Top 10 Gallery Shows To See During Art Basel in Hong Kong
Our list of must-see shows.
Gagosian Hong Kong, Alberto Giacometti, closes May 31. Chinese artist Shen Yuan compares Alberto Giacometti’s art to “dry wood that could burst into flames at any moment” in the catalogue for this show. It’s a fitting introduction to the powerful works on display. Tracing the Swiss sculptor’s journey from studio into the streets, 131 original lithographs for the book Paris Sans Fin (Paris Without End) form the backbone of this museum-quality exhibition. Composed of a flurry of energetic lines, the raw sketches are a window into Giacometti’s obsessive practice. Interspersed among these pieces are textured bronzes as well as paintings, photographs, and archival letters.
de Sarthe Gallery, “Pioneers of Modern Chinese Painting,” May 13–June 21 From delicate nudes rendered in ink to densely painted abstract canvases, this exhibition brings together diverse works by 12 Chinese artists who flocked to Paris in the early part of the 20th century. It’s a concise selection that sheds light on a watershed moment in the career of such giants as Xu Beihong, Chu-Teh Chun and Zao Wou-Ki. Experimenting freely with Western techniques, they yield exciting results.
White Cube, Mark Bradford, May 14–August 30 For his Hong Kong debut, acclaimed American artist Mark Bradford touches on the sensitive issue of the city’s cramped public housing. Morphing architectural floor plans and images of government subsidised housing estates, he creates monumental collaged paintings layered with torn billboard posters, newsprint, and swaths of colored paper. Incised with a network of interconnected lines, the works underscore the cell-like living conditions of a large portion of the local population.
Edouard Malingue Gallery, Sun Xun, May 13–July 6 Known for his haunting hand-drawn animations, Sun Xun is one of China’s most talked-about young artists. Taking Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World as a point of departure, he creates an immersive installation examining the onslaught of technology and how it has rendered people passive. Highlights of the show include a vivid new video work titled What happened in the year of the dragon (2014) and a morbid landscape painting littered with human skulls.
Pace Hong Kong, Zhang Xiaogang, May 14–July 12 Zhang Xiaogang inaugurates Pace’s first Hong Kong gallery with a series of new oil on paper works. Continuing Zhang’s exploration of memory, tradition and cultural history, these solemn paintings hover between past and present. A surreal streak runs through The Prisoner of Book series where we see a corpse-like figure whose face and hands are trapped inside a large open book and a bodiless yellow head that’s propped on a sofa beneath a plum blossom branch.
Hanart TZ Gallery, Gu Wenda, May 12–June 7 The ever subversive Chinese artist Gu Wenda takes center stage at Hanart TZ Gallery and its fair booth during Art Basel in Hong Kong. On display in the Pedder Street space will be iconic works, including 27 paintings from the Mythos of Lost Dynasties series J (2011) in which Gu experiments with Chinese characters floating in fluid ink-washed landscapes. Also on view is the installation Ink Alchemy (1999–2000), consisting of bottles of human hair and pigment alongside a sprawling new landscape painting on green tea rice paper.
Pearl Lam Galleries, Su Xiaobai, May 14–July 15 Evoking thick slabs of wax or stone, Chinese artist Su Xiaobai’s sensuously lacquered works teeter on the edge of sculpture and painting. Reaching as high as above six feet, these monolithic pieces range in color from expanses of shell-like white to velvety dark blue. Seen together, the selection of 19 paintings, curated by Paul Moorhouse, reveals a sense of the infinite.
Simon Lee Gallery, Toby Ziegler, May 14–July 1 British artist Toby Ziegler unveils five dream-like, desaturated paintings and a pair of bulbous metal sculptures at Simon Lee. Composed of oil-on-aluminium, the new works are based on low-resolution jpeg files of two Thomas Gainsborough paintings. Ziegler digitally manipulates these source images then translates them into paint. Before the works are dry, he drags a cloth across the surface, then further sabotages them with an orbital sander. What remains are deliberately fugitive, ghosts of the original Gainsborough works.
10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Huang Rui, closes June 14. This exhibition focuses on maverick painter Huang Rui, a founding member of the rebellious artist group the Stars (Xingxing), formed in China in 1979. On display will be historic abstract oils, several of which have never been seen before. Huang created these paintings after the summer of 1983, in the wake of the Anti-Spiritual Pollution Campaign, a time when the group’s activities diminished and their artworks were banned. The bleak, subdued palette reflects Huang retreat indoors. Filled with simple geometric shapes echoing Beijing’s old courtyards and windows frames, the works are intimate meditations on space.
Today and Tomorrow, Indonesian Contemporary Art, Yallay Gallery, May 15–June 7. Rifky Effendy, curator of last year’s Indonesian pavilion at the Venice Biennale, and dealer-collector Jean Marc Decrop have pulled together this insightful selection of Indonesian art. Yallay Gallery’s vast warehouse space will play host to paintings, mixed-media pieces, and installations by 18 established and emerging artists. Standout works include Entang Wiharso’s graphite installation Temple of Hope Hit by a Bus (2011) and Agus Suwage’s new watercolor and tobacco juice painting Borneo (2014).
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