COBALT HOUR: SCREENING FOR FRIEZE LA 2020
2020 February 14-16
Frieze Los Angeles
The Frieze Film & Talks program focuses on themes of visibility and invisibility – and LA as the perfect meeting place for cultures.
The French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy describes the dawn depicted in the Renaissance painting Visitation by Pontormo, as “laid out like an empty square” or “receding visita”. This patch of light works as an allegory of the screen, an in-between par excellence – a void that irrupts the geometric linearity of a physical space while alienating the audience with its multiple temporalities. “Cobalt Hour” is a screening program about the “in-between” – not a rigid, narrow gap between two opposites, but a deteritorized fluidity, like the blue hour that exists between day and night.
Cyberpunk classic Akira (1988) was set in the post-WWIII Neo-Tokyo in 2019 – already the “past” for us, but it shows a possible future, a speculative reality that is not here yet. The borders of the past-present-future triptych are dissolved by the dystopian distance of non-arrival. Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Cemetery of Splendour (2015) is a visual architecture of a dream-state between spectrality, irrationality and romance. Cao Fei’s Haze and Fog pays tribute to zombie films, rethinking the modern “living-death” situation in Capitalist society characterized by over-work and over-production. Cao’s Asia One (2018) takes place at China’s largest logistics centre, where work is mostly done by robots. Through a love story between humans and machines, Cao questions our emotional limits. The robotic movements in the film resonate with the virtual fleshiness in Jon Rafman’s works, Disasters under the Sun (2019) and Poor Magic (2017).
Wong Ping’s Stop Peeping (2014) and The Other Side (2015) move between physical intimacy and social issues, as well as ontological topics such as life and death, in the guise of absurd cartoon characters made of geometrical shapes. Cyril Duval’s Cold Single (2019) draws from visual research on the Taoist semi-deity Han Dan, where redemption is supposed to be achieved through extreme physical experiences, especially pain. In his black-and-white movies punctuated by historical symbols (from ancient Chinese armor to Mao suits to 1930s’ Expressionist makeup), Yang Fudong finds a way to widen the spectrum of visual textures in shades of grey. BCE (2019) by Sophia Al Maria and Victoria Sin unfurls a contemporary myth by placing the dark universe in parallel with an infinitude of identities. Adrián Villar Rojas’ The Most Beautiful Moment of War (2017) frames sculptural moments from everyday life in Yangji-Ri, a village on the Civilian Control Line along the Korean DMZ. A spam email inspires Always I Trust (2014) by Cheng Ran, a work that oscillates between language and glossolalia. Tao Hui’s The Dusk of Tehran (2014) inserts late diva Anita Mui’s conversation with her fans at her last concert into a totally different geopolitical context. An Iranian actress talks to a driver in the enclosed space of a taxi, where the dusk of a performer marks the dawn of another.
GLOW LIKE THAT
2019 March 27 - May 13
21/F K11 Atelier, Victoria Dockside, Hong Kong
Light is not only a natural phenomenon but also a product of technological advance. It is an empty signifier awaiting a narrative; it is undefined, fuzzy at the edges. Fluid and amorphous, light therefore has endless possibilities. When interacting with light, certain kinds of surfaces take on an iridescent sheen or reflect their surroundings, producing a shimmering or radiant ‘glow’. Presented by K11 Art Foundation as the first contemporary art exhibition held in Victoria Dockside, Glow Like That features 16 artists and collectives from countries including China, the US, and Japan, showcasing an impressive array of paintings, video works, sculptures, and installations. While some of the works demonstrate the various forms of ‘glow’ characteristic of the light-saturated era, others reveal their functions and symbolic significances in contemporary society.
Brimming with beautiful imagery associated with light, Glow Like That also echoes the spectacular harbour view that the exhibition space overlooks. From the vantage point of Glow Like That in Victoria Dockside, visitors will feast on the opulence of the gleam and glimmer of the city. The glistering waves of the harbour and the exhibition shine a light on each other, bolstering one another’s splendour and sparking ruminations on the relationship between light and everyday life.
ZHANG ENLI | OSCAR MURILLO
2019 March 22 - May 31
chi K11 art museum, Shanghai
On view at chi K11 art museum, the dual solo exhibition of artists Zhang Enli and Oscar Murillo brings together their most recent works, attempting to establish a dialogue between the two artists and explore the conceptual affinity between their bodies of work.
A celebrated Chinese painter today, Zhang Enli is best known for his minute portrayal of the lives of ordinary people and the intrigue of everyday objects or happenings. In recent years, Zhang has devoted himself to exploring alternative ways of experiencing painting by drawing inspiration from architectural surfaces, spaces, and environments. This new direction in his practice is reflected in this exhibition through a succinct presentation of three of his recent works. The highlight of this exhibition is Studio, a painting installation that the artist created during his residency at The Royal Academy of Arts last year as part of the artist-in-residence programme co-presented by K11 Art Foundation and the Academy. This installation is a room-sized wooden structure with Zhang’s paintings inside. Visitors are invited to enter it—and hence they can travel between the past and the present—to trace the marks that Zhang left in it as he painted; at the same time, new marks are created by the visitors as they walk in it. Zhang’s second work, Untitled (Tiles), is a series of red-and-white checkered paintings, installed on the ground to resemble the tiles commonly used for flooring in the 1920s and 1930s Shanghai. Also on display is Wall 1-4. This work sees the artist apply gouache directly to the walls of the museum to create an immersive environment with a nostalgic touch. Crucially, with their sheer volume and lack of a traditional canvas frame, the three works effectively transform spectatorship, leading the audience to explore the layers of ‘marks’ in different ‘painterly spaces’.
Similar to Zhang’s works, Murillo’s are concerned with physical environments—in his case, these environments are places like planes and hotels because he is constantly in transit. For example, his flight series, which is suspended from the ceiling in the museum, was made when he was travelling on the plane. These drawings by Murillo echo Zhang’s work with their obsessive mark-making. The Institute of Reconciliation, also on view at the exhibition, is an installation comprised of canvases that are hung like laundry on clotheslines. The canvases are brushed with thick black oil paint before being cut and then sown into new compositions. From stitches canvases to drawings on paper to oil paintings, Murillo’s works allude to the disorienting movements shaping our contemporary conditions: capital flows, flight paths, and migratory routes. Murillo is interested in opening processes of globalisation to an artistic inquiry, and thereby articulating a nuanced understanding of the specific conditions therein. In this light, his frequent references to his home country Colombia through such materials as Mateos (in collective conscience) and corn (in Human Resources and The Institute of Reconciliation) should be seen not as a call for localism, but a metaphor for the displacement and flow of objects and ideas amidst global capitalism.