The 58th Venice Biennale, May You Live In Interesting Times (11 May–24 November 2019), certainly benefitted from low expectations, given the lacklustre curatorial of the previous edition, when different segments of the show were conceptually framed with titles like 'Pavilion of Joys and Fears' and 'Pavilion of Colours'. Add to this the...
Hong Kong-based artist Zheng Bo's social, ecological, and community-engaged art practice has, in recent years, focused on moving beyond a human-centred perspective to an all-inclusive, multi-species approach. He takes up marginalised plants and communities of people as subjects in his large-scale interventions, which reintroduce wildness into...
The weather was clement for the annual Auckland Art Fair (2–5 May 2019), which was again at The Cloud on Queens Wharf. This year's edition was a get-together of 41 galleries, mostly from around Auckland and across New Zealand, with 5 spaces hailing from Sydney and the rest from Cook Islands (Bergman Gallery), Hobart (Michael Bugelli Gallery),...
Exploring the idea of memory recollection, Paul Moorhouse, curator of 20th-century art at London’s National Portrait Gallery, drew together six international artists for Structures of Recollection: Contemporary Approaches to Materials and Memory, currently showing at Pearl Lam Galleries in Hong Kong.
Moorhouse’s curatorial premise stems from Marcel Proust’s 1913 novel In Search of Lost Time, in which the author asserts that physical reality—the experiences and events we encounter—is perpetually transient, but not forever lost.
Controversial and uncompromising in his penchant for offbeat and confrontational gestures, Australian contemporary artist Dale Frank has divided critics and public alike over the past three decades. His practice is wide-ranging—from documentary films to eccentric performances—but today Frank is best known for his large-scale biomorphic abstract paintings and reflective resin paintings that challenge traditional notions of the medium.
Beginning to attract attention while still in his teens in the late 1970s, Frank spent ten years in Europe and the United States, returning to Australia in 1988. The beginning of his career was dominated by performance-based work; a notable early example took place in the late 1970s in Italy, where gallery-goers were presented with the then-teenage artist's legs and leather shoes dangling through a hatch in the ceiling.
Later in his career, Frank began exploring sculpture and installation and, eventually, painting. His current painting method involves pouring and brushing on several layers of thick varnish and colour pigments or clear resin, which sometimes embed colour glitter and studio detritus. These distinctive paintings do not depict anything identifiable, but rather are an exploration of different materials, movements and colours. Occasionally, he also includes readymade and industrial elements, such as construction foam, automotive paint, brightly coloured artificial hair (Dale dug another hole ) or silver foil air-ducts (She was a collector of the best Art even though she relied on Emirates points to maintain her lifestyle ). Given their unusual materials, Frank's paintings are not static objects; the materials can settle, react and produce structural changes even once they have left his studio. In recent years, the artist has replaced his usual canvas surface with Perspex, its reflective nature adding another layer to the work.
Provocative titles are often important to Frank's paintings, for example: Roslyn is the difference between Qantas gold and platinum or He always bought funeral insurance for all his boyfriends (both 2018). Sometimes the titles themselves are lengthy, self-contained narratives, with no apparent connection to the works to which they are attached. These lengthy interludes disrupt attempts to read specific meanings into the paintings themselves.
Interactive performance and installation remains an important part of Frank's career. In 1995, in lieu of showing paintings, the artist staged a disco—including fog machines and a mirror ball—at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in Sydney, and titled the exhibition Dale, I'm only dancing. For his 2018 installation Ghost Story at the same gallery, Frank covered the walls and ceilings in reflective Mylar fabric lit with LED lights and presented petri dishes containing his personal bacteria, which grew into a dangerous state in agar.
Dale Frank was the subject of a major retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney, in 2002. He was selected for the Biennale of Sydney in 1990 and 2010, and in 1984 he was included in the Aperto section of the Venice Biennale. His works are held in major private and public collections worldwide, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Kunsthaus, Zürich; and the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum in New York. In 2005, Frank was awarded the Arthur Guy Memorial Painting Prize from Bendigo Art Gallery.
Yinka Shonibare MBE was born in 1962 in London and moved to Lagos, Nigeria at the age of three. He returned to London to study Fine Art first at Central Saint Martins College and then at Goldsmiths College, where he received his MFA.
Shonibare's work explores issues of race and class through the media of painting, sculpture, photography and film. Having described himself as a 'post-colonial' hybrid, Shonibare questions the meaning of cultural and national definitions. His trademark material is the brightly coloured 'African' fabric he buys at Brixton market. The fabric was inspired by Indonesian design, mass-produced by the Dutch and eventually sold to the colonies in West Africa. In the 1960s, the material became a new sign of African identity and independence.
Shonibare was a Turner prize nominee in 2004, and he was also awarded the decoration of Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire or MBE. He has added this title to his professional name. He was notably commissioned by Okwui Enwezor at Documenta 10 in 2002 to create his most recognised work Gallantry and Criminal Conversation that launched him onto an international stage. He has exhibited at the Venice Biennale and internationally at leading museums worldwide. In September 2008, his major mid-career survey commenced at the MCA Sydney and then toured to the Brooklyn Museum, New York and the Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Shonibare has also been elected as a Sculptor in the Royal Academy of Arts, making him part of a select society of at most 80 practicing artists working in the UK. This honour, historically a way to distinguish an artist as a professional in Britain, is the art community's recognition of the significance of Shonibare's work.
