Springtime Distractions via Popstraction Show at Gagosian

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2013 is all about balance, which means less events, more time spent at exhibitions when no one is around, and much more energy spent on writing, which is truly the fun part of all this. This is why I opted out of Gagosian Hong Kong’s opening reception last week, and opted in for a Saturday morning private tour with gallerist Whitney Ferrare, and Instagram-Idol, writer Blue Carreon at the new Popstraction show instead.

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Thankfully for me, the Gagosian, has the clout, the scale, the space, and the position to bring to Hong Kong the kind of exhibitions actually worth writing about. Popstraction is a curation of 11 pop/abstract artists of note, from masters to young stars. Out of the 11, seven have never exhibited before in Asia, which make it a treat for HK artists and creatives who have never seen any of these works by these artists before. Popstraction makes relevant the concepts that contemporary artists are fixated on now, while placing the pieces in parallel to pop art from the late 70s and 80s.

The oldest works in the show are the two paintings by Andy Warhol (below) from 1979. The Warhol pieces, both titled “Shadow”, open the exhibit in the gallery’s main entrance foyer.

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This initial connection with Warhol is very relavant for HK now because a retrospective on his work is currently on exhibit at the Hong Kong Museum of Art. This allows for some to make an immediate visual link between the works that Warhol used to do, and the subject matters developed by other artists in the show; like mass production, consumerism, geometric and formal repetition, color as classification, object reduction, and more… which all lie in the realm Pop Art, Abstraction, or both depending on the attitude of the works. 

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For example the pencil shaved pieces which make up Piotr Uklanski’s 2012 floral-looking series is a perfect combination of Abstraction and Pop Art due to its familiarity with current graphic motifs, repeated in wildly eye-catching bold colors on a bright red wall.

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Yet on the opposite wall, the selection of found objects of “Trash” by a young Dan Colen, makes an edgy Asian debut which critiques the precise determined compositions by Uklanski in the same space, while challenging Hong Kong’s art patrons to an unexpected assemblage of found objects.

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This sculptural piece by John Chamberlain below called “CONEYISLANDDORIC 2008” is a miniature version of works in much larger scale than this. The forms vary, but the medium of automobile parts and the tectonic choreography with their bright layer of neon colors grounds the piece, thus making whatever it is hit close to home. From the crash and burn, something brand new blooms.

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We all liked this perfectly reductionist work by the late Steven Parrino called “Touch and Go, 1989-1995”.

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As well as this great piece by Albert Oehlen from 2012.

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However, not all works are as optimistic… 

This particular composition of human like forms trapped in a tar-like texture while reaching out from the canvas is also by Uklanski, the same artist which brought us the beautiful pencil shavings in the same show.

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Immediately adjacent are works by Richard Prince which deal with the allure of the luxury jewelry line, “Tiffany’s”, and its brand’s image via print and pattern repetition. 

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Other works in the show include, Richard Artschwager’s “Granite Chair, 2010”, another reductionist piece. Artschwager passed away just this year. Shhh… this piece is actually a laminate on wood base…. which I guess is what makes it “pop”. I like it actually.

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There is yet another work by Uklanski (again) from 2012, a big pink dye on cotton textile. Between his previous works outside the show, the pencil shavings, the humanoid forms in tar, and this tie-dye number, I’d call Uklanski the James Franco of the Art World. Look him up on Google, and you’ll know why I said that.

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My least favorite pieces were these two works Piero Golia, another young gun who works across various mediums. These “Constellation Paintings” from 2010, are his possessions from the damage occurred in his home. They are salvaged debris encased in perpetuity within resin.

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As we walked out, M+ Curator, Tobias Berger, walked in to take a looksie himself. (Saturday must be the best time to go to Gagosian for everybody I suppose!)

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It’s Springtime so the show was a bit fun, a bit retro, and I have to say a tad of a visual gamble for the Hong Kong crowd. I DO however think these kinds of exhibitions, no matter how tightly or loosely curated, are needed in this city. If only for our own artists and creatives to see more works by artists who have made an impact within their own spheres on the other side of the globe.

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You know what I always say, cross pollination brings a better discourse in the end. And I think everyone can agree, cross pollination is necessary for any holistic art community of any merit. Here’s hoping for a reactionist export of ideas and concepts from our own homegrown artists to the world… if only to return the favor.

