So. I visited 20 exhibitions in one week. Why am I saying that? It’s not that I want to brag about it (well, maybe just a little bit) but I am just—rather straightforwardly—hinting to you that there are a lot of exhibitions to see right now. Yes, a lot of them are by appointment but I have faith in you, my dear reader. Go see them, but don’t repeat my mistake: take an umbrella, rainy season has begun.
William Kentridge: Weigh All Tears
Why: I always wanted to be one of those people who can easily quote something suitable for every situation. Unfortunately my memory has its own opinion on what to store and when to share it. But luckily for me there are some exclusions and I am going to indulge—or torture—you in, not one, but two quotes that came to my mind upon seeing this exhibition.
“There’s the story, then there’s the real story, then there’s the story of how the story came to be told. Then there’s what you leave out of the story. Which is part of the story too.” —Margaret Atwood.
“People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it’s the other way around.” — Terry Pratchett.
Silhouettes, historical figures, maps, and simplified forms—are all telling a story through an iteration. It feels like a solid theatrical performance: a build-up of scale, repetition of details and rhyming of symbols culminate in powerful video art (take it from me, a person who believes that video art is one of the most uncomfortable forms of art for viewing in a gallery). History consists of endless stories, amplified and contradictory. History is also never consistent, the story, on the other hand, is. So to make sense of the exhibition you have to make your own story of what you’ve seen. Personally, I am planning to go see it again.
When: 17 March – 29 May
Where: Hauser & Wirth, 14/F, H Queen’s, Central
Why: The title is not only a tribute to the printing past of the neighbourhood—Central and Sheung Wan had a lot of printing companies back in the 1960s and 70s—but also a reference to the sounds of printing press, the noise of metal types being combined for typesetting in letterpress, and of course the clickety-clack of a typewriter—plenty of sounds associated with different printing processes. Some of the installations are literally littera-related but some explore the various input methods of mark-making and trace-leaving. And of course some of the works are prints. Because recursion.
When: 10 March – 23 April
Where: Karin Weber Gallery, 20 Aberdeen Street, Central
Why: A spectre is haunting the world—the spectre of Colonialism. (See: I have even more quotes for you). A lot of issues, problems and traumas can be traced back to the stories of war, forced misplacement, and slavery. Nevertheless a lot of families started new chapters in new places, creating new narratives in their new homes. The experience of growing up in these mostly African and Asian diasporas differs but there’s an overlapping opportunity and desire to find more about your ancestors’ land, not necessarily to return there but to place it in your complex identity.
It’s a big exhibition with a lot of participating artists so I do recommend asking for a thorough tour.
When: 22 March – 14 May
Where: Ben Brown Fine Arts, 201, The Factory, 1 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang
Jules de Balincourt: Birds on a Boat
Why: Usually when I see the juxtaposition of people and landscapes I can only see it as a reminder of human’s minuscule and unimportant presence in the face of something grandiose and very much long lasting. To my own surprise, the people in these paintings seem not opposed to nature but rather are a part of the landscapes, existing in them and wandering around in exploration or transit. Some of the paintings feature human bodies, abstracted and landscape-ish, for the lack of a better word. Loved the energy and colours.
When: 18 March – 28 April
Where: Pace Gallery, 12/F, H Queen’s, Central
Why: Here’s the peculiar and funny trick your brain plays with your perception. You’ve seen these meticulously layered and richly detailed still life paintings before, so you think you see all those leaf veins and tiny insects but as soon as you move closer you only see loose brushstrokes and brushed aluminium. Our visual memory, expectations and projections are all part of what we see.
Time was used by old masters to build up the layers of glazes, tiny imperfections were put as memento mori message for the viewer, now the “distracted” image itself is a reminder of vita brevis. Luckily ars longa.
When: 25 March – 14 May
Where: Simon Lee Gallery, 3/F, Pedder Building, Central
Roger Ballen & Andrew Luk: ZODIAC
Why: I love seeing artists respond to other artists’ work without overtly direct homage and citation. Staying true to his explorative practice and playing around with themes of man-made and natural, with the addition of historical and societal references, Luk managed to create works that rhyme with the sarcastic and observant photographs by Roger Ballen. Twelve photographic works, twelve zodiac animals—a direct reference to astronomical observance—are in dialogue with The Refrigerator of Curious Cosmologies, which is installed with navigational and time sensing devices. As for the meaning behind the captivating display of fake durians—I’ll leave it for you to discover.
When: 2 April – 7 May
Where: Boogie Woogie Photography, The Loft, Wong Chuk Hang