“Howie Tsui: Retainers of Anarchy”: exploring notions of nationhood in Hong Kong at Vancouver Art Gallery

Vancouver-based artist Howie Tsui creates a 25-metre hand-drawn animation based in the Walled City of Kowloon.

Drawing on diverse influences such as martial arts and contemporary Hong Kong politics, Howie Tsui explores the liminal space between self-governance and lawlessness.

Installation view of "Howie Tsui: Retainers of Anarchy", exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery, March 4 to May 28, 2017. Image courtesy Vancouver Art Gallery. Photo: Rachel Topham, Vancouver Art Gallery.

Installation view of “Howie Tsui: Retainers of Anarchy”,
exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery, March 4 to May 28, 2017. Image courtesy Vancouver Art Gallery. Photo: Rachel Topham, Vancouver Art Gallery.

Featuring a mix of martial arts and Hong Kong politics, Howie Tsui’s solo exhibition “Retainers of Anarchy” is on at Vancouver Art Gallery from 4 March to 28 May 2017. The exhibition contains a 25-metre hand-drawn animation, creating a non-linear narrative that questions concepts of nationhood in the context of Hong Kong’s political past and present.

Tsui was born in Hong Kong and raised in Lagos, Nigeria and Thunder Bay, Canada. His work often explores this multicultural context, and for more than ten years he has been exploring Asian history and pop culture. His previous work has often, as Diana Freundl’s essay states, tackled ideas of “hybridity and interconnections between cultures throughout history”.

Howie Tsui, 'Retainers of Anarchy', 2017, key frame drawing for algorithmic animation sequence. Image courtesy of the Artist. Photo: Maegan Hill-Carroll, Vancouver Art Gallery.

Howie Tsui, ‘Retainers of Anarchy’, 2017, key frame drawing for algorithmic animation sequence. Image courtesy the artist. Photo: Maegan Hill-Carroll, Vancouver Art Gallery.

The work Horror Fables (2008–2010) draws from a mix of influences, including traditional Buddhist hell scrolls, Japanese ukiyo-e prints, anime, manga and Hong Kong vampire films. Another piece, Friendly Fire (2012), looks into the human cost of war through the specific border conflict between British North America and the United States in the War of 1812. The piece uses a number of aesthetic influences and draws on history in a way that also serves to question current political contexts. This strategy is also used in Retainers of Anarchy (2017), in which Tsui explores historical events close to his own cultural heritage.

Howie Tsui, 'Retainers of Anarchy', 2017, key frame drawing for algorithmic animation sequence. Image courtesy of the Artist.

Howie Tsui, ‘Retainers of Anarchy’, 2017, key frame drawing for algorithmic animation sequence. Image courtesy the artist.

Retainers of Anarchy uses the narrative tool of wuxia, a genre of Chinese fantasy fiction and film, that involves martial arts battles based in ancient China. The form enables Tsui to shape his work around stories of heroes who maintain chivalric ideals in volatile environments. The warrior-heroes are often from lower social classes, so it is also a form that evokes dissidence and resistance.

Howie Tsui, 'Retainers of Anarchy', 2017, key frame drawing for algorithmic animation sequence. Image courtesy of the Artist.

Howie Tsui, ‘Retainers of Anarchy’, 2017, key frame drawing for algorithmic animation sequence. Image courtesy the artist.

The tradition of wuxia developed from literature into film and television in the 20th century. The anti-government sentiment caused the Chinese government to censor the films, although the genre continued to develop in Hong Kong.

Howie Tsui, 'Retainers of Anarchy', 2017, key frame drawing for algorithmic animation sequence. Image courtesy of the Artist.

Howie Tsui, ‘Retainers of Anarchy’, 2017, key frame drawing for algorithmic animation sequence. Image courtesy the artist.

An essay from the exhibition describes Tsui’s interest in wuxia. In a 2015 interview, when he started the Retainers of Anarchy project, Tsui explained:

Through re-examining something so elemental in my early life, I’ve discovered how highly politicised this genre of literature and film is. How it used to be banned in China and at one point, all the practitioners were exiled to Hong Kong and Taiwan. As a result, the creators of many wuxia works (such as Jin Yong) seemed to retaliate to their extradition by injecting a subtext of dissent and rogue justice in their works, featuring narratives that encourage the destabilisation of ruling bodies.

Howie Tsui, 'Retainers of Anarchy', 2017, key frame drawing for algorithmic animation sequence. Image courtesy of the Artist. Photo: Maegan Hill-Carroll, Vancouver Art Gallery.

Howie Tsui, ‘Retainers of Anarchy’, 2017, key frame drawing for algorithmic animation sequence. Image courtesy the artist. Photo: Maegan Hill-Carroll, Vancouver Art Gallery.

Retainers of Anarchy is a 25-metre scroll-like video installation. The story is set in the city of Kowloon, which was a Chinese military fort during the Song dynasty (960–1279 CE). More recently Kowloon was an ungoverned settlement in the Kowloon area of Hong Kong, which was eventually destroyed in 1994 to make way for new development. The place has a complex history, being reluctantly ceded by China, a haven for refugees during World War 2 and then becoming an enclave of brothels 
and opium and gambling dens. In 1987 it had 35,000 residents and many interconnecting buildings, making it exceedingly densely populated. By placing the work in the narrative of the walled city, Tsui is reflecting on how self-governance can exist side by side with lawlessness.

Howie Tsui, 'Retainers of Anarchy', 2017, key frame drawing for algorithmic animation sequence. Image courtesy of the Artist. Photo: Maegan Hill-Carroll, Vancouver Art Gallery.

Howie Tsui, ‘Retainers of Anarchy’, 2017, key frame drawing for algorithmic animation sequence. Image courtesy the artist. Photo: Maegan Hill-Carroll, Vancouver Art Gallery.

In this piece, Tsui combines a number of aesthetics while also crossing between past and present. Referencing both western and eastern influences, the installation combines manga, the romanticised action-story genre of mou hap, scenes from famous Song and Yuan dynasty paintings and landscapes from Italian Giuseppe Castiglione who worked in the Chinese imperial court in the 18th century.

Howie Tsui, 'Retainers of Anarchy', 2017, key frame drawing for algorithmic animation sequence. Image courtesy of the Artist. Photo: Maegan Hill-Carroll, Vancouver Art Gallery.

Howie Tsui, ‘Retainers of Anarchy’, 2017, key frame drawing for algorithmic animation sequence. Image courtesy the artist. Photo: Maegan Hill-Carroll, Vancouver Art Gallery.

