Critics’ Picks

View of “Wong Wai Yin,” 2016.

Hong Kong

Wong Wai Yin

Spring Workshop
42 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen 3/F Remex Centre
August 20–October 16

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 the exhibition’s main concern.

Her works are about catharsis and recalibration. In Clearing Ten Thorns, Wong is filmed stomping on pieces of produce, to each of which she has assigned a problematic idea. Patriarchy, for example, is a blueberry—easily squashed. The work that shares the exhibition’s title, Without Trying, comprises a series of watercolor posters that distort and thereby subvert cliché phrases.

The ancient Greeks said, “Know thyself.” If the show is an experiment in self-exposure, it is all the more impressive because that does not seem to come easily to Wong. Her works feel honest and deliberate—an act of will overcoming her nature, as summed up in Don’t Resist the Lightning, an acrylic orange lightning bolt that strikes from the ceiling to the height of Wong’s head, alluding to her anxiety disorder. The exhibition’s focal point is an installation titled Wish You Were Eternal, in which the artist has destroyed all her old works still in her possession and entombed them in three wooden pyramids—a process that must have been as difficult and sad as it was freeing.