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Chewing Gum III – Group Show
May 24, 2019 - July 5, 2019
Hong Kong—Pace Gallery is pleased to present the themed exhibition Chewing Gum III, the third installment following Chewing Gum and Chewing Gum II, presented in 2015 and 2017 respectively. This exhibition continues Pace’s sustained studies in the Hong Kong gallery of the individual creative states of contemporary artists from different temporal, regional, and cultural backgrounds, with a special focus on relationships between “object and object”, “people and object”, and “people and people”. Here, the everyday act of “chewing” alludes to the ways in which a globalized context tends to dispel, and even dissolve, cultural differences, and to the effect of viewer participation in bringing about new connections between artworks. The exhibition will open to the public with a reception on Friday, May 24, from 6 to 8pm, and remain on view through 4 July.
The exhibition includes a sculpture by South Korean artist Lee Ufan, who emerged as one of the leading figures of the Japanese avant-garde group Mono-ha in the late 1960s. Relatum – expansion place (2008) arose from his rigorous search for the precise stone to juxtapose industrially produced steel plates. With these two elements in dialogue, Lee connects nature to human consciousness. The space, light, air and shadows that fall in and around the objects in Relatum are integral to the work’s poetic silence, and its breath-like contraction and expansion of matter. This conscious exploration of the external space through the inherent qualities of his materials can be linked to the artist’s own struggle with self-identification—he once said that he is neither Korean nor Japanese, and thus remains in a state of mutual exploration with the outside world. Contrary to Lee Ufan’s outward direction of expansion, Song Dong, a significant figure of Chinese contemporary art, is known for using quotidian materials and waste from the outside world and turning them into works of self-expression, as seen in his Usefulness of Uselessness series. Simultaneously poetic and political, personal and global, this work characteristically explores broader biographical experiences.
Similar links between the internal and the external can be found in other works in the exhibition. Joel Shapiro’s untitled red sculpture derives from the abstract, geometric style of Minimalism and elicits a sense of movement. He straddles figuration and abstraction with his arrangement of simple oblong beams, which suggests active human forms that appear to reach, balance and dance. Shapiro’s sculptures are capable of expanding from the space in which they are located. Louise Nevelson utilized found objects and discarded pieces of wood gathered from city streets, transforming disparate elements into unified structures. Her esteemed free-standing and wall-mounted sculptures, including Symphony 3 (1974) and Untitled (1976–78), use her iconic black paint, which infuses the works with the illusionary depth of light and shadow into the works, the artist elicits a three-dimensional sensation and a spiritual quality, encouraging the viewer to read the internal relationships within the sculptures with their own life experiences, summing up the objectification of the external world into a personal landscape. Another celebrated sculptor from the same period, Tony Smith expressed organic simplicity that functions both in isolation and in dialogue with the surroundings, found here in his work Generation (1965). As Smith said: “Generation is the first piece I thought of as a certified monumental expression. I don’t think of it as personal or subjective. I attempted to make it as urban and objective as possible.”
By stripping away the details of reality in his paintings, Tim Eitel presents a near-abstract simplicity that imbues his world with a serene and meditative atmosphere. Conversation (2018) and Photograph (2018) are figurative oil paintings that present a complete impression of the artist’s tranquil, compelling spaces. They highlight Eitel’s command of color, technique and form, and showcase his ongoing investigation of interior space, memory and perception. The pictures are a series of relationships between elements, of juxtapositions between people and spaces, and of the resistance and coexistence between the individual and the collective. With the same practice of turning elements of everyday life to the abstract, Irving Penn’s Seven Metal, Seven Bone (1980) and Construction with Nut, New York (1980), both from the artist’s Archaeology series, achieve abstract structure by reprocessing and reorganizing mundane objects, erasing the traces of human life, and giving new aesthetic values to these substances, along with new internal contexts.
American artist Kiki Smith is known for her multidisciplinary practice relating to the human condition and the natural world, focusing on incorporating animalistic elements into her work since the mid-1990s. Using a wide range of media—as in Ejaculating Snake II (2006), made of ink on Nepalese paper, and Prelude (2014), a large-scale glasswork—the artist explores the rich terrain of human and natural forms, of which decay, rebirth, and the cycles of the seasons, nature, and eclipses are recurring themes. The works also display her ability to move fluidly between materials with vastly different characteristics and properties. Known as the “father of Korean performance art”, South Korean artist Lee Kun-Yong works from the inside out, incorporating his own body into his gestural paintings and investigating the essence of art and its existence through perpetual experiments with body and space. “The Method of Drawing” is a term Lee uses in reference to his bodily drawings. He records the movements of his body using acrylic paint, leaving traces of his trajectories on canvas. His early pencil on paper works are also physical manifestation of these performances. As he has stated before, when the body serves as medium, the inner experience of life becomes connected to the external world.