As Alice Ming Wai Jim explains in the essay “When Worlds Meet”, the narrative in the work is not linear:

In this virtual built environment, there is no beginning or end. The work does not start or finish in the linear sense of storytelling. The computer program randomly zooms in and out of the various animated scenes, groups, and objects embedded in generic hand-drawn landscape of mountains, trees, and waterways. An isometric pan, for example, might follow an archery fight between a rider on horseback and another on a giant condor. Then, suddenly, out of this rustic scene might appear a cross-section of a crowded tenement block of apartment buildings, which many will recognise as Hong Kong’s Kowloon Walled City, a dystopic world that disappeared in 1994.

The quantity of influences and detailed drawing that combine to make this work, lead to a patchwork that builds a nuanced insight into a place that inhabits a liminal zone.

Claire Wilson

1661

Related topics: Hong Kong artists, installation, gallery shows, events in Canada

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Swiss artist Urs Fischer’s first solo show in Asia at Gagosian Gallery, Hong Kong

New York-based Swiss-born artist Urs Fischer continues to surprise with his unpredictable and provocative works of art.

The solo exhibition features his perception-altering new works, blurring boundaries between genres.

Urs Fischer, 'Foamcore', 2017, aluminium panel, aramid honeycomb, two-component polyurethane adhesive, two-component epoxy primer, galvanised steel rivet nuts, acrylic primer, gesso, acrylic ink, acrylic silkscreen medium, acrylic paint, oil medium, 96 x 120 in, 243.8 x 304.8 cm. © Urs Fischer. Photo: Mats Nordman. Image courtesy the artist and Gagosian Gallery.

Urs Fischer, ‘Foamcore’, 2017, aluminium panel, aramid honeycomb, two-component polyurethane adhesive, two-component epoxy primer, galvanised steel rivet nuts, acrylic primer, gesso, acrylic ink, acrylic silkscreen medium, acrylic paint, oil medium, 96 x 120 in, 243.8 x 304.8 cm. © Urs Fischer. Photo: Mats Nordman. Image courtesy the artist and Gagosian Gallery.

New York-based Swiss-born artist Urs Fischer is known for his daring and paradoxical works which challenge perception. Earlier on, he has built houses out of bread, changed one of his works from a bed to a horse, and dug an eight-foot deep crater in a gallery space. In the current exhibition, 11 large-scale tableaux made up of found images, expressive gestures and photographs of the artist’s personal spaces are showcased. Located in the historic Pedder Building in Hong Kong, Gagosian Gallery presents Urs Fischer’s first solo show in Asia. The exhibition, which also coincided with Art Basel Hong Kong, is on view from 20 March to 13 May 2017.

"Urs Fischer", installation view at Gagosian Hong Kong, 20 March - 13 May 2017. © Urs Fischer. Photo: Stefan Altenburger. Image courtesy the artist and Gagosian.

“Urs Fischer”, installation view at Gagosian Hong Kong, 20 March – 13 May 2017. © Urs Fischer. Photo: Stefan Altenburger. Image courtesy the artist and Gagosian.

Fischer, born in Zürich, Switzerland in 1973, studied at the Delfina Studio Trust in London. He visited de Ateliers in Amsterdam and Schule für Gestaltung in Zürich, where he studied photography. Currently, he lives and works in New York. He is known for his cast sculptures, assemblages, paintings, digital montages, spatial installations, kinetic objects and texts which bring everyday life to the fore. Some of his large-scale works are placed outside of the iconic Seagram building. He has also created a number of participatory exhibitions in which viewers took part in creating the experience.

"Urs Fischer" installation view at Gagosian Hong Kong, 20 March - 13 May 2017. © Urs Fischer. Photo: Stefan Altenburger. Image courtesy the artist and Gagosian.

“Urs Fischer” installation view at Gagosian Hong Kong, 20 March – 13 May 2017. © Urs Fischer. Photo: Stefan Altenburger. Image courtesy the artist and Gagosian.

His works have been exhibited widely and internationally, including at Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Santa Monica Museum of Art, California; Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland; Espace 315, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin; Camden Arts Centre, London; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; New Museum, New York; Kunsthalle Wien; “Madame Fisscher,” Palazzo Grassi, Venice; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Modern Institute, Glasgow; Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow; and Fondation Vincent Van Gogh, Arles. Fischer’s work was included in the 2003, 2007, and 2011 editions of the Venice Biennale.

To coincide with the centenary of Rodin’s death in 1917, his work is installed alongside sculptures by Auguste Rodin at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco in April 2017 as a part of the “Rodin Dialogues”.

"Urs Fischer" installation view at Gagosian Hong Kong, 20 March - 13 May 2017. © Urs Fischer. Photo: Stefan Altenburger. Image courtesy the artist and Gagosian.

“Urs Fischer” installation view at Gagosian Hong Kong, 20 March – 13 May 2017. © Urs Fischer. Photo: Stefan Altenburger. Image courtesy the artist and Gagosian.

Paradoxes and problems

The title of this solo exhibition consists of a four-line musical staff, instead of five. A treble clef and several musical notes are positioned on those lines. Music is implied, but no apparent tune can be played. Hence, it is inexpressible. This is a common characteristic throughout Fischer’s oeuvre. The paradoxical nature of the title sums up the entire show. When questioned about his views towards reality, Fischer remarks:

As an artist you compete with reality, and the order of reality is always more interesting than the order you can make. But, because you make the order, it becomes information.

"Urs Fischer" installation view at Gagosian Hong Kong, 20 March - 13 May 2017. © Urs Fischer. Photo: Stefan Altenburger. Image courtesy the artist and Gagosian.

“Urs Fischer” installation view at Gagosian Hong Kong, 20 March – 13 May 2017. © Urs Fischer. Photo: Stefan Altenburger. Image courtesy the artist and Gagosian.

Problem paintings and the alteration of perception

In the solo show at Gagosian Gallery, Urs Fischer continues his perception-altering pursuit with 11 large-scale tableaux made up of found images, expressive gestures and photographs of his personal spaces.

These works are a continuation of his “Problem Paintings” from 2011, in which he obstructed vintage publicity headshots with silkscreened images of ordinary objects such as a bolt or a banana. However, when viewed closely, the pictures are neither paintings nor photographs. The brushstrokes, in fact, are not real brushstrokes. They are silkscreened over “homescapes” and “studioscapes”, which are domestic and atelier views, providing glimpses of works in progress, art materials, furniture and artworks from Fischer’s own collection.

The artist continues to explore the paradox between abstraction and representation by digitally manipulating photographs of brushstrokes, forging gestural streaks by inserting and blurring images such as television screens and faces.

"Urs Fischer" installation view at Gagosian Hong Kong, 20 March - 13 May 2017. © Urs Fischer. Photo: Stefan Altenburger. Image courtesy the artist and Gagosian.

