Samantha Kuok Leese

  • interviews January 09, 2018

    Morgan Wong

    Morgan Wong is a Hong Kong–based artist, whose “Dash Series,” 2016, deals with the so-called nine-dash line (also known as the ten-dash line and the eleven-dash line), a vague and disputed geopolitical border used by China and Taiwan to claim a major part of the South China Sea. Two paintings from that series and a commissioned video, The Proposed Boundary, 2017, are currently part of the group show “So Far, So Right: A Study of Reforms and Transitions Across Borders,” organized by the Taipei Contemporary Art Center. The exhibition is on view at the Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts in Taipei through

  • picks December 01, 2017

    Dean Sameshima

    For Peres Projects’ first Hong Kong presentation (in collaboration with McNamara Art Projects), the Berlin-based gallery is exhibiting thirteen new and older works by Dean Sameshima. Many of the paintings, photographs, and prints place queer desire in the context of quainter but more oppressive times: when, for example, to circumvent obscenity laws, pornography was sent to readers of athletic magazines as back-page connect-the-dots puzzles (Torso, 2006; A Portrait of Mike, 2006; Anything Anytime… Now Nothing, 2007).

    Among Sameshima’s recent paintings, which he creates by projecting text onto

  • picks October 09, 2017

    “Trip of the Tongue”

    For her first show in Asia, curator Piper Marshall brings together works by five artists, including painting, sculpture, drawing, and photography. Titled “Trip of the Tongue,” a layered malapropism of the idiom “slip of the tongue,” the exhibition sets out to explore the problem of language through pieces that manipulate, even celebrate, the deficiencies of human expression and perception.

    The show is rigorously coherent, featuring a through line of dental imagery that, along with the tongue, constantly draws viewers’ attention back to the mouth, that imperfect instrument of language. Judith

  • picks March 20, 2017

    “.com/.cn”

    What do we mean when we talk about post-internet art? For curators Klaus Biesenbach and Peter Eleey, it is in part a question of geography. For this exhibition, they have selected eighteen works by Chinese and Western artists that explore how regional diversities and differences are informed by our digital age and consequently affect contemporary art practices. It represents the first sortie of an ongoing research partnership between the K11 Art Foundation and MoMA PS1. Many of the works, which range from Wang Xin’s virtual-reality installation The Gallery, 2014–, to Oliver Payne’s classical

  • picks February 15, 2017

    Michael Armitage

    The Kenyan-born artist Michael Armitage was thirteen years old and waiting outside a cinema in Nairobi when he witnessed a bizarre scene: A naked man with a tire around his neck was being chased through the streets by a mob, in an act of unlawful gang justice. Necklacing (all works 2016) depicts Armitage’s memory of the pursued subject, with his head turned to reveal a clownlike face. The haunting and humorous image is framed by two sutures in the canvas’s surface. Armitage paints with oil on cloth made from Lubugo bark, which is more commonly used to make sacred fabrics. When stretched across

  • picks October 12, 2016

    Tsang Kin-Wah

    The inaugural exhibition at the M+ Pavilion, “Nothing,” comprises a new site-specific commission of the same name made by Tsang Kin-Wah, who represented Hong Kong at the Fifty-Sixth Venice Biennale. Tsang’s immersive installation uses black-and-white video, sound, and text, and was inspired by the famous verse from Shakespeare’s Macbeth: “Life’s but a walking shadow . . . a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

    One small image, depicting a heavily burdened donkey, is projected onto the floor. Another picture takes up an entire wall, showing young men walking through

  • picks September 21, 2016

    Wong Wai Yin

    At the entrance of Wong Wai Yin’s first solo exhibition in five years, a small monochromatic video shows the artist lying facedown on the ground, dressed in black (Reborn Every Second, all works 2016). Repeatedly, spirit-like versions of Wong rise from her body and walk away. The work sets the tone for the rest of the show, in which Wong’s videos, paintings, and installations form a wry and resonant account of the feelings, including guilt, anxiety, and fear, that she confronts as a first-time mother. The artist’s psychological (and, to a lesser extent, practical) adjustment to motherhood is

