Arthur Solway

  • “The Legacy of Architectonic Futurism”

    Architecture exhibitions can feel like slapdash microcosms of urban sprawl, touting utopian optimism and making claims for innovative design’s miraculous capacity for transforming the ways in which we think about space and live our daily lives. Luckily, “The Legacy of Architectonic Futurism” was something else: a superb tribute to the visionary architect, educator, and artist Lebbeus Woods (1940–2012).

    Woods had a politically and socially charged agenda, along with a somewhat pessimistic worldview. His architecture was based on crisis and conflict. “Architecture is war,” he once said. “War is

  • Hu Zi

    In her recent exhibition “Stone Flesh,” the Shanghai-based painter Hu Zi, widely recognized for her focus on portraiture, presented a quirky collision of mythologies with new oil paintings and sepia-toned gouaches based on Michelangelo’s David, 1501–1504; Bartolomeo Ammannati’s Fountain of Neptune, 1565–74; and other Renaissance sculptures, interspersed with and punctuated by paintings of David Gilmour, the British rock star and former lead guitarist of Pink Floyd. Known also for her roster of celebrity portraits—stand-ins for the artist herself by way of, say, Johnny Depp’s Edward Scissorhands

  • Shi Yong

    Shi Yong’s solo exhibition “Under the Rule” continued a trend of cool-handed minimalism that seems to be de rigueur for Generation X artists working in China. A role model for millennials, Shi, who graduated art school in 1984, was among the first Chinese artists to critically approach issues about contemporary cultural identity, consumption, economics, and globalization. An early example of Shi’s apprehension or skepticism about the art system is Sorry, There Will Be No Documenta in 2007 (2006), a proposal for billboards to be placed throughout the city of Kassel, announcing a hiatus in the

  • Zhou Tiehai

    Zhou Tiehai may be best known for campy paintings in which he transposes the head of Joe Camel, corporate mascot of the cigarette brand, onto paintings by Goya, Ingres, Manet, and other European masters. You might also recall his airbrushed portrait of Rudolph Giuliani, Libertas, Dei Te Serventi (Liberty, May God Protect You), 2002, which was included in “The American Effect: Global Perspectives on the United States, 1990–2003” at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in 2003. The bottom corners of this canvas sport a pair of elephant-dung balls, a playful homage to Chris Ofili’s

  • Nina Canell

    “Reflexology,” the title of Nina Canell’s first solo exhibition in China, seemed an apt topic for a culture that has long purported the medicinal benefits of foot massage. Entering the sparse ground-floor gallery space, which was carpeted in a dingy, low-shag, wall-to-wall industrial chartreuse, one immediately noticed the imprint of the sole of a single shoe or slipper seamlessly inlaid into the carpet’s surface. At first it appeared to be a house painter’s accident, a haphazard mistake, but closer inspection revealed a tattered and well-traveled history. As the title piece to the exhibition,

  • David Salle

    Anyone who has ever been to a bustling Asian metropolis will be familiar with the barrage of visual information coming from all directions. So it’s no surprise, really, how David Salle’s distinctive and often discordant work perfectly situates itself in such a context. His first solo exhibition in Hong Kong’s compressed and restless urban landscape consisted of five recent medium-scale paintings, dating from 2014 to the present, along with ten small paintings made this year. The carefully balanced exhibition didn’t feel cramped. The same might be said for the works themselves, in which a thoughtful

  • “The Uncertain, or the Shelved . . .”

    Gallery group shows, especially big, sprawling affairs, can often be disjointed, totally hit or miss, leaving the viewer feeling unsure of the curatorial intention beyond shrewd or blatant commercial motivations. This definitely wasn’t the case with “The Uncertain, or the Shelved . . . ”. Conceived and curated by the Chinese Conceptual and installation artist Shi Yong, with considerable input from the participating artists, this exhibition posed the question of what artists might do when nobody is looking—that is, when experimentation and uncertainty drive the process and become the essential

  • picks September 25, 2016

    Fan Ho and Michael Wolf

    Having reached an era when the genre of street photography might feel passé, two concurrent solo exhibitions by the Hong Kong–based German photographer Michael Wolf and the preeminent Chinese photographer Fan Ho bring views of urban life in Hong Kong past and present, which succinctly unites the two shows. Fan, who passed away last June at the age of eighty-five, was part of the Chinese diaspora that fled the mainland for Hong Kong in 1949. Fan’s black-and-white gelatin silver prints, from the 1950s to the 1970s, tell a compelling story through the lens of young refugee dealing with the crisis