“Urs Fischer” installation view at Gagosian Hong Kong, 20 March – 13 May 2017. © Urs Fischer. Photo: Stefan Altenburger. Image courtesy the artist and Gagosian.

"Urs Fischer", installation view at Gagosian Hong Kong, 20 March - 13 May 2017. © Urs Fischer. Photo: Stefan Altenburger. Image courtesy the artist and Gagosian.

“Urs Fischer”, installation view at Gagosian Hong Kong, 20 March – 13 May 2017. © Urs Fischer. Photo: Stefan Altenburger. Image courtesy the artist and Gagosian.

Materiality, form and the act of looking

The act of looking is a curious one. In Foamcore (2017), various works by Fischer as well as his silkscreen test prints are juxtaposed against each other near a studio wall. Purple brushstroke-like shapes covered with grainy television static look as if they are smeared across the surface of the work. Or are they? One can also perceive that they are smeared on top of the works in the room depicted in the work. The distinction between foreground and background is disrupted.

In this work, Fischer references the long art historical tradition of paintings within paintings. This technique can also be seen in the nautical scenes and maps on the walls of Vermeer’s interiors, as well as Velázquez’s grand enigma Las Meninas and Matisse’s pictographic Red Studio.

In terms of materiality, Fischer also introduces the enigma of whether the work is photography or painting. Throughout his oeuvre, Fischer expresses traditional art historical genres in surprising forms and materials.

Valencia Tong

1656

Related Topics: Swiss artists, painting, gallery shows, events in Hong Kong

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Photo Gallery: 3 photographers at The Empty Quarter, Dubai

Dubai’s fine art photography gallery features 3 contemporary photographers until 30 April 2017.

Before the show closes, Art Radar has a look at some of the artworks on show by the German, Emirati and Omani photographers in “Sequence” at The Empty Quarter, Dubai.

Tor Seidel, 'Interchange No. 1', 2012, edition 4 + 1AP. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Tor Seidel, ‘Interchange No. 1’, 2012, edition 4 + 1AP. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

The Empty Quarter is the only gallery dedicated to fine art photography based in the UAE and Middle Eastern Region. It was co-founded by Saudi Arabian Princess HRH Reem Al-Faisal and Emirati Safa Al-Hamed, and deals with young emerging and international renowned established photographers such as award-winning Steve McCurry, Bruno Barbey, Marc Riboud and Al-Moutasim Al Maskery, among others.

The current exhibition entitled “Sequence” features the work of three photographers: Emirati artist Jalal Jamal, Germany’s Tor Seidel and Omani photographer Al-Moutasim Al-Maskery. The three artists explore the urbanscapes of the contemporary metropolis of Dubai and the rural landscape from which modern cities eventually emerge, presenting visions of the past, present and future of our urban and living environments.

Tor Seidel, 'Jumeirah Lake Towers', 2014, edition 1/4 + 1AP. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Tor Seidel, ‘Jumeirah Lake Towers’, 2014, edition 1/4 + 1AP. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

German photographer Tor Seidel explores the relationship between identity, space and meaning. In his latest series “The Dubai” he tests sight lines, colour temperatures, the incidence of the sun’s radiation, and pursues curious situations or constructs them himself. His portrayals of Dubai are of an unstructured and chaotic city. Since November 2016, he is Lecturer for Fine Art Photography at the University of Sharjah (UAE).

Al-Moutasim Al-Maskery, 'We belong together', 2016, edition 1/5. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Al-Moutasim Al-Maskery, ‘We belong together’, 2016, edition 1/5. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Jamal bin Taney, 'Field 01', 2016, limited edition 1/3. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Jamal bin Taney, ‘Field 01’, 2016, limited edition 1/3. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Emirati photographer Jamal bin Taney continues to document areas of mystery and abandonment, telling a story of self-realisation, struggle and neglect. His series captures, as the gallery writes in the press release,

the inner workings of the petroleum industry and the fate of desolate gas stations in and around the country that reflect a past that is slowly being replaced by a new façade. Our relationship with petroleum has helped society advance into the modern era but with these advancements has come challenges such as war, the strain on our planets echo system and the lasting effect it will have on generations to come who may never see the benefits of this finite resource. The project takes on a neutral view on the subject and invites the viewer to contemplate a future when the time comes for the last barrel of oil to leave the country.

Omani photographer Al-Moutasim Al-Maskery has captured the Mountains of Dhofar as a mysterious ancient place, with dramatic changes within the landscape of this region in the South of Oman. The season from July to September during which the photographs were taken is locally known as “khareef”.

Al-Moutasim Al-Maskery, 'Tree of Life', 2016, edition 2/5. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Al-Moutasim Al-Maskery, ‘Tree of Life’, 2016, edition 2/5. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Tor Seidel, 'Business Bay', 2013, edition of 5 + 1AP. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Tor Seidel, ‘Business Bay’, 2013, edition of 5 + 1AP. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Al-Moutasim Al-Maskery. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Al-Moutasim Al-Maskery. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Jamal bin Taney, 'Field 05', 2016, limited edition 1/3. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Jamal bin Taney, ‘Field 05’, 2016, limited edition 1/3. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Tor Seidel, 'Al Satwa'. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Tor Seidel, ‘Al Satwa’. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Al-Moutasim Al-Maskery, 'Motherhood', 2016, edition 1/5. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Al-Moutasim Al-Maskery, ‘Motherhood’, 2016, edition 1/5. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Jamal bin Taney, 'Petrol 01', 2016, limited edition 1/3. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Jamal bin Taney, ‘Petrol 01’, 2016, limited edition 1/3. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Tor Seidel, 'The Camera (Reem Island)', 2015, edition 4 +1AP. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Tor Seidel, ‘The Camera (Reem Island)’, 2015, edition 4 +1AP. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Al-Moutasim Al-Maskery, 'Tree Brothers', 2016, edition 1/5. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Al-Moutasim Al-Maskery, ‘Tree Brothers’, 2016, edition 1/5. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Tor Seidel, 'Smoke', 2015, edition 5 +1AP. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

Tor Seidel, ‘Smoke’, 2015, edition 5 +1AP. Image courtesy the artist and The Empty Quarter.

 

“Sequence” runs from 14 March to 30 April 2017 at The Empty Quarter, Dubai.

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6 Asian and Middle Eastern artists at the Whitney Biennial 2017

The 2017 Whitney Biennial presents 63 American and international artists.

In a time of turmoil, the Whitney Biennial considers how racial tensions, economic inequalities and polarising politics affect our sense of community.

Installation view of Whitney Biennial 2017 (Floor 5), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, March 17-June 11, 2017. Photograph by Matthew Carasella. Image courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art.

