Saturday, April 25, 2015

Artist Sharing Session at YY9 Gallery

On Saturday 28th March I joined an artist sharing session at the YY9 Gallery which coincided with the 10th Anniversary Exhibition.
A small but enthusiastic group of participants attended including Movana Chen, Norman de Brackinghe, Galen Tse, Chan Sai Lok, Faan Cyran, Francis Yu, Keith Wong and Ling Lai.

We discussed topics such as the examples of our work in the current exhibition, the recent experience of ArtBasel / Art Central, artist's contracts with galleries, art education and other related subjects.
A nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

March Art Madness in Hong Kong

Due to ArtBasel and its rival(?) ArtCentral being held in March, many groups and galleries shifted their plans to coincide thereby creating an overload of events and shows that was almost impossible for people to keep up with.
Instead of spacing out events throughout the year that would allow many more people to attend, especially the smaller events, the clustering together of everything in March meant that most people had to choose and so many galleries and lesser-known events lost out. It was done for 'commercial reasons' I was told and yet I wondered how much commercial sense it made if you immediately rule out a large percentage of your possible audience?

I actually missed ArtBasel this year as I had a ticket for the only free time-slot I had (Tuesday afternoon) but late on Tuesday morning I had an urgent document to work on that kept me stuck at my desk until it was too late.

The previous Saturday I had visited ArtCentral and came away with less enthusiasm than I had arrived with. In my opinion these Art Fairs are not for viewers, they are for galleries and are essentially trade fairs. I entered the large white tent feeling enthusiastic and eager to see the work. However, by the time I had wandered around the many booths seeing similar work by the same artists that I had seen for the last few years, along with new work that was reminiscent of work I had seen before yet presented as though it was unique and ground-breaking (why does it always have to be 'unique and ground-breaking?), I finally arrived at the exit and felt glad to be leaving. The one breathe of fresh air was in the 'Flowers' booth where I saw an Eduardo Paolozzi sculpture. The bronze maquette was a study for the 'London to Paris' sculpture on view at the CASS Sculpture Foundation in West Sussex, UK. I liked the way he had reversed a familiar process - often artists make maquettes from wood, clay or other 'temporary' material before casting the final version in bronze. Paolozzi on the other hand had made his maquette from bronze and then made the final version from wood!

Before I experienced this exhausting and disappointing tour of Art Central, I had visited the Pedder building, a short walk away in Central. Here I saw two exhibitions that couldn't have provided a better contrast. First in Ben Brown I saw Simon Birch's latest show of paintings. It was refreshing to see an artist working diligently to perfect his craft and the intimate exhibition space allowed me to become lost in Simon's world, the figures dancing and floating around me as I toured the show.

Next door, just along the corridor is the Simon Lee Gallery. Here I saw an installation by the Arte Povera master Michelangelo Pistoletto. He had clad the small gallery with large mirrors onto which there were fixed photographic images of the same woman, repeated in different poses. The reflections criss-crossed the room creating the illusion of a labyrinth of rooms joined by rectangular doorways. I became a second figure and I was also multiplied within the labyrinth, engaging in an interactive relationship with the woman, almost a kind of dance. After a few minutes another group of visitors arrived and I was lost in the crowd, in the multitude of reflected images. The work changed totally as people came and went.
This is how art should be seen, each gallery had used the space perfectly to show the work to its best advantage. I left Central full of positive energy and began walking towards Art Central...if only I had planned my day's itinerary in reverse!

Simon Birch at Ben Brown

Michelangelo Pistoletto at Simon Lee Gallery

'London to Paris' by Eduardo Paolozzi

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Yoshitomo Nara at Hong Kong Asia Society

On the evening of 6th March I attended an even that featured a talk between the Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara and curator Fumio Nanjo at Hong Kong's Asia Society, close to the British Council / Consulate Building in Admiralty.
The talk was arranged to coincide with Nara's exhibition at the Asia Society 'Life is only one' (he also has another exhibition running at the Pace Gallery).

The press release for the talk stated that Nara and Nanjo would discuss the curatorial approach of the exhibition and about how the works in the exhibition were chosen.
However, the talk seemed to take a different direction. Nara showed photographic slides of his frequent trips overseas and he narrated these journeys in a matter-of-fact way. He often seemed to wonder why people were interested in his photos but he was encouraged to keep showing them by Nanjo. The informality and meandering nature of the talk allowed the audience to gain an introduction to Nara's personality.

For me, the most interesting aspect of the talk was when Nara showed photos taken at intervals during his personal painting process. He seemed to begin by covering the surface of the painting with large vividly-coloured circles that he then overplayed with lighter layers of paint. The circles can be seen beneath the outer layers of paint, in some of his works they can easily be seen, in others less so.