that hovers over everything.  It is certainly a cliche to be discussing big themes like death via art, yet it is also the one thing that the living have in common!  In some sense I am also fascinated by the pithy truths of these cliches.

W+: You’re trained as a sculptor, but you definitely do not work 3D in a classical sense, you seem to set things up, like a scenario? Do you like to play games with the Audience and the Visitor?  Is there a joke?

SSFU / Mixed media  / Dimensions variable / 2011 / Love the Future Show by Art Citizens, Art East Island (see article on this show here)


NA: That is very true - although I have been trained to think spatially, it is always more in the sense of preparing a space like a set designer prepares a movie set.  Objects then are usually of interest for me in so far as they trigger some sort of imaginary or hallucinatory identification from the viewer, in the form of a memory, or “deja vu” for instance.  In order to acheive this effect, it is necessary to play games with audience expectations, to make them look and then look again; like the way Hitchcock uses suspense in his movies.  There are of course a totally different set of rules to deal with when one is working with live physical space as opposed to cinematic space-time.

W+: You also split your time doing other things, can you talk about your music your band, A Roller Control and how you like to split your time generally between art and music?

NA: (I have a) role as vocalist and occasional keyboard player in A Roller Control.  We have been recording an album over the past few months, which will be released this fall.  Since we all have other projects on the boil, we decided not to play any gigs until the album is completed.  Recording is a very different and exacting process (compared to the regular chaos of playing gigs), which has allowed us to fine tune many aspects of our sound - I’m very excited to hear the final outcome.

A Roller Control, circa April 2010 at Grappa’s Cellar /  http://www.myspace.com/arollercontrol


W+: Is Hong Kong really the city for you? If so what is it about Hong Kong that makes you stay here, do you sometimes wonder about living/working somewhere else?

NA: Quite simply, Hong Kong is my hometown - I was born here and I speak Cantonese.  Certainly there are many other places that I would like to live and work, but I have only realistically thought about these so far in terms of short term visits and residencies.  In one way or another, unless it gets wiped out by a nuclear explosion, it seems that HK will always be a kind of base for me, both practically and emotionally.

W+: You exhibited in multiple places/venues during ArtHK11, one was the very site specific Marine Lover and the other one in Chai Wan Art East Island… can you please tell me briefly about each work. And where did you get the idea for each piece. Obviously one is a singular show and one is a group show did this help skew your strategy?

NA: The two works arose out of very different circumstances - the planning for Marine Lover started months in advance, whereas the photographs for the Chai Wan Art East Island show took only a couple of weeks to work out and produce.  To start with the former: Marine Lover began as a proposal for the special projects section of the art fair.  Gallery EXIT assisted me with the application and the project was most generously sponsored by Archtisans, a subsidiary of AEDAS (the architectural firm).  Initially, my idea was to construct a free standing corridor that diverted the flow of people walking around the fair.  The fair organizers came back to us proposing that we use a narrow 60 feet corridor sandwiched between two booths beneath a fire curtain, which would normally be left empty.  Although this changed my original premise for the work, I became interested in the notion of producing an installation that was fairly large in scale, yet somewhat hidden amidst the hustle and bustle.  As we know, this corridor was populated with a colony of custom made resin coral, which is related to my recent interest in creating artificial landscapes out of the generic images that circulate of the natural wonders of the world.

What’s in there?

Oh I see.

Close Up.

Marine Lover / Mixed media  (polyresin coral casts, fluorescent black lights, plywood, door frames, mirror) / 300(h) x 100(w) x 1900(d) cm / 2011 / ArtHK11 Commission

While Marine Lover was in full production mode, I got a call from the artist Kacey Wong about a show called “Love The Future” that took place in Chai Wan.  In terms of what I contributed, my strategy was very different, not so much because it was a group show, but because of different political context with which it was being presented.  The work consisted of close up photographs of letters taken from the entrance signage to China’s Office of the Commissioner of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong.  Here, I think the statement/gesture is much more transparent: it is a playful subversion of a particular kind of official language.  With Marine Lover, the gesture is purposefully more ambiguous and open ended, and left for the viewer to take elsewhere; an attempt to engineer an encounter rather than a statement.

W+: Ive noticed that a few Local Artists are quite different now than they were maybe 2 or 4 years ago.  Obviously the eye is on China and Hong Kong, and local artists like yourself were able to catch the wave of interest in our art scene, ie. youve become successful in your own right as have others.  What ive noticed is that a few artists have changed because of their success. How Have you changed if any… at all?

NA: That would depend on how one gauges one’s success - so far I have certainly been very lucky to have had the opportunities to show my work in numerous different capacities, from group shows to a solo and then the recent large scale work at the fair.  But all in all, I still feel that I am only chipping away at the tip of the iceberg, and that there is so much more that can be done.  Commercial success and and rave reviews are all very nice, but what I really get a kick out of is being able to channel my deepest darkest perversions into a socially accepted situation - hopefully that will never change.  Who knows, if I didn’t become an artist I could’ve been a serial killer, or a taxidermist…

Artist Nadim Abbas is currently exhibiting in a group show at C&G Artpartment in Prince Edward, titled “6,000 Conceptual Art Proposal Exhibition" in response to the Government’s $6,000 Handouts.  Additionally expect a three-person show by the end of the year with Nadim, Magdalen Wong (Who just had a solo show at the Goethe), and Finnish Video Artist, Erkka Nissinen.  

http://www.galleryexit.com

xJJ