Installation view of Whitney Biennial 2017 (Floor 5), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, March 17-June 11, 2017. Photograph by Matthew Carasella. Image courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art.

The 2017 Whitney Biennial is taking place at the Whitney Museum of American Art, from 17 March to 11 June. In its 78th edition, the Whitney Biennial is the longest-running survey of American art. This year the Biennial includes work from 63 artists working in diverse media such as painting, sculpture, drawing, installation, film and video, photography, activism, performance, music and video game design.

Here Art Radar takes a look at some of the Asian and Middle Eastern artists participating in the 2017 Whitney Biennial.

Asad Raza, installation view 'Root sequence. Mother tongue', 2017, 26 Trees, UV lighting, Customized scents, carpet, cabinet with possessions of caretakers. Collection of the assembled.

Asad Raza, installation view ‘Root sequence. Mother tongue’, 2017, 26 trees, UV lighting, customized scents, carpet, cabinet with possessions of caretakers. Collection of the assembled.

1. Basma Alsharif

Born in Kuwait in 1983 of Palestinian heritage, Basma Alsharif was raised between France and the United States. She is a visual artist and filmmaker who uses images, sound and language to explore political history and collective memory, and how the anonymous individual interacts with these.

Basma Alsharif, still from 'Ouroboros', 2017, high-definition video, color, sound (work in progress). Image courtesy the artist and Galerie Imane Farès, Paris.

Basma Alsharif, still from ‘Ouroboros’, 2017, high-definition video, colour, sound (work in progress). Image courtesy the artist and Galerie Imane Farès, Paris.

For the Biennial, Basma Alsharif presents the feature-length film Ouroboros, an epic narrative in which the protagonist Diego Marcon travels through a number of landscapes that seem to merge into one another. Marcon travels from Gaza Strip and Indigenous territories in North America to Southern Italy and the French region of Brittany. Referencing the symbol of the ouroboros, a serpent that consumes its own tail, the film is also a story where the end of civilisation is also its beginning. The narrative seems to exist in a time of its own, playing out a loop that is destined to repeat where amnesia is the only way to survive.

Basma Alsharif, still from 'Ouroboros', 2017, high-definition video, color, sound (work in progress). Image courtesy the artist and Galerie Imane Farès, Paris.

Basma Alsharif, still from ‘Ouroboros’, 2017, high-definition video, colour, sound (work in progress). Image courtesy the artist and Galerie Imane Farès, Paris.

2. GCC

GCC is an art collective whose name is based on the pan-regional political model, the Gulf Cooperation Council, which is made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It was founded in 2013 and is made up of Nanu Al-Hamad, Abdullah Al-Mutairi, Aziz Alqatami, Barrak Alzaid, Khalid al Gharaballi, Amal Khalaf, Fatima Al Qadiri and Monira Al Qadiri.

For the 2017 Biennial GCC present a sculptural installation based around a news item. In October 2016, police were called to a beach in the United Arab Emirates when a melon – covered in inscriptions and punctured by nails – washed ashore. It was considered an object of black magic, which is illegal in the country. As GCC state, “while the governments of the Gulf countries have selectively chosen to revitalise certain aspects of the region’s cultural heritage, sorcery is relegated to the fringe.” In the work, the magic melon is placed in the centre of a traffic roundabout. The work explores the seeming contradiction between this event and the modern way of life, questioning which traditions are kept and which are denied.

Installation view of 'KAYA, SERENE' 2017, Whitney Biennial 2017, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, March 17-June 11, 2017. Photograph by Matthew Carasella. Image courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art.

Installation view of ‘KAYA, SERENE’ 2017, Whitney Biennial 2017, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, March 17-June 11, 2017. Photograph by Matthew Carasella. Image courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art.

3. Tala Madani

Iranian-American artist Tala Madani (b. 1981) examines cultural and sexual identity through her paintings. Often using humour and irony, Madani challenges traditional patriarchal divisions through her portraits of men playing out fictive, deviant rituals that perform at the edge between playfulness and violence.

Tala Madani, 'Shitty Disco', 2016, oil on linen, 55 × 44 in. (140 × 112 cm). Image courtesy the artist and Pilar Corrias Gallery, London.

Tala Madani, ‘Shitty Disco’, 2016, oil on linen, 55 × 44 in (140 × 112 cm). Image courtesy the artist and Pilar Corrias Gallery, London.

The suite of works in the Biennial continues to challenge these perceptions through brightly coloured paintings in which light comes out of bodies’ orifices. This light from the interior references ancient debates regarding the light of the soul compared with the materiality of the body. The works are a continual negotiation between a spiritual awakening and bodily functions, alluding to a cycle of life and death.

Tuan Andrew Nguyen, production photograph for 'The Island', 2017, ultra-high-definition video, color, sound; 42:05 min. Collection of the artist; image courtesy the artist.

Tuan Andrew Nguyen, production photograph for ‘The Island’, 2017, ultra-high-definition video, colour, sound, 42:05 min. Collection of the artist; image courtesy the artist.

4. Tuan Andrew Nguyen

Vietnamese-born artist Tuan Andrew Nguyen (b. 1976) uses explorations of the body as a site of resistance in public space, looking at ways mass media impacts these moments of defiance. Nguyen’s work often questions the individual’s relationship to history, trauma, nationhood and displacement. His art collective, The Propeller Group (founded in 2006), is a mix between a fake advertising company and archeologists of invisible historical mysteries.

At the Whitney Biennial Nguyen presents the short film The Island, shot on the Malaysian island Pulau Bidong. This island was the largest and longest-operating refugee camp after the Vietnam War and housed 250,000 people between 1978 and 1991, including Nguyen and his family. Now the island is overgrown, although residue of its past can be found in crumbling buildings and relics. The film is set in a dystopian future where the last two men on earth inhabit this island.

Anicka Yi, still from 'The Flavor Genome', 2016, 3D high-definition video, color, sound; 22 min. Collection of the artist; image courtesy the artist and 47 Canal, New York.

Anicka Yi, still from ‘The Flavor Genome’, 2016, 3D high-definition video, colour, sound, 22 min. Collection of the artist; image courtesy the artist and 47 Canal, New York.

5. Anicka Yi

Anicka Yi (b. 1971) is a South Korean conceptual artist who manipulates and creates fragrances. Through her creative process, such as boiling shredded sandals, for example, she evokes tactility and perishability in the context of the visual arts industry which preferences the visible.

Yi’s 3D film presented at the Biennial, The Flavor Genome, explores the way sensory experiences can change perceptions. Narrating a hunt for a mythical medicinal plant in the Brazilian Amazon that is never quite fully explained, the film projects colonial or corporate desires onto nature. The protagonist, a flavour chemist, symbolises a breakdown between the natural and the man-made hybrid organisms. The film brings to the surface concerns such as genetic engineering and biotechnology, as well as imperialist exploitation that filters into every aspect of contemporary life.

