What forms of communication, miscommunication, intimacy, and exchange will ensue? This reflexive exhibition aims to characterise, and even to diagnose, a tell-tale language in the style of today’s art in terms of what it is responding to, focusing on themes of “reflecting on” or “being concerned with” amidst a practice of mental attitudes and visual tricks. Prior to engaging with the work, the public equally casts an eye over the spaces of construct, both interior and exterior, and it is this reflex that provides the overarching context for the exhibits shown within SLIPPAGES. The exhibition further emphasises the critical importance of its apparatus of display so that viewers are not merely looking at an artwork but are also physically experiencing contemporary art.
The exhibiting artists animate responsive trains of thoughts through ingeniously constructed pieces with active mechanisms, inviting the public to step outside customary boundaries, each presenting a different way in which they mediate among art, subject matter, and real life. Here, their materials are still drawn from either a representational approach or for their formal qualities, although much of what is presented and how it is presented alerts viewers to the potent persuasion of displacing our understanding of what should happen where. The focus is concentrated on artists who deal with meanings on a rather conceptual or formal level: from workspace-like staging to self-staged personas, from staged scenarios to daily abstractions. Thus, the exhibition explores relations that are both public and private in nature and incorporates the viewer into the work as both a willing participant and oblivious performer viewed by others.
The probing of nature and things that oscillate between representation and imitation in order to gain a deeper understanding of the world runs like a thread throughout art. Gao Weigang (b. 1976) not only investigates the concept of mimesis, understood as an imitative representation of reality, and its role in contemporary artistic productions, but he also literally triggers the placing of the original source from its natural environment to enter the “real” space of gallery visitors, invoking interactions with the public to reflect the manner in which architecture and nature encourage a social sphere and to allow different perspectives of how a work can be experienced as a site of discovery. While encompassing strategies to cross the threshold between the visible and the invisible, other works express the implications of concealment as a means of reflection.
Sakarin Krue-On (b. 1965) is coming into a phase in which his work has clearly arrived at a degree of maturity that results in part from his continuing exploration of themes about anxieties of the modern world. The artist has delved deeply into a landscape replete with traditional imageries and folklores with a willingness to deconstruct them into substantial contexts that speak of far more than their content suggests. His artworks bring together allegories, connect an aesthetic bridging of themes with cultural idiosyncrasies, and, more often than not, conjure the lively symbolic phenomena of his homeland, Thailand. In this exhibition, the artist transforms the gallery space with a site-specific mural installation, providing viewers with a source to explore a spatial density of ephemeral transience. A walled realm resembling a mystical domain, the installation is constructed from a traditional stencilling technique normally hidden in the initial mapping of a mural. Decidedly, the artist explores truth and illusion while working towards an epistemological transformation.
By staging the gallery as an installation similar to his own studio, Li Jingxiong (b. 1987) enables us to embody the process and gesture of the artist. Li frames his narratives within multidimensional presentations so that viewers can walk around his works to fully appreciate them—a pretext for a variety of different interventions in/on the architectural interiors of the gallery. This flexible space allows for the creation of shared realities. Space in this context refers to either the immediate surrounding space, the space that serves the artists’ actions and experimentation, or the space that unfolds through the artwork itself. It allows for an examination of how various spatial orders are constructed along a shifting scale from intimate (body) to interpersonal (social), to material/institutional (economic, cultural), which are all based on an interdependent notion within oneself.
Techniques of observation and representation, with their geopolitical impact, have played a key role in MAP Office’s work and serve as a starting point for broader investigations into human perception and an understanding of the world. For the artists, the process and idea of mapping is essential, and it functions less as an accurate description of territory and more as an entry into the possibilities and prejudices that inhabit a certain place at a certain time. Here, MAP Office (Laurent Gutierrez b. 1966 and Valérie Portefaix b. 1969) sets up a drawing facility to construct a geographical map throughout the exhibition duration. The installation emphasises its interactivity through a daily ritual of creating robot-arm drawings that will slowly compose a large puzzle made of 242 A4 fragments. It is also a staging of the gallery, as the office set up for drawing the map is a space for inscribing a liquid landscape of unseen routes framed by the impossibility of achieving the perfect map.
