Review: Galerie Perrotin's Forest of Illusions

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 August, 2014, 9:44am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 August, 2014, 9:44am

Forest of Illusions
Galerie Perrotin
Until August 23

In this summer exhibition, curator William Zhao selects three Chinese artists from the region's Sino-triangle: Cheng Ran (mainland China), Tsang Kin-wah (Hong Kong) and Yang Yi-shiang (Taiwan). There is no obvious theme holding the exhibition together, but the artists are individually strong and allowed to fully utilise the gallery's three viewing spaces.

Tsang, who will represent this city at next year's Venice Biennale, has exhibited around the world over the past decade, including outings at the Lyon Biennial and Tokyo's Mori Art Museum.

His recent work is elaborate sound and video installations and he generally alludes to personal experiences of violence and hypocrisy, drawing on a strong social conscience and philosophical doubts.

The seven White Porn paintings on display are from his earliest explorations employing illusional painting with violence, and in this case sexual exploitation/titillation, as the subject. From a distance, these paintings appear purely white, but shockingly pornographic imagery slowly emerges with each step closer to the work.

Cheng's Always I Trust is his latest video and features popular actress Carina Lau Ka-ling speaking to an unseen person. Her narration is a sad and compelling monologue: the words of a spurned lover, lonely, jilted. She waits for replies to her sent emails, which are never answered.

However, this one-sided dialogue is really a series of carefully chosen sentences sourced by Cheng from junk emails. The video's sense of desperation is built by an opening shot of a claustrophobic tunnel and Lau slowly ascending a high-rise building, ending with a view of an inverted panorama of Shanghai. The video closes with an inside shot of a spiral-shaped illuminated walkway.

In contrast, self-taught Yang's paintings are strongly narrative and personal. Using simple, but finely painted detailing in matt paint, Yang covers issues such as global warming, the innocence of children and individuality. Her ability to sustain a story is successfully achieved in the ambitious eight-panel tableaux painting This 10 Years, as she remembers a past and then an imagined future relationship.

John Batten