VISIT POPSTRACTION at Gagosian HK / 7F Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, HK

JJ.

Take a Time Out, Literally

Last week Time Out Hong Kong celebrated its 100th Issue at the Pawn which signifies a milestone not just for the magazine, but that Hong Kong is a world city worthy of a bi-weekly magazine of Time Out’s stature.

100th Issue Party at The Pawn (viaTIMEOUTHK)

Like you, my relationship with Time Out Magazines began even before it landed in Hong Kong. I remember the days when I used to visit my sister in New York City. And because she was too busy with work, she relied on that magazine to baby sit me during the day. Basically, my trips to New York as a teenager… from finding out the best way to book tickets for Rent, knowing the cheapest way to see exhibits at the Guggenheim, finding the number for reservations at the Brasserie, and knowing when was the best time go to Sarabeth’s for brunch, were all due to Time Out Magazine. This was the age before Google Search on Phones, Foursquare, and Open Rice Apps, mind you. And now we’re lucky to have it in Hong Kong!

Time Out New York, the Classic.

Since its launch, Time Out HK has had a solid run with some expected ups and downs as it gained its footing. Some weeks were more hard pressed for headlines and content than other weeks. All that changed; however, when last year on 4th of July 2011, a front cover interview by Time Out’s resident Fashionista, Kawai Wong, with ‘THE’ Tom Ford dropped on Hong Kong liked a bomb. The article to this day still gives Tai Tai’s something to talk about over tea. But basically Kawai gets Mr. Ford unhinged, which obviously doesn’t take much according to the article. The questions he was asked were in regards to the “Asian Market” as it relates to his design point-of-view. His answers were interesting to say the least.

The full interview with Tom Ford is available online to read.

With that article, Time Out Hong Kong finally found its stride and purpose and has been reporting more on issues of real interest to local Hong Kongers, on topics related to pop and political culture. One of the most shared articles on Facebook of late was the magazine’s expose on The Men Who Rule Hong Kong, a general summary of the handful of families who basically own the entire city due to their monopolization of Trade and Real Estate. In any rate, every week there are good and useful reads, and while a few of the content are available online a day or two after the new issue is released, nothing beats spending that extra 18bucks of pocket change to purchase the physical magazine, and flipping through it for wherever you need it to BE in Hong Kong.

TOP 5 Reason to Read This Week’s Time Out Hong Kong

+ Q+A With… Me. The Wanderlister!

(Image Above viaTIMEOUTHK, Photograph by Calvin Sit)

Okay please NOTE, Time Out HK did NOT force me to write this post. hehe. I wrote it myself, yes… to entice you to go out and buy a copy, but also gave me a great excuse to write about a Magazine I’ve had a relationship with since I was a teenager. And to finally be profiled by this magazine, or even be associated with the title, is a cool thing indeed. That said, the interview answers so many questions about why I do what I do, and if blogging is REALLY a full time job (It’s not. I’m a designer and architect by day, and blogging is a not-so-small-hobby at Night.) It’s all there. Everything you’ve wanted to know about me and theWanderlister+ Asia. :)

+ Casey Lau and that GeoExpat Guy

My interview is actually one of six profiles by Time Out HK’s Digital Operations Director, James Sibley. His whole interest in the profiles was a general canvassing of the current state of HK’s Social Media scene, from content creators, to bridge makers, to community oriented digital servicing, all the personalities are there. Above, Casey Lau poses with Gene Soo, Jon Buford, and Daniel Cheng representing StartUpsHK. I met Casey through my association with the #HKSocialButterflies, an online community forum on Facebook meant to connect and strengthen HK’s Social Media to help formulate any future collaborations, projects, and social gatherings.

Additionally, Shri Chauba of GeoExpat was also profiled, which is pretty big, especially since they’ve been my go-to website for EVERYTHING since moving to Hong Kong. Read the article to find out more about where they are right now as general startup, how to run an online business, and which cities they’re branching off to in the near future (surprisingly it’s NOT China.)

+ Shu Qi

Time Out Hong Kong extends its arm to interview personalities and celebs in the Asian Region to cater to all us expat Cinephiles who are into Chinese Cinema and Entertainment. From Eason to Edison Chan, from Daniel Wu to Maggie Q, we can pretty much have a juicy interview in ENGLISH about our favorite stars. This week, acclaimed Taiwanese Actress Shu Qi discusses her latest critically lauded film, The Second Woman and how it feels like to straddle the lines as both Asia’s premier Pop and Art House Film princess.

