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The Sum of All Evil @White Cube by Jake and Dinos Chapman

June 01, 2013 / by / 0 Comment

Holiday has officially begun and it’s time to start planning the summer to-do list! In these past few months, there has been a wave of arts and culture events in Hong Kong — the Affordable Art Fair, the Rubber Duck Project, the M+ inflatable art installation at West Kowloon and the Art Basel. Though the rubber ducky is soon sailing off and giant roast pig soon to deflate, art exhibitions are far from over. In thinking of things to do during the baking summer of Hong Kong (and it’s only June!), why not escape into the air-conditioned and free-of-charge art galleries below for an afternoon that might surprise you? Guarantee that there’s no need to be über artsy!

The Sum of all Evil by Jake and Dinos Chapman at White Cube

This was actually the first time I’ve visited art galleries in Hong Kong. I have to say that I found the entrance of White Cube slightly intimidating, it looks like an entrance into a posh hotel reserved for the über artsy and for a minute I felt underdressed. Its black translucent door opens to reveal a white cubic space with the giant Chapman installation in its center.

White Cube @Central

White Cube @Central

Ground Floor of White Cube

Ground Floor of White Cube

The Chapman brothers are London-based artists who’ve exhibited worldwide. The Sum of all Evil is the fourth in a series titled Hell (1999) and the exhibition’s catchy title basically encapsulates its meaning. It features four vitrines arranged in what I think seems like a swastika shape. They contain large ‘apocalyptic landscapes’ of, among other things, Nazi soldiers, skeletons, dead bodies, McDonald figures, fast food and dinosaurs in explicit violence and utter chaos.

Dinosaur being attacked in The Sum of All Evil

Photo Credits: White Cube

The Sum of All Evil

The detail! Can you believe that this figure is smaller than your pinky?!
Photo Credits: Hong Wrong Hong Kong

The display is made of fiberglass, plastic and mixed media. Its size and impeccable detail is mind-blowingly remarkable. The figures measure about 2 inches tall and every single one has individual expressions. Every bone of the rib cage are finely crafted and even the wrappers of the fast food, smaller than the nail of my pinky, contain details of McDonald’s signature packaging! Every aspect is so lifelike that if you stared long enough it’s almost as if they’ll start moving…

Historical motifs of the Holocaust and contemporary consumerism with McDonald’s, automobiles, and Nike are obvious influences in the artwork. Rather than depicting any specific historical moment, The Sum of all Evil is an imagined landscape filled with anachronistic aspects of all possible ‘evils’. It’s definitely thought-provoking, raising issues of morality, the effect of modernization on society, the impacts of contemporary consumerism, ideas of progress, how humanity has improved, whether we have improved…

Crucifixion of Uncle McDonald in The Sum of All Evil

Crucifixion of Uncle McDonald in The Sum of All Evil
Photo Credits: Hong Wrong Hong Kong

I studied the installation for a good hour, trying to figure out its meaning, before realizing that there was a flyer explaining the work. I highly recommend looking at the exhibition first and reading the provided press release after, it makes it that much more fun when trying to decipher the display!

Above the ground floor, the first floor features for other small vitrines that continues The Sum of all Evil as well as a collection of paintings part of a series called One Day You Will No Longer Be Loved. The paintings are reworkings of 19th century family portraits that the Chapman brothers have found in auctions and flea markets and they are meant to raise questions of hierarchy, religion, morality and value.

One Day You Will No Longer Be Loved II (No.2)

One Day You Will No Longer Be Loved II (No.2)
Photo Credits: White Cube

Graffiti Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat in Gagosian Gallery 

Another gallery I visited was the Gagosian Gallery in Pedder Building (right beside A&F). Gagosian is currently exhibiting, for the first time in Hong Kong, a collection of paintings by American graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basqiuat. He died of heroin overdose at mere 27 in 1988 and in his short career he produced many artworks that challenged power, contradictions and dichotomies in society. I found the piece titled Return for the Central Figure (1983) (below left) quite interesting, it’s a sort of historical mind map.

Paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat

Paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat
Photo Credits: Gagosian Gallery HK

Zhu Jinshi: The Reality of Paint in Pearl Lam Galleries

Also in Pedder Building is Peal Lam Galleries just a floor below Gagosian. It currently shows a collection by Beijing-born Chinese abstract artist Zhu Jinshi (朱金石). His works are colorful imaginations of freely applied industrial paint that contains Western and Chinese influences.

Wind in Lhasa (2012) by Zhu Jinshi

Wind in Lhasa 拉薩的風 (2012) by Zhu Jinshi Photo Credits: Pearl Lam Galleries

 

 Exhibition Details:

The Sum of all Evil May 22 – August 31, 2013; Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 7pm @White Cube: 50 Connaught Road, Central

Jean-Michel Basquiat May 21 – August 10, 2013; Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 7pm @Gagosian Gallery: 7/F Pedder Building, Central

Zhu Jinshi: The Reality of Paint May 22 – July 13, 2013; Monday – Saturday 10am – 7pm @Pearl Lam Galleries: 7/F Pedder Building, Central

 

JW

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