Shonibare's work Nelson's Ship in a Bottle was the 2010 Fourth Plinth Commission, and was displayed in Trafalgar Square, London until January 2012. It was the first commission by a black British artist and was part of a national fundraising campaign organised by the Art Fund and the National Maritime Museum, who have now successfully acquired the sculpture permanently for display outside the museum's new entrance in Greenwich Park, London.
In 2012, the Royal Opera House commissioned Globe Head Ballerina to be displayed on the exterior of the Royal Opera House, overlooking Russell Street in Covent Garden. The life-sized ballerina encased within a giant 'snow globe' spins slowly as if caught mid-dance. The piece appears to encapsulate a moment of performance as if stolen from the stage of the Royal Opera House.
In 2014, a permanent public commission of Wind Sculpture was unveiled at Howick Place, London, England. Wind Sculpture was also shown as part of his solo exhibition at Royal Museums Greenwich in September 2013 and at Frieze Sculpture Park in October 2013. Measuring 6 metres by 3 metres, the work explores the notion of harnessing movement through the idea of capturing and freezing a volume of wind in a moment in time.
Recent solo exhibitions include Paradise Beyond (2016-17), Gemeentemuseum, Helmond, the Netherlands; Childhood Memories (2016), Pearl Lam Galleries, Singapore; Wilderness in the Garden (2015), Daegu Art Museum, Daegu, Korea; Colonial Arrangements (2015), Morris-Jamel Mansion, New York, New York, USA; Egg Fight (2014), Foundation Blachère, Apt, France; Yinka Shonibare MBE: Magic Ladders (2014), The Bares Foundation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; and Cannonball Paradise (2014), Gerisch Stiftung Sculpture Park, Neumünster, Germany. Recent notable group shows include In Search of Meaning: The Human Figure in Global Perspective (2015) Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle, the Netherlands; Staying Power: Photographs of Black British Experience 1950s-1990s (2015), Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK; The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists (2015), Frankfurt MMK, Frankfurt, Germany, which was later exhibited at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C., USA.
Shonibare's works are included in prominent collections internationally, including the Tate Collection, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome, Rome; and VandenBroek Foundation, the Netherlands.
Hong Kong—Pearl Lam Galleries is delighted to present Structures of Recollection, a group show curated by Paul Moorhouse that features works by six leading contemporary artists: Chun Kwang Young, Leonardo Drew, Dale Frank, Hew Locke, Qiu Deshu, and Yinka Shonibare MBE. The title and theme of the exhibition refers to Marcel Proust’s monumental novel In Search of Lost Time, published between 1913 and 1927, and will take place at the Galleries’ Pedder Building space from 22 March to 28 April, 2016.
Paul Moorhouse, 20th Century Curator at the National Portrait Gallery London, takes from In Search of Lost Time the Proustian theme that the physical world, its inhabitants, and all experience are fugitive: everything that exists comes into being, endures, and then disappears from the flux of reality. Structures of Recollection focuses on the notion that the material fabric of the world and the objects within it act as triggers for memory, a concern that is shared by each of the six leading contemporary artists who feature in this exhibition.
Each artist engages with the associative and expressive qualities of their chosen media. Both Dale Frank and Qiu Deshu use paint and pigment respectively. While the employment of these traditional media connects both artists directly with the past, each artist’s practice is unconventional. Part painter and part alchemist, Frank’s paintings see paint dripped onto surfaces made from a variety of different materials. That action proceeds in unpredictable ways, embracing the full physical transformative process of his chosen medium. Steeped in the tradition of Chinese painting, Qiu uses Xuan paper in his collage-based work. Employing torn and rearranged paper, he creates fissures—compelling gaps or apertures in the work’s structure—through which glimpses of colour emerge. This invests his art with spatial complexity and ambiguous significance.
Both Leonardo Drew and Chun Kwang Young assert the physical characteristics of their materials, emphasising their texture, colour, and shape, thereby creating something that is insistently sculptural. Drew’s use of manipulated and found objects taps into the history associated with a specific fabric or artefact, while Chun’s assemblages incorporate mulberry paper, a traditional Korean medium that invokes the artist’s childhood memories of seeing medicine packages wrapped in that material.
The work of Yinka Shonibare MBE and Hew Locke demonstrate a shared sensitivity to the evocative power of manufactured materials and objects. By incorporating into his works batik fabric—a material that originated in Southeast Asia before being sold by the Dutch to their African colonies—Shonibare uses these historical associations to explore the way identity and nationality are constructed from personal memory and collective experience of the past. Collage and assemblage are also characteristic of Locke’s wide-ranging practice. He incorporates found objects, such as toys and cheap jewellery, and combines them with certificates and photographs in order to examine issues of power and identity, as well as the way that memory is connected with these constructed concepts.
“I’m delighted to be welcoming Paul Moorhouse to Pearl Lam Galleries once more to curate an ambitious show featuring the works of this group of six leading international artists. Hailing from all over the world and bringing with them their cultural heritage, this exhibition will provide a discourse about the way in which these artists from the East and West demonstrate the ‘structures of recollection’ in their work.”
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