16.52㎡ Open Sea |16.52㎡ 公海
Artists | 參展藝術家
Cai Dongdong, Szelit Cheung, Ding Beili, Ding Shiwei, Li Qing, Li Shun, Liu Ren, Ma lingli, Ni Youyu, Peng Jian, Shang Yixin, Shao Wenhuan, Shi Zhiying, Yang Xun, Yang Jinsong, Yang Yongliang.
Gregory Halili(Philippin), Hiroshi Sugimoto(Japan)
Curatorial Note | 策展理念
The sea is history.
Four million years ago the first human ancestors left the sea to live ashore. Two million years ago the earth was stuck in the Pleistocene ice age, with vast amounts of water still enclosed in the continental ice sheet, where sea levels were low and land was connected to land. Ten thousand years ago, ice sheets melted fiercely, the rising tide of water inundated the land between the New Guinea Islands and Australia and engulfed the Bering Land Bridge. Since then, various small civilizations have been trapped in their respective worlds and forgotten for centuries. With the expedition of the "Great Waterway", the dots across the world were reconnected via ships in forms of colonization, trading, monetary flows, and exchange of cultures. And Hong Kong is one of the civilizations derived from such currents.
Evidently, the bond between man and the ocean is not limited to their interdependence of existence.
There is a sub-category in Western landscape painting called ‘Seascape Painting’. Only the manuscript used by Ma Yuan in the Southern Song Dynasty for his apprenticeship has survived. Ma Yuan's flexible lines simulate the movement of sea in different seasons and geographical environments, which on the surface appear to be just curved lines between inches, but in reality are traces of the movement of nature and the earth. It is clear that what Ma Yuan is trying to teach is not only the use of the brush, but also the understanding of the world. Although rarely found in pictures, the sea has been given a rich connotation in literature and faith. Ancient Chinese paintings took the civilization on land as its core subjects of portrayal, and thus, traces of ancient Chinese seascape paintings are rarely found. Ancient Chinese believed that China was a land at the center of the world surrounded by ocean. The vast area of the ocean beyond the land belonged to the immortals who lived in the island called Penglai, Fangzhai, and Yingzhou; as well as the Lord of the Sea, who takes sun and moon as his vehicle, born with a human face on the body of a bird. From the cradle of Chinese literature through the present days, the spiritual image of the ocean is often discussed in contrast with rivers and lands. Zhuangzi adopted the wisdom embodied by the Lord of the Sea to reflect the ignorance of Hebo, Lord of the River. Confucius said, "The Way is not practiced. I shall go ride a raft on the ocean 道不行，乘桴浮於海". And now, the ocean becomes as mysterious as the other side of the planet, free with infinite possibilities of imagination and metaphorical ideas with its freedom, abundance and divinity.
Different from the Chinese culture, the ocean in Japanese paintings has always been an important subject of embodiment across different periods in history. The tales in the classical Japanese chronicle Kojiki (‘An Account of Ancient Matters’) even attributed the birth of the land to the gods who stirred up the sea. Japanese artists portrayed the ocean in everyday context with various media and contemplated the meaning of existence and death while gazing at the sea. Yukio Mishima compared the ocean and the land to life and death: “The debris on the land is swarming, and it is possible to face the eternity here... just like the end of the human being can only face the deadliest in its most filthy and ugly form.” Standing majestically on the soil, the Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion), with ultimate beauty, looked “as if a beautiful ship that sails through a mass ocean of Time.” The trivial, disappointing reality of the land immediately became insignificant compared to the fine-looking sea. During the period when Shōmei Tōmatsu went to Okinawa to film the series of ‘Pencil of the Sun’, the island of Hateruma was still under the occupation of the US military. He nevertheless put the focus of his camera to the reflection of an interesting looking piece of cloud above the sea. The unspeakable pain of the people there was temporarily dissolved into the peaceful water. When putting it into the post-war context, such a piece of cloud captured by the lens of the Japanese Master of Photography seemed to bear countless metaphorical meanings.
