Critics’ Picks

Liu Wei, Purple Air VI-15, 2007, oil on canvas, 31 x 118”.

Liu Wei, Purple Air VI-15, 2007, oil on canvas, 31 x 118”.

Hong Kong

“The Burden of Representation: Abstraction in Asia Today”

Osage Hong Kong
Union Hing Yip Factory Building, 20 Hing Yip Street, Kwun Tong, Kowloon
July 23, 2013–June 26, 2010

Two works from a previous generation––one by Yang Jiechang and another by Ding Yi––are positioned near the entrance of this exhibition, arousing speculation and questioning the discourse and production of Asian abstract art in recent decades. By contextualizing these works alongside the output of younger artists, this show seems to construct a spatial version of a new history.

Lee Kit’s series “Story,” 2010, comprises drawings on cardboard based on fabric patterns Lee found on the Internet. In these Rauschenberg-like works, trademarked logos are buried under angular shades of color. Nearby, Liu Wei’s Yes, That’s All!, 2009, and Purple Air VI-15, 2007, transform the urban skyline and televisual noise, respectively, into a visual atonality, and Masato Kobayashi’s Light Painting, 2009, reveals a silver-painted canvas that struggles within a misshapen frame.

The works in this exhibition move beyond pure geometry and flows of color. From the textile-pattern flowers in Michael Lin’s Untitled, 2010, to the various small objects of Milenko Prvacki’s Collection: The Ultimate Visual Dictionary, 2009, many of the pieces here demonstrate a fragmentation of the figurative image. Curated by Eugene Tan, the show is not simply a showcase of painting but an exploration of the long-standing tradition of abstraction in Asian art, and this makes it more inspiring than a restaging of a rivalry between two styles of art (abstraction and figuration). However compelling, though, this gambit has not been explored fully enough to create tension. Instead, the works, as they are installed, recall strangers sitting with their backs to one another.