Critics’ Picks

Chou Yu-Cheng, Chemical Gilding, Keep Calm, Galvanise, Pray, Gradient, Ashes, Manifestation, Unequal, Dissatisfaction, Capitalise, Incense Burner, Survival, Agitation, Hit, Day Light. II, 2015, mixed media, dimensions variable.

Hong Kong

Chou Yu-Cheng

Edouard Malingue Gallery | Hong Kong
33 Des Voeux Road Central Sixth Floor
June 16 - August 16

Taiwanese artist Chou Yu-Cheng’s current exhibition, “Chemical Gilding, Keep Calm, Galvanise, Pray, Gradient, Ashes, Manifestation, Unequal, Dissatisfaction, Capitalise, Incense Burner, Survival, Agitation, Hit, Day Light. II” is the second chapter of a project by the same lengthy name shown at Künstlerhaus Bethanien in 2015. Its focal point is a panoramic wallscape comprising paintings and other objects, with an enormous, central sheet of accordion-folded, gold-colored steel. In the work’s Berlin iteration, viewers were encouraged to chuck rocks at its gleaming surface; in Hong Kong, dents in the metal are the only records of earlier blows. Alongside, paintings are assembled at odd angles on top of silver surfaces resembling the facades of steel refrigerators, while white-painted dishes, pyramids, prisms, and cylinders lie as if haphazardly stored on shelves. Fruits, earthly symbols of domestic life and death, decay over the course of the exhibition.

The most ethereal presences are several gradient oil paintings, their hues emulating those of daylight: Each canvas contains seamlessly blended pastel tones of the sky at dawn. Painted a pale blue gray, the gallery’s walls seem to coyly mimic the canvases when reacting to shifting light. It’s not uncommon for Chou to transform spaces: His 2004 exhibition “Molyneux” saw an entire gallery floor covered in a bird-of-paradise-blue carpet. The show’s verbose title (which all the works share) is loosely based on psychological conditions surrounding social interaction and compulsive capitalism. In the main wallscape, strips of irregularly bent neon, acting as fragments of graphs, signify Taiwan’s rapidly increasing housing costs, while pie charts refer to surveyed happiness levels of the country’s citizens. Prayerful regard of the sublime and outright violence are two of humankind’s most natural channels for alleviating societal anxiety. Chou’s installation aestheticizes them both, evoking the awe inspired by the early morning sky, as well as the pent-up frustration that leads to stones being thrown. What else remains but such primal coping strategies, when one is left to navigate an increasingly unaffordable and unwelcoming world?