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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We all liked this perfectly reductionist work by the late Steven Parrino called “Touch and Go, 1989-1995”.
As well as this great piece by Albert Oehlen from 2012.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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