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.
Katharina Grosse: Mumbling Mud
2018 November 10 - 2019 February 24
chi K11 art museum, Shanghai
K11 Art Foundation (KAF) and chi K11 art museum are delighted to present Mumbling Mud, internationally acclaimed German artist Katharina Grosse’s first solo exhibition in China. Using the spray gun as her primary painting tool, Grosse has applied variegated swaths of paint across the walls of exhibition spaces, her own bed, an entire house and its surroundings, and arranged objects such as piles of soil and tree trunks to create large-scale site-related paintings. She has thus been able to liberate the application of paint from its immediate connection to both the painter’s body and any predetermined surfaces of the Western painting tradition. With colour, she traverses the established borders between objects and architectural settings, and ultimately offers models for imagining reality in ways previously unconceived by semiotic conventions, hierarchies and social rules.
Divided into five zones at chi K11 art museum, Mumbling Mud leads visitors through an immersive, labyrinthine passage. Upon entering the first zone, they immediately find themselves surrounded by a constructed landscape made up of building materials and piles of soil, all covered with colourful paint. Spectators are invited to meander through the five zones by following the painterly traces that Grosse left when she worked her way through the museum. The amorphous, multicoloured forms and shapes sprayed across the varying structures and draping cloths installed at the museum may also create an experience of wandering on the peripheries of the familiar, inviting rumination into the quintessential strangeness of a metropolis that is ever-changing and impossible to be delineated in simple contours.
CAPRICIOUS STRUCTURE: BRENDAN FOWLER, ANDREW LUK, SHEN XIN, WU JUEHUI
2018 August 11 - September 14
chi K11 art museum, Shanghai
The universe is an endless hoax, in which everything is perpetually mutating. In the creation of art, medium can be regarded as a tool, which allows for the unconventional transmutation of materials that lies beyond the naked eye. It is imbued with potentials to probe behind appearance and shatter pre-established frameworks.
The exhibition Capricious Structure features independent projects by four young artists from both China and abroad, including Andrew Luk (Hong Kong), Brendan Fowler (Los Angeles), Wu Juehui (Hangzhou) and Shen Xin (London/ Amsterdam). The works presented reflect on the mutual intervention between the artificial and the natural, the interstices of interior and exterior, and the fictionality of video, all contesting the capricious nature of medium.
Artists from various backgrounds use their idiosyncratic perspectives and visual lexicons to reconstruct narrative space, exploring ideas around urban conditions, industrialization, technology, economy, and race. Emerging from and yet operating outside of the mainstream culture, artists have orchestrated a series of heterogeneous temporalities. They can be seen as a manifestation of the dynamic worlds envisaged by the artists as well as a mind game with the viewer.
The exhibition is curated with the assistance of Jeannie Huang and Sun Qian.
KEIICHI TANAAMI: SOLO EXHIBITION
2018 June 16 - September 2
chi K11 art space, Guangzhou
The artistic practice of Keiichi Tanaami is like a mirrored pattern seen through a kaleidoscope - elements of different cultural contexts are reflected in his works. Forming a mosaic that is ever-changing. Tanaami’s silkscreen print series No More War (1967) references the spiral patterns typical of psychedelic art, on art movement that emerged between the 1960s and 1970s in the West. Alongside the prints are large, compositionally symmetrical drawings and multi-limb, humanoid sculptures by the artist, and together they create a spectacular panorama of mirroring effects. Those who are familiar with Tanaami’s works know that there are a lot of recurring images in his works. Some of them (such as the ring) are inspired by his personal interests (such as boxing), others from his dreams and memories, especially traumatic experiences. The goldfish that frequently appear in his two-dimensional works comes from the fish scales that he saw glittering in the flames of war. The twisting pine trees in his sculptures and paintings originate from the drug-induced hallucinations that he had during hospitalisation. For Tanaami, the visualisation of these ‘scars’ is not so much a form of self-healing as a process of reconstruction of personal memories. Ancient Greek philosopher Plato likens memory to inscription on wax tablets. Tanaami’s stylistic choice for piecing together his memory fragments is different from this kind of inscription, which stresses faithful representation, or any kind of linear narrative that serves as an archival record. He extracts his memories like an alchemist, transforming them into a visual language that reminds of us of horror vacui. In his diptych World and Hermit (2017), the colourful, swirling tails of the roosters are like whirlpools, and the space beneath them is filled with delicately contoured waves. The picture plane is also full of eccentric characters resembling widely known cartoon characters, such as Astro Boy and Betty Doll; spiders that are reminiscent of the anamorphic skull in Hans Holbein der Jüngere’s famous painting Ambassador take up same space as well. The eclectic range of elements, crammed onto the same plane, converge and collide. All linear memories seem to have become small iron balls in a pachinko machine, bouncing between different scenes.
While Tanaami has mentioned that his practice is heavily influenced by Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, his research on popular culture and mass culture began earlier than his ‘encounters’ with these pop art masters from the West. References to cultural products for the masses are discernible in his works - examples include tatebanko, a popular craft of the Edo era, kamishibai, a form of street theatre of the Showa era, and Japanese traditional trademarks. Tanaami is often referred to as a ‘pop artist’, but his works are never just about the appropriation of popular cultural symbols; rather, they manifest the interweaving of the life of an individual and the collective aesthetic consciousness of society at large.