  • interviews August 08, 2016

    Lee Kit

    Lee Kit is a Hong Kong–born, Taipei-based multimedia artist who represented Hong Kong at the 2013 Venice Biennale. His first solo museum exhibition in the US, “Hold your breath, dance slowly,” is currently showing at the Walker Art Center and features a selection of recent works. Here, Lee discusses his three-week residency in Minneapolis, the politics of his practice, and Every Colour You Are, 2016, the site-specific video and painting installation that he produced for the exhibition, which is on view through October 9, 2016.

    HONESTLY, I COULDN’T FEEL AMERICA. Of course I’ve read the news. I

  • picks March 30, 2016

    Margaret Lee

    Margaret Lee’s first solo show in Asia doubles as the Dallas Museum of Art’s inaugural off-site project. The commissioned series encompasses photography, painting, drawing, and sculpture, and reflects the artist’s interest in challenging historic structures of identity and power. Ten watercolors in Untitled (all works 2016), in particular, reveal a fascination with calligraphic gesture and distillation of form that is traditionally linked to Western male artists such as Jackson Pollock and Yves Klein. Lee’s works borrow from Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism and also rely on the concept of

  • picks February 15, 2016

    Jane Lee

    Jane Lee’s residency at Singapore Tyler Print Institute resulted in thirty-three works that represent the artist’s first departure from abstraction. Introducing paper to her remarkably tactile oeuvre, Lee focuses on sequences, cutting, coiling, folding, dying, and otherwise manipulating the material to create her narrative.

    Each iteration of Set Me Free I–VII (all works 2015) has a tangle of paper birds emerging from a cylindrical nest spray-painted blue, green, gray, or pink. On a superficial level, these new works do not exude the same confidence and verve as Lee’s 2013 exhibition of paintings,

  • picks January 04, 2016

    Antony Gormley

    Recent public art in Hong Kong has tended toward the lighthearted. Florentijn Hofman’s giant inflated Rubber Duck floated in the harbor in 2013 and Paulo Grangeon’s sixteen hundred papier mâché pandas appeared in flashmobs around the city in 2014. Antony Gormley’s Event Horizon, 2007, is a more cerebral public art project and a response to the island’s condensed and vertical environment. The artist compares his installation to acupuncture: minor displacements realigning the energy of the urban habitat in a healing way.

    Gormley’s thirty-one life-size iron sculptures are indexical copies of the

  • diary November 19, 2015

    Archive Fever

    UNDER A SLIVER OF MOON on a warm November night, a sampan on Aberdeen harbor ferried prominent members of Hong Kong’s art world to the city’s iconic floating restaurant, Jumbo Kingdom, for Asia Art Archive’s fifteenth anniversary fund-raiser.

    Opened in the mid-1970s, the gaudy, brightly lit barge resembles a Chinese imperial palace; it’s cherished by locals in the way that many tourist landmarks are—from a distance. “I can’t believe I’ve never been here before,” I heard often as delighted old-money Hong Kongers climbed up the gilded staircase to the entrance.

    Claire Hsu and her “dream team” at

  • picks October 22, 2015

    Miya Ando

    The word ephemeral appears often in the titles of Miya Ando’s recent paintings. There is Ephemeral Blue Grey Winter, 2015, Ephemeral Vermillion, 2015, and Ephemeral Blue Triptych 2015, among others. The description contrasts with the durable quality of Ando’s metal canvases, hinting at her focus on nature’s impermanence, the passage of days and seasons, in the context of a seemingly solid industrialized world. By brushing layers of urethane and pigment onto sheets of aluminum, Ando created ninety new abstract works for an exhibition at both of Sundaram Tagore Gallery’s locations, in Hong Kong

