Since ancient times, human beings have been fascinated by the structure of cosmic space and the natural phenomena of the world. Fundamental elements such as light and darkness, wind and rain, water and fire do not have fixed structures or form; therefore, they have often been depicted by different cultures and civilisations as abstract forms. Such examples can be found in East Asian belief systems and folklore, such as Taijitu (太極圖), Wuxing (五行) and I Ching (易經) trigrams, as well as in various Indigenous cultures around the world. This exhibition features work by three prominent artists from the Asia Pacific region: Mit Jai Inn, George Tjungurrayi, and Haegue Yang, who through their research and repertoires, reference and explore such concepts in abstraction.
A pioneer of Thai contemporary art, Mit Jai Inn’s (b. 1960) idea of painting defies conventional boundaries, both physically and conceptually. His abstract paintings bring to mind reflections of light, the colour spectrum and the molecular structure of the universe.
George Tjungurrayi (c. 1943) creates abstract canvases derived from the distinctive painting style of the Papunya Tula Artists of the Australian Western Desert, which are often interpreted as reflections of the desert landscape. The characteristic patterns also refer to the invisible energy fields of the artist’s ancestral country and to traditional stories deeply rooted in sacred law.
Internationally renowned for her assemblages and spatial installations, Haegue Yang (b. 1971) often uses industrially manufactured materials that reference the history of modern art and allude to social, political, and personal histories. Yang’s work challenges conventional ideas of abstraction and movements within diverse art forms.
On announcing the exhibition Mami Kataoka says: “Abstraction of the World explores some of the diverse philosophies surrounding the essential elements of the universe, investigating a pursuit of meaning in abstraction that goes beyond modernist perspectives of abstract expressionism and minimal, conceptual art. It is a reflection of some of my early thinking about the 21st Biennale exhibition opening in March, 2018.”
Press release courtesy Duddell's.