March Exhibition Review

Art Appraisal Club Meeting Note



Date: 30th March 2014
Time: 1830 – 21:30
Venue: Hong Kong House of Literature

Light and Shadow Caravaggio The Italian Baroque Master@ Asia Society Gallery

  • Italy may just wish to make a fortune by displaying its national treasures in Hong Kong.
  • The addition of local artists makes the already superficial event (with justasingle piece exhibited) even worse.
  • The short film on the small exhibition venue at Pacific Place were mediocre and were hard-selling Asia Society. The Public Relations strategies employed did not bring to the exhibition the attention it deserves.
  • What’s pushing in the first place is its sponsorship by Hong Kong Jockey Club. Next comes the host of Asia Society (which actually initiated the exhibition); The choice of venue – one which does not suit the display of ancient paintings – has made the event a strange one.
  • The once locally displayed The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli was sold at a later time, after gaining recognition by displaying it overseas when it is no longer regarded as a public asset. Taking it as reference, it is not impossible the same would happen to this piece. It is worth exploring why all cultural institutions in Hong Kong reject the invitation of hosting such exhibitions.
  • The marketing strategy of “Once for a life time – a world renowned painting one must see in his lifetime” simply contradicts with the target of audiences’ appreciation of artistic value of the painting. With such financial input for curation of the exhibition, it does nothing more than discouraging public interest in the work.
  • When the audience target was not met, the tagline for promotion becomes “Help us to meet the target 400 000 audiences” –that is simply embarrassing themselves.
  • It didn’t take viewers into consideration. One viewer even commented, “It’s a painting to be seen in one’s lifetime. I bet we need to be educated on it.”, obviously echoing the tagline of the Public Relations Company.
  • “I really couldn’t understand it. I love viewing artworks, but I shouldn’t have come.” This comment clearly demonstrates the absence of education value in the exhibition despite the 5 million dollars investment.
  • The geographical location of and Public Relations strategies employed by Asia Society diminishes the value of the exhibition, wasting the good work.
  • Caravaggio, who is elevated in his artistic position in this exhibition, should be easily categorized as a “grass-root artist”.
  • The word “grass-root” employed in So Hing-keung’s description contradictorily makes the work even more sacred.
  • Sentences like “Tiring yet solemn”, “Tension of violence and sexual violence” render the description confusing.
  • Wrong information is on display: “chiaroscuro”, Caravaggio’s signature contrast of light and shades, should be termed “technique” instead of “style”.
  • The Chinese and English descriptions of the exhibition do not match each other.
  • The response to artists’ comments, focusing on the introduction of Caravaggio, in fact aims at elevating the work’s monetary value.
  • The forced categorization of the responding artists makes the curation awkward. In fact, Vigneron Frank Joseph Emmannel was invited curate the exhibition after both the exhibit and one responding artist, among others, are finalized.
  • The piece displayed in an already seen and unattractive way could not draw viewers to detailed appreciation.
  • The packed and weird display failed to fully utilize the relatively spacious venue which in fact could help exhibiting the work nicely.
  • The categorizing curation and choice of artists into “mystery”, “lights and shades”, “reality depiction”, etc was incomprehensible. Chow Chun-fai’s and So Hing-keung’s input were more relevant, while Tsang Kin-wa’s was an easy match in this case. Wong Mo-chei’s on the mystery of Daoism differed from that of Catholicism as depicted by Caravaggio, making it unconvincing.
  • The curation work is not demonstrated with preset artists and work. Labeling responding artists as admirers of Caravaggio is in itself problematic.
  • The curation and design of display shared the same goal: Creating a “worshipping” atmosphere.
  • Post-event note: An LCSD staff (who supposedly is a professional art administrator) commented the curation a “good interpretation”!
  • How should the next classical painting be exhibited in Hong Kong?
    1. Local artists should only organize workshops
    2. The classical painting should not be exhibited with works by local artists.
    3. If it is really to be done, it should be done on a “one-on-one” format
    4. Another option is to pick one single artist to respond to and explain on the work exhibited
  • The utter failure for exhibitions in Hong Kong lies in the irrational simplification of their content for the sake of popularity. It would be much better If the exhibits are presented the way they should be.
  • The Public Relations firm thought the general public could only understand “simplified” art. However, the real problem surfaced through this exhibition – art couldn’t gain popularity even it was simplified!
  • The Public Relations firm sees a presentation similar to that in art museums a failure.
  • The organizer should bear the responsibility of declaring its position / stance.

