Samantha Kuok Leese

  • Jane Lee, Wing I, 2015, handmade cotton paper, 96 x 47 x 6".
    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,

  • View of “Antony Gormley: Event Horizon,” 2015–16.
    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

  • Left: K11 Foundation founder Adrian Cheng. Right: Collector Alan Lo, Asia Art Archive cofounder and executive director Claire Hsu, Asia Art Archive chair Jane DeBevoise, and Ronald Arculli. (Photos: Dave Choi/Asia Art Archive)
    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

  • Miya Ando, Gold Diptych, 2015, urethane and pigment on aluminum, 48 x 48".
    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

  • View of “Gao Weigang,” 2015. Left: New World, 2015.
    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

  • Magdalen Wong, Sunset, sunrise, 2011, metallic tape, dimensions variable. Installation view.
    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

  • View of “Gilbert & George: Utopian Pictures,” 2015.
    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

  • View of “Gonkar Gyatso: Pop Phraseology,” 2014.
    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

  • View of “Cai Guo-Qiang: The Ninth Wave” 2014.
    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

  • Sebastião Salgado, Iceberg between Paulet Island and the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica, 2005, gelatin silver print, 50 x 68".
    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

  • View of “No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia,” 2014.
    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,

  • Tomoko Kashiki, A Beast Hiding Treasure, 2013, acrylic, ink, paper, linen, wooden panel, 89 x 64".
    picks February 10, 2014

    Tomoko Kashiki

    Six paintings and fifteen drawings by Tomoko Kashiki make up the inaugural show at Ota Fine Art’s new space in Singapore. To create her paintings, Kashiki first covers a wooden panel with a linen cloth, then applies acrylic paint layer over layer, and finally sands it down. Only one of these six works —Flower Sun and the Moon Reflected, 2013—is painted directly onto the wood, which gives that image a more grounded feel than the other five.

    Painting of Shells, 2013, is perhaps the most affecting work on view. The scene appears to be an artist’s studio: A blond female figure lies to one side