Anicka Yi, still from 'The Flavor Genome', 2016, 3D high-definition video, color, sound; 22 min. Collection of the artist; image courtesy the artist and 47 Canal, New York.

Anicka Yi, still from ‘The Flavor Genome’, 2016, 3D high-definition video, colour, sound, 22 min. Collection of the artist; image courtesy the artist and 47 Canal, New York.

6. An-My Lê

An-My Lê (b. 1960) is a Vietnamese-born photographer and filmmaker whose work often investigates the impact, consequences and representation of war. She looks at the impact of war on the landscapes, showing how nature is violated by the conflict.

Installation 'Occupy Museums, Debtfair', 2017 (2017 Whitney Biennial, March 17—June 11, 2017). Thirty artworks and interactive website. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Courtesy of the artists.

Installation ‘Occupy Museums, Debtfair’, 2017 (2017 Whitney Biennial, March 17—June 11, 2017). Thirty artworks and interactive website. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Image courtesy of the artists.

In her new project, “The Silent General”, An-My Lê looks for past echoes of conflict in modern-day Louisiana. In one case a Confederate Army general is placed in an urban landscape and another shows a film about a Confederate Army deserter. The past and the present exist in the same image, highlighting the inter-relation between the two, and the fact that we can never be entirely free of our past. The series suggests that the conflicts born in the past, related to race, class, labour and wealth, still exist in the present.

Claire Wilson

1646

Related topics: installation, video, film, museum shows, events in New York, biennials

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Art Basel HK Conversations 2017: Hong Kong artist Kingsley Ng – video summary

Hong Kong artist Kingsley Ng shared insights into his work at Art Basel Hong Kong’s “Conversations”.

Art Radar takes a look at the key points made by Kingsley Ng in conversation with critic Valerie C. Doran at Art Basel Hong Kong 2017.

Kingsley Ng, 'Twenty Five Minutes Older', 2017, tram installation. Image courtesy the artist and Art Basel Hong Kong.

Kingsley Ng, ‘Twenty Five Minutes Older’, 2017, tram installation. Image courtesy the artist and Art Basel Hong Kong.

“Conversations” is a public programme of 25 talks curated by Stephanie Bailey for Art Basel Hong Kong 2017. Key critics, writers, curators and artists were joined in conversation on topics such as “Cities on the Move”, “What makes an institution public?”, “When Patronage Becomes Form”, among others. Translator and critic Valerie C. Doran interviewed Hong Kong artist Kingsley Ng on Wednesday, 22 March 2017. Art Radar summarises their hour-long conversation, which traversed such topics as:

  • the artist’s recent commission for Art Basel entitled Twenty-Five Minutes Older
  • how the work critiques current polarisation across the public realm in subtle ways
  • the influence of Confucianism on the media artist’s practice
  • the ten channel video installation work Gallery Express and its quiet social critique
  • the participatory art project To the Moon (2014) and another site-specific installation entitled Moongate
  • Kingsley Ng’s decision to be an artist

Click here to watch the Art Basel Hong Kong 2017 Conversation with Kingsley Ng on YouTube

The camera obscura

Valerie C. Doran opened her interview with Kingsley Ng by referencing his most recent work Twenty-Five Minutes Older (2017), which was commissioned by Art Basel Hong Kong for the 2017 edition of the fair. For this work, Kingsley Ng transformed two of the territory’s iconic trams into moving camera obscuras: as the trams move through the city the cityscape outside the tram is captured through a small pin-hole and projected inside the tram, whose walls have been painted white. The tram was also fitted with a series of headphones used by tram-goers to listen to spoken extracts of Liu Yichang’s popular novella Tête-bêche. Kingsley decided to focus on two of the novel’s characters – a young woman seeking fame in Hong Kong and an elderly man. On one side of the tram, a girl’s voice can be heard through the headphones, saying: “The sky rumbles, looking up, three red lights blink in the sky. An airplane is flying to Hong Kong from afar”. On the other side of the tram the elderly man’s voice narrates his inner life.

Kingsley Ng, 'Twenty Five Minutes Older', 2017, tram installation. Image courtesy the artist and Art Basel Hong Kong.

Kingsley Ng, ‘Twenty Five Minutes Older’, 2017, tram installation. Image courtesy the artist and Art Basel Hong Kong.

Kingsely Ng explained that his decision to split the audio on two sides of the tram was motivated by a desire to explore the effects of current polarisation in the political and public realm, spurred on, according to his analysis, by social media, asking:

what happens when we can only hear one side, and not the other. I wanted to focus on this decision to listen to one and not the other

Twenty-Five Minutes Older ran from 20 to 28 March 2017 between Causeway Bay and Western Market, Sheung Wan, and was advertised to the public with the phrase: “Go onboard the moving time capsule that does not get old in the fast moving city.” Ng also talked about the relevance of the camera oscura as a technology, still used in the latest cameras installed in mobile phones, but also as “a metaphor for a way of seeing”.

Doran suggested that this work exemplifies much of the artist’s practice: the controlled use of light, the use of specific and often complex programming or technology, and the will to see things differently through the creation of “in between spaces” that trigger a shift in our perception of something.

Kingsley Ng, 'Twenty Five Minutes Older', 2017, tram installation. Image courtesy the artist and Art Basel Hong Kong.

Kingsley Ng, ‘Twenty Five Minutes Older’, 2017, tram installation. Image courtesy the artist and Art Basel Hong Kong.

Kingsley Ng, 'Gallery Express', 2013, 10 channel film installation. Installation view at Asia Society, Hong Kong, 2013. Image courtesy the artist.

Kingsley Ng, ‘Gallery Express’, 2013, 10 channel film installation. Installation view at Asia Society, Hong Kong, 2013. Image courtesy the artist.

Critiquing states of mind

Doran commented on the artist’s foundational interest in the ideas of relational aesthetics and institutional critique, highlighting how Ng has talked in the past about the influence of artists such as Hans Haack. Kingsely Ng responded that his grandfather, a newspaper seller, was one of the biggest influences on his work, referring to the Confucian teachings related to him by this family member. Valerie Doran summarises the Confucian philosophy as a means of “being detached and engaged in the world at the same time suggesting that Kingsley Ng’s practice is “about being in between places, between detachment and engagement”. Doran developed the idea, stating:

You don’t really critique governments or institutions so much but you critique the state of mind induced in us that leads us to be numb to the things around us.

