Review: Painting On and On - Taciturn

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 November, 2013, 7:51pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 November, 2013, 11:03am


Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity

"Taciturn" is the last edition of "Painting On and On", a series of five exhibitions held in 2013 initiated and organised by a group of 30 Hong Kong artists to explore the art of painting. Au Hoi-lam, the convenor of Taciturn, eloquently explains that the artists' rationale "seems to reek of nostalgia, and it is true that in the 1970s and 80s, it was popular for artists to be their own curators." She argues that the exhibitions demonstrate that artists can be "proactive" rather than allowing art events to be "planned and organised by curators and art promoters".

"Taciturn" exhibits the work of eight artists, whose different individual approaches make this exhibition an excellent overview of abstraction in Hong Kong today. The cross-generational mixture of artists has a tinge of both mentorship and equal collegiality, indicating fruitful get-togethers and studio visits while planning this show.

Au is one of the city's most sensitive painters, and her intelligent work in this exhibition subtly uses the base materials of canvas or board in their raw form on which to build-up a work of careful brush strokes and indentations. Frank Vigneron's calligraphic-like technical pen drawings, reminiscent of topographical maps, are exercises in precision and of endless permutation. However, he displays a new technological variation - a "translation" of a small drawn work, "morphed" into a computer, then blown up onto a large vinyl banner. The result is a camouflage-like design of broken lines.

Kitty Ko Sin-tung skilfully combines an out-of-focus photograph of a building exterior with lines of acrylic paint that follow the same image distortions. Using similar media, her accompanying work of architectural detailing complements the fine drawings of Kong Chun-hei. Kong's drawings generally replicate the form of real objects; this series uses a crumpled paper appearance to directly respond to the venue's interior and are deliberately placed in high corners and near the floor.

Exhibiting at Grotto Fine Art, Wai Pong-yu's Heart Sutra is an early example of his rambling abstract drawings. Lee Kit, Hong Kong's representative at this year's Venice Biennale, has included some quickly executed work. This fine exhibition of delicate abstract forms makes us, as Au advises, to "stop questioning, be taciturn sometimes, be talkative some other times".

John Batten