SCMP 2010

You Are Here, I Am Not

Tuesday, 05 October, 2010, 12:00am

by Norman Ford

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You Are Here, I Am Not
Osage Kwun Tong
Until Nov 7

This exhibition honours Chinese University’s long-serving professor of painting, Lui Chun-kwong, with work from almost 50 artists who have studied with Lui at one time or another. The show not only provides a chance to pay tribute to Lui but presents new works from many of Hong Kong’s most active artists.

While the idea of showing an art professor’s work alongside their students’ is a tradition in contemporary art, the structure of Osage’s exhibition is slightly different – and perhaps problematic. The show is a sprawling spectacle of reinterpretations of Lui’s obsession with coloured striations. Many of these works simply redo his style, creating a kind of mash-up of conflicting approaches, while others creatively engage with the premise.

Au Hoi-lam’s meticulous installation deconstructs Lui’s process, sensitively sharing his obsession, while Jaffa Lam’s sculpture Landscape Bonsai literally explodes out of one of Lui’s canvasses in a rough and wonderfully organic fashion. Margaret Chu’s large-scale installation (above), consisting of sand bricks, wood and other media, is a mysterious and engaging reinterpretation of her former professor’s style, in contrast to Hung Keung’s colourful striped video, Why You and Me, which elegantly meets his teacher’s love of colour and line.

However, some works don’t seem to meaningfully connect with Lui’s modernist focus on colour abstraction. Pak Sheung-chuen’s Above 172cm Level attempts a humorous physical engagement, as he balances one of Lui’s paintings on his head, but comes across as more dismissively banal than clever.

Unfortunately the show is populated with similarly uninteresting efforts to conflate student and teacher’s style in combinations that do not work. It is ambitious but seems inward looking and indulgent, perhaps more interesting to the artists than any outside viewer.

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