Doran mentioned by way of example the work Gallery Express (2013). In Gallery Express the gallery is transformed into a train, with the multiple screens projecting images of train windows, fitted with a diary voice recordings made by a fictional passenger:

The story is about exile, about people escaping. They have a reason for traveling back in time for recovering something that is lost […]. It’s about migration, food issues, remembering and time.

Kingsley Ng, 'Moon.gate', 2014, participatory art project. View at park, Hong Kong, 2014. Image courtesy the artist.

Kingsley Ng, ‘To the Moon’, 2014, participatory art project. View at Jordan Valley Park, Hong Kong, 2014. Image courtesy the artist.

The moon works

Kingsley described his 2014 work To the Moon, a participatory work that departs from his invitation to children to imagine a future city constructed using the most basic of materials – water, wood, fire, earth and gold. Entitled 月台 (‘platform’ in Chinese), To the Moon is a site-specific, participatory installation presented at the Jordan Valley Park, a former dumpsite where the children’s city designs were shared with park goers. The event was held in mid-Autumn on the night of the traditional Full Moon Festival, which Kingsley explained was once an important time to give thanks to nature and plan for the harvests ahead. Illuminated by the moon at its fullest, a miniature train routes through the five imaginary cities, which Kingsley reasserted in the interview were conceived or “scripted” by a group of ten-year-olds, using only five elements in a renewable cycle.

By using only the most “elemental” of elements as the central materials of these imagined cities (turning away from our post-industrial and digital world’s reliance on electricity), the work seeks to reflect on the material infrastructures of modern life, asking “could this be the blueprint for the future?”.

Kingsley Ng, 'Moon.gate', 2014, participatory art project. View at Jordan Valley Park, Hong Kong, 2014. Image courtesy the artist.

Kingsley Ng, ‘To the Moon’, 2014, participatory art project. View at Jordan Valley Park, Hong Kong, 2014. Image courtesy the artist.

Doran and Ng continued their conversation, turning next to Moon.gate – a gallery installation most recently produced Taipei in 2015 and shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei. The work departs from the Chinese character 閒, which literally means “leisure”. Kingsley described how the character comprises two elements, 門 (gate) and 月 (moon), highlighting how the complex archaic characters 閒 (leisure) and 間 (space) are used interchangeably. The latter Chinese character, which means “space” depicts a gate inside which is a sun, while the former depicts a gate and the moon. Summarising the philosophy of time and space contained in these characters, Kingsley Ng stated:

This is the moment when there is a small gap and the light penetrates into an interior and informs the idea of space. When moonlight penetrates this gap into the interior space and when we are under this stream of light from the moon, it is called leisure. I was fascinated by this idea.

Kingsley Ng, 'Moon.gate', 2011-2015, site-specific installation. Installation view at Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art. Image courtesy the artist.

Kingsley Ng, ‘Moon.gate’, 2011-2015, site-specific installation. Installation view at Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art. Image courtesy the artist.

In Taipei, Ng blocked the window but recreated the moonlight using computer controlled programming. Ng explained that the work raises the following fundamental question for him: what is the state of mind required for listening to the world we live in today? Doran shared her experience of seeing the moonlit space in the middle of downtown Hong Kong at Osage Soho, where the work was first shown in 2011:

On a hot day in Hong Kong when you have exhaust in your nose and it’s noising the experience of walking into that moonlit space is actually quite shocking.

Doran added:

Your ability to create atmospheres in a white cube situation (and the technology involved in creating this moment) is something characteristic of much of your work.

Kingsley Ng, 'Gallery Express', 2013, 10 channel film installation. Installation view at Asia Society, Hong Kong, 2013. Image courtesy the artist.

Kingsley Ng, ‘Gallery Express’, 2013, 10 channel film installation. Installation view at Asia Society, Hong Kong, 2013. Image courtesy the artist.

Doran closed the interview with comments on the artist’s decision to become an artist, which she dated to Ng’s student days when he was studying computer science. Doran noted that the artist has often described his artistic career to be the result of a “pragmatic decision”. Kingsley Ng responded:

Art is about learning how to be a human being and that is a life’s work. In that sense art is very pragmatic.

Rebecca Close

1655

Related Topics: installationmixed mediamultimedianew mediavideoart and the Internetmuseum showslectures and talksvideosart fairs

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Preview: Mamut Art Project 2017, Istanbul

Mamut Art Project’s 5th edition gathers emerging art practices in Turkey.

Mamut Art Project returns to Istanbul for its 5th edition from 26 to 30 April 2017. Art Radar picks a few highlights.

Beyza Çoruhlu, From the series Mask: Behind The Persona, 2016, photograph. Image courtesy the artist and Mamut Art Project.

Beyza Çoruhlu, From the series Mask: Behind The Persona, 2016, photograph. Image courtesy the artist and Mamut Art Project.

Mamut Art Project provides an important platform for up-and-coming creative talents working in a range of disciplines throughout Turkey. 2017 marks the 5th edition of Mamut Art Project, which is held between 26 and 30 April at Istanbul’s KüçükÇiftlik Park.

Kaan Sofuoğlu, ‘Phole-AL’, 2016, game art. Image courtesy the artist and Mamut Art Project.

Kaan Sofuoğlu, ‘Phole-AL’, 2016, game art. Image courtesy the artist and Mamut Art Project.

50 artists were selected from over 1000 applications by a jury of five multi-disciplinary experts comprising Sarkis, Elif Bayoğlu, Övül Durmuşoğlu (curator at documenta 13 and 13th International Istanbul Biennial and selected by Artsy as one of the 20 Most Influential Young Curators of Europe), Murat Alat and Ali Raif Dinçkök. Art Radar picks a few highlights among the artist projects and events.

Burak Becheren (and Krüw), 'Ma Milkshakes', 2017, screenprint poster. Image courtesy the artist and Mamut Art Project.

Burak Becheren (and Krüw), ‘Ma Milkshakes’, 2017, screenprint poster. Image courtesy the artist and Mamut Art Project.

2. Krüw

KRÜW is an Istanbul-based artist collective with 20 artists from different fields including illustrators, sculptors and street artists. For the 5th edition of Mamut, KRÜW has created an exclusive series of works involving different interpretations of various iconic art pieces, which gives the title of “ikonz” to the series. One of the objectives of the collective is to demonstrate that art should be accessible, therefore all works in “ikonz ” are editioned silkscreen prints and will be available with affordable prices during four days at Mamut.

Performance line-up. Mamut Art Project 2017.

Performance line-up. Mamut Art Project 2017.

2. Mamut Performance Programme

Mamut Art Project for the first time this year includes a dedicated performance space with a performance programme curated by Simge Burhanoğlu, Founder of Performistanbul, and Seyhan Musaoğlu, Founder of Space Debris. In its first year, Mamut Performances 2017 explores the question “How are you?”, investigating what lies beneath this ordinary question through performance art. 16 artists to perform in this section were selected by the curators following the open call for applications.