Yet, the sea in Hong Kong is entirely different again. When Hong Kong artists began to examine the abstract meaning of the sea, it was already occupied as a colony for economic and trade exploitations. The waves that surround the island continue to recede, giving way to the newly filled land. The seascape is now only visible to those standing above the city’s skyline. Hong Kong-based artist Szelit Cheung laid layers of thin and refined drawings on paper to depict the sea surface under sunshine. The final works remind us of a faded photo or the shadows of an eternity. Art in the contemporary world could no longer be divided by geographical boundaries. Yet, the significant meanings embedded in the ocean have never been altered. Artists are still making totems of it with works in different forms. In this exhibition, gathering 18 contemporary artists from Mainland China/Hong Kong/Japan will use different media and forms to recreate seascapes and abstractions of the sea.
Yang Yong-Liang, famous for his unprecedented style of video art, adopts modern digital technology to present on multiple screens the scene in the water maps of Ma Yuan from more than a thousand years ago in Song Dynasty. While it may seem intuitive and overly simple to transform the images of the ancient painting into a digital representation, it, in fact, requires exceptional skill and knowledge. Through his video art, Yang hints at the simplicity and eternity of the ocean beyond time and space within the culture of humans, serving as a tribute to history. Shao Wen-Huan paid a similar tribute but with a distinctively different approach. He refers to ancient paintings (such as the "Xiangxiang" of the five generations of Dong Yuan) and used rendering techniques similarly used in blockbuster movies to create a sea of wonderland. It is a form of "anti-photography", a new "painting" of the digital code generation.
Japanese photographer and architect Hiroshi Sugimoto is well-known internationally for his precise and distilled seascape portraits. The seas and terrains in his photographs appeared as if they were in two separate universes that run at different time trajectories and in distinctive ways. He reckons that there is a unique way of measuring time in the sea, and therefore, uses virtual focus and a long-exposure lens to break free from the conventional concept of time and space, looking through the sea in search of the beginning of time when the universe was still merely chaos. More often, the ocean is not depicted as literal and specific but as an abstract symbol, a kind of imagination and ostentation. "Easy Travel" by artist Ni Youyu is a collage series of seascape photographs. NI has collected tens of thousands of old photographs taken by unnamed photographers around the world for many years. He classifies them, cuts, reorganizes and gradually collages them in an "anti-photoshop" way – a subjective seascape. Photography is no longer photography but a fragment of time and space. The sea in Yang Jinsong's paintings is pure in colour, with lines chasing each other across the surface of the painting, deliberately abandoning all metaphors of seascape art and returning to pure painting. Yet Yang Xun's paintings are quiet and deep, extending beyond the canvas. Li Qing cut the film fragments of the sea collected for two years to form the video work "Sea". The interaction between man and sea went from slow to intense, and finally back to the quiet sea level. At the same time, in his painting, he used the classic seascape painting from the history of Western art but deliberately dug the center of the picture. The absent scenery evokes more delusions to complement his video works.
In the book ‘Vertigine Della Lista’, Umberto Eco talks about infinity. He said that the purpose of the frame is to suggest that we have an example of an infinite set in the picture. In this exhibition, the art space of Galerie Ora-Ora shall naturally be suggesting an infinite sea of ‘art’. Each of the artists in Ocean provides pieces of one or a few pieces of the sea, and the fragments were aggregated to form a small open sea. We shall calculate the exact total area of the open sea to formulate the final name of the exhibition.
The exhibition is curated by the curatorial team Xⁿ Office and presented by Galerie Ora-Ora.
Yang Jingsong 楊勁松
在《Vertigine Della Lista》一書中，Umberto Eco談到了無限性。他說，畫框的目的是暗示我們在畫面上有一個無限集的例子。每位參展藝術家都提供了一塊或幾塊海的碎片，碎片聚合在一起組成了一片小小的公海。我們將根據最終的參展作品，計算出公海的面積，為展覽定名。安伯托·艾可在《無盡的名單》一書中談到無限，他說畫框的目的在於暗示我們在畫面裡所見到的是無限大集的一個示例。在香港方由美術空間中的一片公海，自然也在暗示無限大的藝術之海。