+ Anthony Hill / Hill Menswear

Finally Anthony Hill managed to launch a bespoke menswear line last year, and this week he speaks with Kawai Wong about the successful HILL Line, stressing the fact that he’s not designing formal suiting, but an elevated look for “Casual Fridays”. He’s designing for the Gap consumer who is in search for a better cut, quality, and style. This interview is another reason to pick up Time Out HK’s physical copy, because it’s not available online. For everything else, you can follow Anthony on Twitter, via @HillMenswear.

5) Whitney Ferrare / The Gallerist

My friend, Ben Brown Fine Art’s Whitney Ferrare (pictured above with DJ Angus Wong), just recently jump started an art-based column FOR Time Out HK, titled The Gallerist. By day you may find her frazzled managing one of Hong Kong’s top fine arts galleries, and by night (when not out partying) she will be most likely find herself deep in thought for this column. This week she addresses the complaint that Hong Kong is a “cultural desert”, or a “desert for artists”, which is quite timely since I just mentioned this briefly in my interview. A Very insightful article indeed with a few comments online.

And above all, plenty of activities, performances, art, and dining destinations are listed in each of the latest Time Out Hong Kong magazines. If you want a head-start, you’ll need to run to the nearest bookstore to grab yourself a hot new copy of Time Out’s 101st issue. This one you cannot miss.

TIME OUT HK ONLINE / TIME OUT HK FACEBOOK / TIME OUT HK TWITTER / Time Out Hong Kong is Available at All Major Bookstores.

JJ.

Champers + Art + Street Food, and it’s Only Wednesday

Wednesday nights are usually a quiet night for me, but one Wednesday earlier this month was a different story.  We were invited to take a look at a fresh new travel photography exhibit at the Culture Club by Architect-slash-Photographer, Viviano Villareal. 

Viviano’s Photographs. Red Series.

But before this exhibit, we had a stop over at our favorite new restaurant, Madam Sixty Ate, for a bit of a fizzy toast and a selection of Chef Woodyard’s delectable homemade sausages for bride-to-be, HK’s food critic Angie Wong, on her fab engagement.

Angie entertaining guests.

Also spotted at Madam Sixty Ate were figures from the Art scene here in Hong Kong, like old buddy Jehan Chu of Vermillion Art Collections. 

Additionally, Angie introduced us for the first time to a really cool and funny gal, who is herself a Hong Kong local that speaks fluent Cantonese… Ben Brown Fine Art’s, Whitney Ferrare,  (pronounced exactly like the sports car) with DJ Angus Wong on the Left.

After drinks we rushed on over to the famous Culture Club to take a peek at Viviano Villareal’s Photographic journeys proudly on exhibit, which literally took up all of the gallery’s wall spaces exhibiting the whole month of July.

Inside, the mostly red photographs act as a base matching the red HK market lamps that fill the space. 

The artist’s statement on the series refers mainly to the exhibit’s 4 thematic colours (red, black, orange, and white), reflecting their frequent use and visibility on his travels.

Black Series.

And a few of the prints hanging on the walls;

Viviano (middle) entertaining guests.

Supporters from Viviano’s studio, Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) Hong Kong, were all there that evening to support his work. Inge (middle) and Roberto (right).

Of course, the best part about a relaxed Wednesday night out on the town in Hong Kong is the option to go Street Side Noodles and everyone wanting to do it with you.  This very famous noodle cafe on Elgin street still stands there to this day. I wonder if they are rent controlled…

The beef sinews with Flour noodles, soup, and San Miguel Beer was as good that day as it had always been been… and as cheap.

Conversation ended with architects from OMA and RMJM discussing the West Kolwoon Project, giving thoughts and answers that may really surprise. But this is another subject matter for another article.

Viviano Villareal Bueron was born in Mexico and has traveled the world while working with various Architectural firms in the USA, Chile, the Netherlands, Denmark, Taiwan, China, and now Hong Kong.  He currently works with the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA).  Viviano’s Travel Photographs  can be seen at www.cultureclub.com.hk / 15 Elgin Street, Soho / Mon-Thur 2-10pm and Fri-Sat 2:30-11pm / Viviano Villareal’s Website

Last Photo. Orange Series.


xJJ