REVIEW

Vapor and Dust: Chinese artists Su Wenxiang and Xu Qu's critique of the rich

One artist highlights the selfishness of car ownership in big Chinese cities, while the other has produced an abstract commentary on art collecting that, paradoxically, will appeal to the collector class

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 July, 2015, 6:06am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 July, 2015, 6:06am

Many galleries have a short break or organise a group exhibition during August. Yallay Gallery's final show before mounting its summer exhibition features Su Wenxiang and Xu Qu, two promising young Chinese artists of the new generation. The artworks comprise colour field and monotone paintings that hark back to the abstraction of Americans Donald Judd (in Xu's case) and Ad Reinhardt (Su). On first appearance, the paintings by Su have a slick metallic look. With titles referring to luxury car brands such as Porsche and Maserati, it becomes clear that the paintings intentionally mirror the "cool" and luxury image of these cars.

But this isn't about cool, instead it's about the selfishness of car ownership in large Chinese cities. This is highlighted in Su's grey-and-white silent video, Beijing's Fog, which scans the city's highways and skies covered in murky, polluted air while, in contrast, glimpses of the same dirty exterior are seen through the windows of a fancy restaurant.

Xu's geometric abstract paintings, The Currency Wars, have a balanced, sober and measured appearance. These paintings are composed by appropriating and enlarging the details of the watermarks on banknotes from different countries.

Supposedly "a poignant commentary on the system of art collecting" (because of the obvious association with money), but to hide any of the guilt of owning such "poignant" paintings, they are better seen as pure abstraction, albeit with a beguiling decorative attraction favoured by the collector class.

Collectors like being informed that a gallery is exhibiting "emerging" and "promising" artists. Su and Xu have succeeded in critiquing the rich in this exhibition.

Vapor and Dust - Su Wenxiang & Xu Qu, Yallay Gallery, 6 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang. Until July 31