For those visiting during Art Basel in Hong Kong (29–31 March 2019), the smell of fresh paint may still be in the air at the latest heritage conservation project, The Mills, which opened on 16 March to encompass the Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textiles (CHAT), joining the ranks with ex-prison complex Tai Kwun, along with Eaton HK—a retro...
Firenze Lai says that she knows her studio of a few hundred square feet intimately; from the textures of its surfaces to the way the breeze blows into the room. The spaces depicted in her paintings are equally intimate. When curators seem to be at a loss for words to discuss troubled times, fear of containment, and the feeling of being completely...
In Meiro Koizumi's three-channel video installation, The Angels of Testimony (2019), the central frame features an interview with Hajime Kondo about his time as a solider of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The conversation centres on war crimes perpetrated in China, including the beheading of Chinese prisoners for...
Tjalling de Vries is ambitious for painting - ambitious for the range and scale of mark-making he might bring to bear across a canvas, and ambitious too, that painting and sound might come together. Here, intermittent industrial noise played quietly from stretcher bars behind three of the paintings co-habits with postmodern mark-making, and they seem to rub along.
But it is the act of painting that is pre-eminent. One of the pleasures of this show is that de Vries reminds us just how broadly based an activity mark-making can be. Yet the dictates of composition, the measured needs of each painting, still determine the range of technique or the technical virtuosity on show. For de Vries, painting is this delicate dance.
Agitation Sticker has a ground of slate blue pulled by squeegee through old silkscreens; a light lozenge of transparency with masked, brushed edge of yellow angled across its middle; a controlled sinuous line meandering throughout; and a casually sprayed grid of red dots on top. Seems like plenty on a canvas spanning 2200 x 1900mm. But everything is in place in the shallow space of this picture plane. The effect is restrained, open and elegant.
The title work I see through me is similar in pitch, though even more playful. The painting's ground is angle sprayed. Like most of the works in this show, it has been made off the stretcher and then re-stretched. This sprayed ground gives the painting a folded topographical look, a high viewpoint as if we were scoping something both intimate and grand. White paint has been sponged on top right, masking tape replicated lower left (an old de Vries leitmotif), and two black lines pitch-perfect in calligraphic weight converse with one another in between. Then finally, there is the sausage-like balloon. Its form feels cut out or in to the painting, yet it casts a shadow. Guess that's why the painting is called I see through me.
Stolen Folder has a beautiful simplicity. Its major angular feature pushes from the bottom of the painting upwards off the floor (all these works lean from the floor to the wall), but that presence is met with white paint pulled and allowed to dribble back to the floor. Sounds insignificant. But upon this lovely tawny linen it looks soft and smashing. There are two creamy edges, an ochre ground and two small, brushed idiosyncratic bars that also enable this painting. Still, its confidence is never overstated.
This exhibition is seven works strong. It is also graceful, poised and mighty arresting.
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