Nabuqi (b. 1984) is interested in examining the playfulness in the everyday world and her surroundings through her sculptures, where she joins one thing to another through stacking, wrapping, or stringing, etc. Her Eyelashes series and Tangerines couldn’t be more different from each other with their sculptural renderings. The former epitomises an abstract form placed on a mirrored base. The latter is a life-size replica of a row of tangerines cast in bronze. The works are installed in situ adapted within the exhibition. Although her works are rarely weighed down with content external to itself and its placement, the subtle cues communicated between them suggest a reference, however indirect, to the interplay of values (material and immaterial, precious and dispensable) at work in the imagination of the viewer.
Sun Yuan & Peng Yu (b. 1972 and 1974, respectively) produce work that explores the ethics of representation, tending to position itself against the dominant idea of the autonomous and material character of art. They create conditions to experience an event or action that is at the heart of the artwork itself. More often than not, they even devise ways for viewers to witness their work when the action/situation has already taken place or is taking place. Hence, what is being experienced holds a mirror to the values and conventions that exhibition-making can sometimes adopt where the artists articulate a methodology with a critical potential to challenge our views on society and notions of communication. Here, the work points at a looped structure of the assembly and disassembly of a tactical behaviour proceeding the production and mediation of knowledge: what the artists tell us about the space they work in, the performers, signifiers, and props they utilise to hint at the conditions of their production. The viewer’s access to various kinds of information follows an open path, but within a regulated set of possibilities.
The perceptual reconstruction of painting is a continuous process, generated by diverse inputs such as our senses, memory, history, consciousness, as well as technology. It is a process consisting of momentary fragments that are impossible to record. They are temporary, augmented, designed, and loaded.
Seemingly plain and simple in its physicality, Wang Fujui’s (b. 1969) Sound Canvas encourages interaction between the viewer’s visual focus and auditory senses in order to lead him or her into the realm of his work. Standing in front of the blank canvas, one is immersed in a resonance of natural sounds that promote a state of heightened concentration and extend an invitation to take one’s time (to listen). This work awaits the listener; the audio is triggered based on the movement and proximity of the viewer approaching the artwork. A pioneer in establishing sound art as an artistic genre in Taiwan, Wang creates works where the sensations that viewers experience while taking them in come primarily from their imaginations. In this respect, the works he creates and the discourse they generate plug into and enliven a much broader dialogue of what sound work is and can be.
With a paradoxical combination of preciseness and ambiguity, the paintings of Xie Nanxing (b. 1970) do not necessarily speak of the truth in the images’ representation through which the artist explores and seeks methods of inquiry into the relationship between the viewer and the painted subject matter at hand. Rather, the viewer, who in general quickly identifies with the pictures hanging on the wall, indicates a specified direction of perception, in the case here, of portraitures; receives non-defined vectors of perception; and can take up any possible point of view. In this exhibition, each and every work leads to another through a unique navigation that the public can choose to partake in, unveiling the intimate source of the artist’s own tales that form the delineation of the portraits in question.
Featuring art that creates its own time span, viewers will be confronted with a work that embodies the time it took to create it as well as the time the image takes to reveal itself. Zhou Yangming (b. 1971) aims to create a new quality of painterly space that cannot be achieved through hurried movements and gestures, upon which the viewer feels the force of illusion, shade, and apparently limitless forms stretching out to the scale of the existing architecture, which is more extended than a painting in a closed frame. The meticulous rendition appeals to the materialisation between absence and presence on the surface of his painting. Illusions are always a matter of time and timing.
Each of the artists embeds a context of production, condition of display, time, space and discourse into artworks which then co-exist with other artworks. The realm of the exhibition begins at the threshold of the entrance, the moment before someone enters into the gallery. It is a project that is aware of its own form and is thus self-referential. In this respect, works in the exhibition are repositioned, linked in space-time relative to the “reading” done by each viewer, building alternative paths.
Press release courtesy Pearl Lam Galleries.