I dedicate this column to those who still can look at art without getting nausea.
What an art marathon it was! I am personally still in a very post-art week mood, I have definitely seen more than I could digest and process. But just like a wholesome and gentle stretch is important after an intense workout—we can slowly start returning to our socially accepted aesthetic dependency. Fear not, we’ll start gradually. No shockingly intense themes, nothing too complicated or extreme (well, almost…there are no barriers for a wandering mind and vivid imagination).
Why: Step into a tranquil and playful garden and enjoy cute cartoonish creatures, peeking from ferns here and there. They are a bit recursive: their shapes remind me of simplified stones of a traditional Japanese rock garden while the surface mimics the raked wavy pattern.
And as Zen gardens are meant for contemplation this one is definitely meant to be photographed from all angles. (Not the biggest fan of art selfies but in this case the facial expressions are so expressive that I find the urge to mimic them almost irresistible—but no, I won’t show you my attempt).
When: 26 May – 7 July
Where: WOAW Gallery, G07, The Galleria, 9 Queen’s Road Central, Central
Cheung Tsz Hin: spinelessly planting
Why: I know it should be about plants and flowers, but for me it’s an ode to light: light that glints, glistens, glitters, gleams. Golden sunshine, that is adding violet to shadows and gilding leaves, turning glass into diamonds and drying clothes into glowing garments. And yes, of course there are plants and flowers, growing and blossoming, hiding in shadows and basking in light.
I visited the exhibition on a gloomy rainy day—the contrast was striking.
(Also can’t stop saying it again and again—what a treat to be able to witness the artist’s style and technique developing through the years!)
When: 12 May – 25 June
Where: Contemporary by Angela Li, 248 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan
Why: Created during the pandemic, these paintings definitely contain the weight of uncertainty and unease, while also portraying and reflecting different aspects of the psyche, where the duality and complexity of human experiences plays an important role. In being isolated, there’s some amount of freedom of self-exploration, in happy moments there’s some grieving upon impermanence, in good news there’s some fear of inevitability of change, in how others see us and how we perceive ourselves there’s some percolation. Everything contains multitudes, and these multitudes include opposites.
I feel that apart from the deep psychological and philosophical themes, the striking colour palette and marvelously precise linework is absolutely deserving of praise and admiration.
When: 21 May – 9 July
Where: Perrotin Hong Kong, 807, 8F, K11 Atelier, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Arlene Shechet: Moon In The Morning
Why: Organic forms and textures are mixed and juxtaposed with industrial materials and geometrical shapes. Are those some coral-like organisms overtaking and occupying manmade constructions? Or maybe they are animated objects caught in the process of shapeshifting? Lumpy lichens migrating over the painted and carved wooden surface? Who knows. But the sculptures are astonishingly vibrant and dynamic—just what’s needed to cheer you up and keep you focused. Spend some time with them and don’t miss smaller details!
When: 20 May—30 June
Where: Pace Gallery, 12F, H Queen’s, 80 Queen’s Road Central, Central
Un Cheng: What’s There When You Ain’t Home
Why: Empty landscapes of Iceland, sometimes eerie and melancholic, rhyming with city scenes from Sham Shui Po, a neighbourhood that even in its real-life presence can give you a very urban fantasy feeling. All of the paintings look to me like windows to some sort of mystical parallel worlds, co-existing with ours, reflecting and intertwining with it.
Since the texture is so luxurious it takes some time to gather all the details in a coherent narrative, so that’s where the paintings’ titles really help to get a hint on what’s depicted—most of the time.
When: 24 May—9 July
Where: Blindspot Gallery, 15/F Po Chai Industrial Building, 28 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang
Tsuyoshi Maekawa: Selected Works 1958–2018
Why: Peaceful, elegant and texturally rich artworks, while also a very educational exhibition because the evolution of style is so visible. Tsuyoshi Maekawa was part of the second generation of Gutai artists, and I would absolutely love to have a chance to quote part of the Gutai Art Manifesto (1956):
Let’s bid farewell to the hoaxes piled up on the altars and in the palaces, the drawing rooms and the antique shops.
They are monsters made of the matter called paint, of cloth, metals, earth, and marble, which through a meaningless act of signification by humans, through the magic of material, were made to fraudulently assume appearances other than their own. These types of matter [busshitsu], all slaughtered under the pretense of production by the mind, can now say nothing.
Lock up these corpses in the graveyard.
Gutai Art does not alter matter. Gutai Art imparts life to matter. Gutai Art does not distort matter.
In Gutai Art, the human spirit and matter shake hands with each other while keeping their distance. Matter never compromises itself with the spirit; the spirit never dominates matter. When matter remains intact and exposes its characteristics, it starts telling a story and even cries out. To make the fullest use of matter is to make use of the spirit. By enhancing the spirit, matter is brought to the height of the spirit.
That’s why the material matters so much in Gutai art, that’s why the movement was so radical.
What the viewer sees is a dialogue between artist and material, an exploration in the diversity of existence. Maybe that’s why sometimes it feels like the chosen material or medium is collaborating eagerly with the artist, playing along and helping to find new possibilities to be shown.
Burlap is a favourite material of Tsuyoshi, so you can see it in its full glory.
When: 21 May – 24 September
Where: Axel Vervoordt Gallery, 21/F, Coda Designer Centre, 62 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang