Tom Balderstone UK 2012


Dao gave Birth to one.
One gave birth to two.
Two gave birth to three.
Three gave birth to all things.

This week I was lucky enough to attend a preview show for The Chinese Arts Centre’s newest installation: Dao Gives Birth To One, by Hong Kong based artist Hung Keung. Keung’s latest solo exhibit, which won him the Hong Kong Museum of Art Achievement Award in 2009, has seen various iterations through it’s lifetime, it is a piece that has changed with every country, adapting to the Artist’s ever shifting vision.

The piece is an incredibly interesting take on space, time and philosophy that stems from a reflection on Chinese culture. The main inspiration behind the work was the creation stories of Daoism, which states Dao gave birth to one, one to two and so on. So it makes sense that the exhibition feels very spiritual, often borrowing a lot from philosophy to push it’s point across.

On the surface Dao Gives Birth To One feels like a new age, media-heavy take on meditation, space and religion. Seemingly simple effects transform the space, begging the audience to become one with the work. Letters, sounds, colours and time all blend into a single entity and from them internal reflections hopefully spring. For most this is an incredible aesthetic experience that needs little analysis.

But this is a work of art that exists on two planes, the artist uses the ideas of Daoism and Chinese culture as a starting point for his intricate investigation of the ever-changing Chinese culture. To him these ancient beliefs are as symbolic to modern China as they ever were in traditional uses. When talking to Keung he discussed the idea of using the modern form to create a bridge between traditional reflection and the state of modern China. Ideas and philosophies go through cycles, the piece is ever changing but it feels as though it’s always about to reach it’s crescendo. The technology and presentation forces us to take a logical approach to deep philosophical issues raised, which to the artist is exactly what he wants people to do when considering China’s place in the world.

However not only does this work make you engage with China, you also begin to reflect upon your own place in the world. Dao Gives Birth To One is an incredible installation; on some level it engages on a ‘spiritual’ plain, causing reflection and self-engagement that is rare amongst art works on this scale. The thought behind it is so deep and well-constructed that it’s hard to draw criticism from it on any level.  An international piece well worthy of its high praise.


Dao Gives Birth to One is open now at the Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester.\

Pls click link for details !!

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