Pearl River Delta Series I: Made in Hong Kong Leung Mee-ping’s solo exhibition  @ Osage

  • The curator seems to be absent in the exhibition of Leung’s works, which need much curation.
  • The way works were displayed was like a salon exhibition. The chaotic presentation undermined the meaningful elements, while placing importance on the short film.
  • The interesting works presented her unique perspective towards the city.
  • The curator should have delivered the underlying meaningful elements, failing which means an vague stance for the exhibition.
  • She has multiple goals in mind to be achieved through her utterly sensitive and disorganized exhibition.
  • She offered diverse perspectives on China-Hong Kong relation – production and process, with the inclusion of figurative elements.
  • The series was rather clean when it was exhibited back in 2007. It has evolved into a large-scale installation art over the years.

It All Begins In The Sea Ling Pui Sze Solo Exhibition @ Gallery Exit

  • It was printing collage but not modern ink painting as expected. No information was available on its nature in the exhibition.
  • The content of the exhibition was too weak to give further explanation.
  • More observation is needed before further comments can be offered.

Once A Day Chris Huen Sin Kan Solo Exhibition @ Gallery Exit

  • The application of lines and inclusion of abstract elements bought an atmosphere of abstraction and Chinese painting. The ideas and presentation deployed to display underlying messages are similar to those for Chinese paintings.
  • Dense application of lines builds curiosity.
  • He successfully delivered his ideas on painting — Painting as happening, capturing emotions from visual and sensual experience. His ideas are exciting and presentation full of surprises.
  • He was endeavoring to display consecutive motions onto a still dimension.
  • His ideas and artistic techniques did not verse well in this exhibition
  • Really appreciate the lines applied at the background, which delivered his feelings to the full.
  • His manners and ways of thinking are too much influenced by Lam Tung Pang.
  • He owns the potential of exploration towards his inner self.
  • His colour application is similar to Stephen Wong’s. The way they filtered colours like David Hockney did makes it a trend.

Step Back to Nature Stephen Wong Solo Exhibition @ Ora-Ora

  • The artist’s position remains Stagnant – the exhibition showcased works of various styles over the years, yet it failed to provide explanation for such changes.
  • Virtual reality is a common theme for artists of the current generation.
  • The artist’s confidence in breaking away from the virtual reality perspective is shown through the artworks on display.
  • The artist has yet to reflect on the goal he wishes to achieve as a painter
  • He was making up a purpose for his works – he has a message to deliver, though unclear.
  • Was his goal confined if he possibly avoided encountering contemporary painting discourse? He has theoretical input but ignored traditional and historical issues.
  • Chris Huen dealt with those issues, while Stephen is halfway in between (handling and ignoring).

Perhaps Love Alex Heung Kin Fung Solo Exhibition @ Gorthe Institute 

  • A really bad visual experience for viewers.
  • Works are rendered weak with neither underlying reasons nor creative concepts. The single element of sensibility could not support the pieces.
  • Comparing with the previous decorative, boring exhibitions, this one marked improvements of the artist.
  • The exhibition is more relaxed – as demonstrated in his trial interaction with different materials through the application of painting techniques.
  • The way he handles materials has remained graphical – “a designer’s painting”
  • He has a strong desire to control the drawing plane as a sensitive designer
  • He had better adopt another approach in painting given the fact that he is no longer a new artist.
  • He offered more surprises through his works created from a designer’s perspective, after giving up his desire to be a painter. A good example is the earlier “flowers in porcelain” series.
  • His struggle lies between his desire and his identity/ability.

Affordable Art Fair@ Exhibition and Convention Centre

  • The Public Relations strategies successfully delivered the message of “bringing art home” – a direct and honest target to meet.
  • It is more like red light district in Amsterdam – you get whatever you want.

Chow Kai Chin (2) @ Junction Road to Tak Ku Ling Road, Carpenter Road to Prince Edward

  • Their efforts in these “unconventional” approach to art is valued, though there might be better ways in displaying works.
  • For an exhibition which relies greatly on routing, accuracy of the maps is the first priority.
  • Works can be sensibly placed rather than just on the streets.
  • It would be great if they could negotiate with shop owners on the possibility of displaying some works in the shops
  • The choice of alleys as a display venue is a good one.
  • How can Chow Kai Chin improve itself?
  • Avoid copying the format of Woofer Ten and Blue House, keep the scale small and profile low to make it sustainable.
  • The organizer should communicate more with shop owners in the area.
  • It is better to scale it down to an exhibition involving one to two streets
  • The large area covered makes it a tiring visit, while the short exhibition period makes it less appealing to audience.