Beril Ece Güler, From the series “Familia”, 2016, fine art print, 40x60cm. Image courtesy the artist and Mamut Art Project.

Beril Ece Güler, From the series “Familia”, 2016, fine art print, 40 x 60 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Mamut Art Project.

3. Beril Ece Güler

Beril Ece Güler was born and raised in Istanbul and graduated with a Film and TV degree from Istanbul Bilgi University in 2015. Travelling is a great inspiration for her photography and film work. After graduation she spent seven months in South America travelling around the continent and participated in a group exhibition (“Oxytocin: Experiments on Trust”) before preparing her “Familia” series of works for the Mamut Art Project.

Can Görkem Halıcıoğlu, From the series TOFAŞK, 2016, fine art print, 50x70cm. Image courtesy the artist and Mamut Art Project.

Can Görkem Halıcıoğlu, From the series “TOFAŞK”, 2016, fine art print, 50 x 70 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Mamut Art Project.

4. Can Görkem Halıcıoğlu

Can Gorkem Halıcıoğlu was born in Muş in 1989. In 2011 he started his education in photography at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University. Since then his personal projects on social documentaries and portraits have been selected for various shows, including a joint exhibition organised in San Francisco, entitled “A Portrait of Turkey’s Gezi Park movement”. Furthermore last month his collage work on “metropolis and its people” was exhibited at Beşiktaş square in İstanbul as a part of Beşiktaş International Photography Festival.

 

Mert Keskin, ‘NETWAVE / RAREWAVE’, 2017, GIF, video collage, 3D animation, mixed media, 3x55cm 1080p LED TV. Image courtesy the artist and Mamut Art Project.

Mert Keskin, ‘NETWAVE / RAREWAVE’, 2017, GIF, video collage, 3D animation, mixed media, 3 x 55 cm, 1080p LED TV. Image courtesy the artist and Mamut Art Project.

5. Mert Keskin

Since his early exposure to video game consoles and computers – an Atari at five, a Commodore 64 at seven and an Amiga at 13 – Mert Keskin, better known as Haydiroket, has always been drawn to the digital world. Having access to a personal computer at a young age, he unleashed his potential when he began creating digital artworks for Demoscene groups in the mid 1990s. His work resembles the aesthetic of 8-bit colour graphics seen in early Nintendo, Sega and Commodore devices. After establishing a strong presence on Tumblr (HAYDIROKET), the company asked him to become one of their official GIF editors, and he has since collaborated with other talented artists on the platform. Haydiroket is also the leader of an electronic band, Midiroket, and has interests in glitch art, video mapping, animation and photography.

Rebecca Close

1653

Related topics: Turkish artistsemerging artists, installationevents in Istanbul

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Subconscious Sewing: Thai painter Narissara Pianwimungsa’s Threadwork – in conversation

Art Radar interviews Thai artist Narissara Pianwimungsa about her oeuvre’s shift from painting to embroidery.

After a notable break from making art, Narissara Pianwimungsa returns to the art scene with a gallery show that explores her transition from painting to embroidery, the parallels between the two art forms, and how this new foray serves as a way to address the artist’s long time preoccupations.

Narissara Pianwimunsa, 'Ceremony', 2017, acrylic and embroidery on calico, 100 x 80 cm. Image courtesy Nova Contemporary.

Narissara Pianwimunsa, ‘Ceremony’, 2017, acrylic and embroidery on calico, 100 x 80 cm. Image courtesy Nova Contemporary.

In her latest solo exhibit entitled “A New Interpretation of the Paradoxical World” at NOVA Contemporary in Bangkok, Thai artist Narissara Pianwimungsa resorts to the craft of embroidery to reflect on questions that still plague mankind, despite living in the era of information technology. Examples of these questions are: “What’s the meaning of life?” and “Why do we feel lonely?”

Philosophical by nature, these inquiries are hardly discussed in public, but as the artist points out, they are inevitably imprinted on people’s faces. In this exhibition, Narissara Pianwimungsa translates such expressions to stitched animal forms that range from mammals to various creatures of flight.

Narissara Pianwimunsa, "A New Interpretation of the Paradoxical World", 30 March - 31 May 2017, Nova Contemporary, Bangkok, installation view of Narissara Pianwimunsa's works that feature insects, featuring (clockwise from left) 'Fae 1', 'Illusion' and 'Fae 2'. Image courtesy Nova Contemporary.

Narissara Pianwimunsa, “A New Interpretation of the Paradoxical World”, 30 March – 31 May 2017, Nova Contemporary, Bangkok, installation view of Narissara Pianwimunsa’s works that feature insects, featuring (clockwise from left) ‘Fae 1’, ‘Illusion’ and ‘Fae 2’. Image courtesy Nova Contemporary.

Running at Nova Contemporary until 31 May 2017, “A New Interpretation of the Paradoxical World” is the first solo that Pianwimungsa has mounted after many years of not producing art due to a personal tragedy. And since Pianwimungsa is a skilled painter, this exhibition is seen as a break from the discipline she has long engaged in. The artist, however, argues embroidery to be an expansion of her painting practice. Casually working with thread and calico as if it were just pen and paper, Pianwimungsa is able to express her thoughts and feelings with much sincerity.

Narissara Pianwimunsa, 'Dreams', 2017, acrylic and embroidery on calico, 320 x 215 cm. Image courtesy Nova Contemporary.

Narissara Pianwimunsa, ‘Dreams’, 2017, acrylic and embroidery on calico, 320 x 215 cm. Image courtesy Nova Contemporary.

Born in 1974, Narissara Pianwimungsa has been exhibiting her art since 2000. She received her BFA in Painting from Silpakorn University in 1996, and chose to pursue further studies, receiving her MFA in Painting from the same university in 2004. Her awards include the 15th Silpa Bhirasri Creativity Grants (2016) and the Purchase Prize Award of the International Print and Drawing Exhibition (2003). Prior to “A New Interpretation of the Paradoxical World”, she mounted solo exhibitions in Bangkok’s Galerie N and Art Republic galleries.

“A New Interpretation of the Paradoxical World” also demonstrates how craft continuously lends itself to contemporary art, and how contemporary art is concerned with nostalgia. Moreover, this solo show reveals the varied interests of the artist’s, such as Japanese anime and psychoanalysis, which are manifested in unexpected ways in her art. She expounds on the influence of her personal interests in her chat with Art Radar.

