YY9 Gallery: 10th Anniversary Exhibition
約翰百德 (John BATTEN)
at 5:53pm on 14th February 2015
1.-3. Chris Lo Sze-lim, Invitation to Murkiness: Disconnected, Secret, Whispering, 3 pieces, antique boxes, stoneware, leather, 250x250 cm each, 2014.
4. Otto Li Tin-lun, Vexations, watercolour on wood, 250x250x80cm, 2014 (The composer, Erik Satie composed a short piece called Vexations; he also suggested that it be played in succession 840 times. It was composer John Cage & the Pocket Theatre Piano Relay Team that completed the first 'marathon' performance in 1963 according to Satie's instructions).
5. Winus Lee, Call a Dish a Dish, porcelain, 250x250cm, 2014 (Winus Lee writes: "in Chinese, the idiom to "call a spade a spade", e.g. to be honest, is said as "calling a bowl a bowl and a dish a dish"! No matter the country, the essence of dialogue, is sincerity and frankness.").
(All photographs: John Batten)
(原文以英文發表，題為「YY9 畫廊: 10週年紀念展」。)
YY9 Gallery’s inaugural exhibition in 2005 featured Chinese University of Hong Kong graduate and ceramicist Chris Lo Sze-lim. Ten years later, it is his 3-piece Invitation to the Murkiness (see image of one piece) that appropriately takes centre-stage in this 10-year celebratory exhibition. Housed in three separate antique wooden boxes, three words are hammered into leather – “Whispering”, “Secret” and “Disconnected.” These are sensitively paired with three slabs of stoneware, respectively depicting a set of earphones; a slashed ribbon of clay, resembling a closed mouth; and an impression of a smartphone.
The barriers of time and distance have been furthered diminished by technology over these ten years. But, despite mobile and instant Internet communication, such basic emotions of nostalgia, longing, loneliness, and memory, especially for “past loves”, are unchanged - if not intensified - by our ease of communication. Lo’s three-word installation summarises the dilemmas of communication in the ‘connected’ world. His reflection of root emotions is entirely appropriate for this celebration of past success; and, a query of any unknown future.
Installation view of work on same-size canvases (detail), various artists, 2014.
Now in Chai Wan, the gallery initially started in a ground floor shop of an old Happy Valley tong lau as a casual offshoot of founder Barry Lam’s interior design company. Original gallery manager/curator Movana Chen herself had graduated from the then-new Hong Kong Art School/RMIT fine arts courses at the Hong Kong Art Centre and she has predominantly invited recent arts graduates to exhibit at YY9. The early exhibitions were happy, social gatherings and – significantly, following Chris Lo’s first exhibition - heralded a gallery that showcased artists outside the usual Chinese University’s fine arts’ graduate lineup.
This anniversary exhibition features 100 artists who have shown at the gallery, including the well-known Kacey Wong, Ivy Ma, So Hing Keung, Simone Boon, Jaffa Lam, Tang Kwok-hin, Almond Chu, Rosanna Li Wei-han and William Furniss. The strength of the gallery is its courage to exhibit not just already acknowledged, but unknown artists from around Hong Kong. Unfortunately, asking most contributors of this exhibition to use a standard, same-size canvas fails to show many at their best. However, this is forgiven - as is any overindulgence at a celebratory party.
10th Anniversary Exhibition @ YY9 Gallery, Chai Wan
A version of this review was published in the South China Morning Post, 3 February 2015.