  • picks June 09, 2015

    Gao Weigang

    Suspended from the ceiling in a darkened room of Gao Weigang’s first solo exhibition in Hong Kong, a large golden jackhammer tilts downwards. A viewer’s presence stimulates a sensor in the room, and the drill point starts to turn slowly, glinting as it catches the light. The quiet movement acts as the winding key to a music box within the installation, which plays a recognizable though distorted rendition of Pachelbel’s Canon. This work, titled New World (all works 2015), is both menacing and alluring—the jackhammer’s destructive power contends with the vintage toy’s associations of bygone

  • picks March 04, 2015

    “Days push off into nights”

    “Days push off into nights,” a group exhibition curated by Christina Li featuring nine international artists, presents contemplations of time’s passage that are intimate, funny, and grand. The eleven works on view, which range from installation to photography to performance, coalesce in Spring’s uniquely laid out, converted industrial space.

    In the installation Sunset, sunrise, 2011, by Magdalen Wong, a row of windows in the gallery is slowly obscured by rolls of metallic gold tape as gravity unwinds them over the course of each day. Nearby, Moyra Davey’s Subway Writers, 2011, is a set of

  • picks February 17, 2015

    “Gilbert & George: Utopian Pictures”

    Though this clean, green metropolis is one of the world’s most orderly and secure, Singapore is also known for its draconian fines, corporal punishment, and controversial human rights record. There’s no small measure of irony, then, in Gilbert & George’s choice of Singapore as the site of their first solo show in Southeast Asia.

    The twenty-six new photomontages collate text and imagery that the artists discovered on daily walks around their East London neighborhood. The pictures are rendered in black, white, and vivid primary colors. The figures of Gilbert & George appear in the works: often

  • picks October 17, 2014

    Gonkar Gyatso

    In a timely exhibition of a new series of works, created from stickers, trinkets, and other ephemera, Tibetan-born artist Gonkar Gyatso explores the impact of global mass-media culture on his homeland’s traditional identity, and offers a comment on both Chinese and American hegemony. The collage Zhong Guo Da Ma (Big Momma China) (all works 2014) feels especially relevant. The collage consists of four stylized Chinese characters that spell out its title. The words, made of aluminum and Plexiglas on Dibond, appear on diamond-shaped paper backgrounds. Each composition is adorned with the kind of

  • picks October 01, 2014

    Cai Guo-Qiang

    This exhibition presents a series of Cai Guo-Qiang’s unsettling new works that draw attention to the current environmental crisis facing China and the rest of the world. Many of the pieces, which range from large-scale gunpowder drawings to installations incorporating porcelain, pools of ink, and sculptures, were created specifically in response to the museum’s past as a coal-fired electrical plant, a precursor to China’s present industrialization.

    Dominating the main hall is The Ninth Wave, 2014, an installation of ninety-nine life-size animals made of Styrofoam and wool keeled around the sides

  • picks June 16, 2014

    Sebastião Salgado

    In one photograph from the “Workers” series by Sebastião Salgado, a woman raises a shovel above her head (Worker on the canal construction site of Rajasthan, India, 1990). A scarf with light shining through it is draped over her head and across her body; she wears metallic cuffs with tassels on her arms and more jewelry on her neck, fingers, and nose. Salgado has captured her mid-effort: The scarf billows, and the tassels lift with her movement. The woman’s face is full of strength and story.

    Salgado’s photographs are uplifting and grand, evidence of the compassion and wonder with which he treats

  • picks May 30, 2014

    “No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia”

    For the inaugural touring exhibition of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, curator June Yap has brought together nineteen works by sixteen artists and collectives from eleven countries, represented in diverse media such as painting, photography, video, sculpture, and installation. Following iterations in New York and Hong Kong, this final show in Singapore marks a homecoming.

    The legacy of certain local historical events, ideologies, and religions has influenced many of the works. The partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 is a recurrent concern, for example, in the work 1:14.9,