Thai painter Narissara Pianwimunsa fills her much-awaited solo exhibition with embroidered animal forms. Here, she poses in front of her work entitled 'Shadow', 2017, acrylic and embroidery on calico, 170 x 140 cm. Image courtesy Nova Contemporary.

Thai painter Narissara Pianwimunsa fills her much-awaited solo exhibition with embroidered animal forms. Here, she poses in front of her work entitled ‘Shadow’, 2017, acrylic and embroidery on calico, 170 x 140 cm. Image courtesy Nova Contemporary.

Art Radar is curious about your transition from painting to embroidery. What factors contributed to your change in media? Did you have any formal training in embroidery or is this activity something you have engaged in recent years?

First of all, I would like to thank you for your good question. I believe that attitude is more important than the media I use. Art (for me) is borderless; painting can be anything. Embroidery has a longstanding connection with everyday life: (just take a look) back to the simple ways in the roles of human activity. (And, then in) the 1970s, feminist artists turned to embroidery to make a statement, which transformed it from being considered as craft to being art.

Although I had no formal training in embroidery, I have always been interested (in it), (but) I only became passionate about embroidery after my father’s death. There is a belief that all pockets of the deceased must be sewn closed, a task which I undertook myself. After this, I realised that sewing can help me express my feelings.

Could you talk about the process behind your embroidered works? How has your training and education in painting influenced your thread work?

The process behind my work is straightforward, I prepare the calico, apply a rough sketch, paint some body parts and then start sewing spontaneously. Coming from a contemporary painting background, I consider this medium not to be different from sewing. Instead of a brush, I use a needle; and instead of paint, I use thread.

Narissara Pianwimunsa, "A New Interpretation of the Paradoxical World", 30 March - 31 May 2017, Nova Contemporary, Bangkok, installation view featuring Narissara's embroidered owls, 2017, acrylic and embroidery on calico, 50 x 60 cm each. Image courtesy Nova Contemporary.

Narissara Pianwimunsa, “A New Interpretation of the Paradoxical World”, 30 March – 31 May 2017, Nova Contemporary, Bangkok, installation view featuring Narissara’s embroidered owls, 2017, acrylic and embroidery on calico, 50 x 60 cm each. Image courtesy Nova Contemporary.

Narissara Pianwimunsa, "A New Interpretation of the Paradoxical World", 30 March - 31 May 2017, Nova Contemporary, Bangkok, installation view featuring Narissara's embroidered owls, 2017, acrylic and embroidery on calico, 50 x 60 cm each. Image courtesy Nova Contemporary.

Narissara Pianwimunsa, “A New Interpretation of the Paradoxical World”, 30 March – 31 May 2017, Nova Contemporary, Bangkok, installation view featuring Narissara’s embroidered owls, 2017, acrylic and embroidery on calico, 50 x 60 cm each. Image courtesy Nova Contemporary.

Your past solo exhibitions “Mellon Colle” and “Heart Core” have been dominated by the image of the human body – often depicted by circular shapes with big and expressive eyes. In your current exhibition, viewers see animals – animals that represent the feelings of man. Why did you choose to depict animals in “A New Interpretation of the Paradoxical World” instead of actual people?

I have been interested in psychoanalysis for a long time. Sigmund Freud explains in The Interpretation of Dreams that dreams are a way of expressing what the conscious mind has the inability to deal with and are often portrayed in animal form.

Humans and animals have had a long history and they are embedded in our subconscious. I believe everyone has dreamed of animals, whether tamed or untamed, being associated with people, which is why I use the animal form. (Animals) are easily relatable and I do not want to represent any specific individual (in this exhibition).

The pairs of eyes depicted in your works, whether belonging to humans or animals, are always bold and direct. Why so? Does this have anything to do with the traditional saying that it is only the eyes that speak the truth?

I think there are many sayings regarding the eyes and their importance spiritually; however, none of these have had a great influence on me. As a young girl, I was always interested in Japanese manga and anime. Its characters are often illustrated having vivid and striking eyes. Maybe this has had the most substantial effect on my work.

"A New Interpretation of the Paradoxical World" includes a series of rabbit sculptures made from resin by Narissara Pianwimunsa. Image courtesy Nova Contemporary.

“A New Interpretation of the Paradoxical World” includes a series of rabbit sculptures made from resin by Narissara Pianwimunsa. Image courtesy Nova Contemporary.

Narissara Pianwimunsa, 'Double', 2017, acrylic and embroidery on calico, 230 x 170 cm. Image courtesy Nova Contemporary.

Narissara Pianwimunsa, ‘Double’, 2017, acrylic and embroidery on calico, 230 x 170 cm. Image courtesy Nova Contemporary.

Another commonality between your embroidered works and paintings are the dominant black and red hues. What do these colours mean to you?

There is a lot of research of about the use of black, white and red being the first colours we recognise when we are born. This is ever-apparent in advertising, playing on people’s deep-set instincts.

When I am working on my art, I never think about the colours I use. I express myself through my subconscious. Your question has really made me analyse why! Perhaps black comes from being in the womb, in darkness, red from the blood surrounding my feotus and white, the first vision, as I opened my eyes to the world.

Narissara Pianwimunsa, 'Red Silence', 2017, acrylic and embroidery on calico, 30 x 40 cm. Image courtesy Nova Contemporary.

Narissara Pianwimunsa, ‘Red Silence’, 2017, acrylic and embroidery on calico, 30 x 40 cm. Image courtesy Nova Contemporary.

Embroidery has long been associated with ideas of healing, renewal and fate. What lost ideas and thoughts would you like to revive in “A New Interpretation of the Paradoxical World”?

Nostalgia is what I am aiming for. [I’m] transporting [audiences] back to a time where the clock ran slower, giving people a chance to slow down, breathe and once again know themselves.

As an artist who has been exhibiting since 2000, where do you think embroidery fits in the Thai contemporary art scene?

I think, due to the rise in popularity of the Thai contemporary art scene and its ever-expanding borders, embroidery is perfectly placed to make a bold impact.

Javelyn Ramos

1635

Related Topics: Thai, gallery shows, interviewspainting, Bangkok events

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Why Art Radar’s art journalism and writing course is unique

Art Radar‘s Certificate in Art Journalism & Writing is completely unique.

It’s a big claim, we know, but it’s true. This course has three features, which together make it a total one-off. Read on to find out what they are.

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Because each of the four certificates in our new two-year-long art writing diploma course is taught entirely online, students can work from any city in the world. All that is needed is a reliable computer, a speedy Internet connection and a passion for contemporary art.

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To ensure your work meets the high editorial standards we set for our students and our staff here at Art Radar, your work will be workshopped by experienced art editors. This one-on-one editorial support is accompanied by a six-module course delivered to you by email fortnightly for the duration of your certificate.

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