Art Appraisal Club Meeting
April Exhibition Review

1. Ju Ming — Sculpting the Living World
28/02/2014 – 15/06/2014
Hong Kong Museum of Art

  • Overall, the installation, display and the works as a combination is not appealing… in particular the spatial arrangements are a bit too messy to comprehend, apparently the volume and circulation of the visitors as well as the quality control of the art works together with their display are not being well considered in the process of making of the exhibition. There may be a lack of curatorial direction or that the curator was being put in a difficult situation to make effort, it could be a result of moving the collection into the museum from its origin in Taiwan that constrained the essence of the works to transcend.
  • Medium and material are the key for sculptures, yet the focus of the exhibition showing works of Ju Ming confused us as spectator with the application of a cage. The confusion of making such exhibition a showcase of sculptural works or that of installations, and that of a blur of making this an exhibition of modern art or contemporary art is a disappointment. Was such curatorial decision made as a bold move to unveil the Ju Ming that has never been known before? Or it was made as a pilgrimage of the masterpieces? This series of works being shown as such in the museum in Hong Kong lack a consistent and clear curatorial direction, nor it has a narrative to illustrate on the ways to understand the works respectively and as a whole; there is also no imagination at all, leading audiences to think that the works made in the 80’s were reaching the peak of the artist’s career… while the poorly-made video included in the show was sidetracking from the focus of the exhibition…
  • To be more constructive, we would ask ourselves as art administrators, art critic and art curator the question of how and what would we plan for the exhibition, if it was in our hands? The first thing comes to our minds is to reserve as much space as possible for reasonable distance and room for people to realistically appreciate the art works, selection of works to be shown is a must being put on top of the to-do list, the worst decision ever been made is to showcase all the pieces of Ju’s works like sellers in the wet market would do.
  • It is of utmost importance to comprehend the initiatives and philosophy of the artist, never make wild guess or superficial ways to understand his art – the making of the art all through the years is not as easy and simple as how it seems, like how the docent said in the guided tour… Docent tour is significance to an exhibition as well as the institution that launches it, it should be inspiring , appealing and interactive, never should it be a very uninteresting quiz or fill-in-the-blank. The content of the tours should be very critical and not to be just informative. Feedback is well gained when the docents learnt to examine spectators’ responses, and then these very important observations would build and develop the institution well.

2. Samson Young – Sound is a fluid, flowing medium akin to liquid
04/04/2014 – 18/05/2014
AM Space

  • It quite difficult to understand the exhibition, quite abstract and estranged, for there are 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional works that are very visual – though, having these said the ‘readability’ is quite high, the room for interpreting and imagining the works is very big, because the sound art and paintings are very well interacted to present a very pleasing effect.
  • It is quite disturbing to use headphones to listen to the art works in such a small space, the display should worked better technically. Though the experience is not an’easy’ one, there is a good balance between the spatial arrangements and the number of works being shown, which introduce well the audiences to enter their imaginations. For the details, the map that lead the way for people to comprehend the show could have done better, referencing the map is being restrained – limited space and complication of collecting the information made it hard to get hold of the works that should originally been very articulate.
  • An exceptional context was being applied in framing this series of works, which is well done to distinct it from the former works and shows, the concept used served as a retrospective that the artist proactively made a humble study of himself is very moving and creative. New attempt of presenting his old works is to made clear of the approaches and ways of how the artist think and comprehend his own art, while such work could derived other versions and editions, which is one of its kind.
  • A heated debate in the meeting was the complications and interwoven relationships of sound and visual images that composed the artworks, which was of great fun and highly critical, for these explorations could illustrate how interpretation (or interpretative curating) matters in the process of making of the exhibition and the aftermath of its appreciation and critiques. Stand alone in telling from which comes first – the audio (collected on spot at the site or postproductions?) or the visual elements – had made art works very rich. The aesthetic values come from the imaginations that it induced, and to think of the politics about sound as inspired by it. While such exhibition led us to think about why data and information collection are needed… But why are these days we are having so many archival exhibitions.

3. So I don’t really know sometimes if it’s because of culture: Mixed Media Exhibition by Leung Chi Wo
25/04/2014 – 17/05/2014
CMC Gallery, Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre, City University of Hong Kong

  • The exhibition connects with those art works made by Leung before, all the things arranged and showcased are very consistent, there were much layers with sophistications in the presentation of information, sound, text and dialogues, hence to lead audiences well to enter the artist’s imaginations. It may seem boring at the beginning, yet if one concentrates on his video, the translations and interpretations made were very delicate and mind-opening, which guide us to ask many questions on issues universal to people around the world, hence showing concern of people who live around us. Yet on the technical side of the presentation, it took too long to demand spectators to finish viewing of the video work, which the screen is too close to the audience, who may feel annoyed by having needed to wear headphones.
  • It is a tricky and somehow contradicting topic to discuss on the showcasing of creative works, it is a lifelong subject to learn and to explore on how to frame and represent the relationship between artists and their works. It is fair to say that artist took up the role as a researcher to examine on artistic directions when producing an archival show – it is never a concern on history but concerns on political stance, materials, contexts, society and the cultures.
  • Regardless of the spectators’ expectations from the exhibition, for both insiders in the field or public in general, the exhibition should gain credit for working on a clear and firm curatorial direction, and it is unfair to compare this show to the others with similar motif/theme. The works showcased keep a good distance with the viewers, meanwhile connect with people of different background. The viewing experience is unique for it carries the genuineness of Hong Kong as well estranges people to engage on issues that we usually omit in the everyday life.
  • Leung was not well presented by local press and media on his local qualities , however the coverage of him is quite well on international level, even though they did not address his ‘Hongkongness’ too.

4. Meditations in Mature: New Ink
27/03/2014 – 07/05/2014
Ben Brown Fine Arts

  • Everyone wondered why galleries chose to do ink painting exhibition, for such medium is never a common practice being shown? Or internationally the selling of ink art is not good. We wondered if the trend was being started by the feature made by Sotheby’s the auction house? Or the very well received show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art? Nontheless, those works are conceptual ink and not genuine (traditional?) ink art — this led us to another important question: What is ink art/ ink painting?
  • Did this exhibition promotes Hong Kong local ink art in its development?

5. Bonds of Memory: Wan Qingli’s Collection of Chinese Art Given by His Teachers and Friends Exhibition
13/12/2013 – 23/04/2014
Hong Kong Museum of Art

  • Is a wonderful show! Although the research and study done beforehand were not in good depth when compared to that done by the Academy (China Central Academy of Fine Arts), there should be more illustrations and discussions done on the narratives. It is better to do sectioning for the exhibition differentiating the various social circles in relation to the artist himself, so not to make the show fall into the ‘boring archival exhibition’ category.
  • The narrative of the show should not be made like a chronologic biography, the easiest way to display the works and to make sense of them is to understand well about the various social circles, and to do the arrangements accordingly. When the connections and networks are well illustrated, and with the good appropriation made of interpreting each significance piece and the exhibition as a whole, one would understand how the generation of artists at the time is so influential.