SQUARE, Affinity Art gallery, HongKong

SQUARE | 正方 ( group exhibition ) 
Artists : 
Johan De Wit
Le Quy Tong
Ha Manh Thang
Lam Siong Onn
Somyot Hananuntasuk
Date : 7July - 11September 2019
Location : Affinity ART gallery Hong Kong

1/F, 1 Queen's Road West, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Email : [email protected]
Phone : (852) 3173 8626
Info : 
Affinity Art is delighted to present SQUARE, a group exhibition that brings together the exploration of this geometric shape by six contemporary artists from Europe and Southeast Asia. The omnipresence of squares in everyday life renders them ordinary and often overlooked. What can this elemental geometric shape achieve in art? Artists manoeuvre the form as they seek to reinvent the recognition of the square. The diversity of the works presented span from the artists’ socio-political and cultural concerns, to journeys of abstraction and inner contemplation.

To start with, Belgian artist Johan De Wit alters the shape into palm-sized three-dimensional structures crafted from paper and hardened with a mixture of resin, marble and iron powder. The resulting puffed sculptures, each with its unique folds and dents, create a wavering equilibrium between action and inaction, movement and temporary stillness while instilling a sense of aesthetic that challenges our perception on materiality and gravity.

Referencing Western antiquities, the work "Venus" by Irfan is a realistically executed portrait of the Greco-Roman sculpture. The Indonesian artist finishes the work by painting brightly coloured square and rectangular shapes atop the figure, hence creating a stark contrast of contemporary expression against ancient art. This interplay of art form between two vastly distinct time periods engages a discourse on the relative appreciation of arts. How do we perceive art as time passes?

Le Quy Tong depicts mass protests around the world based on photojournalistic images found in the media. In the work titled “No.4”, the imposing central banner is chequered. At first indiscernible, the words "Occupy Everything” gradually become visible through the empty gaps of the pattern. Chequered squares, here, adopt a simultaneously masking and revealing role suggesting an analogy to the way information - and truth - is selectively disclosed in mass media.

Returning to square as an elemental shape, in "Fading Winter #14" by Ha Manh Thang, a perfectly square canvas is chosen as the base format for the representation of a blooming iris as found on one of his antique Vietnamese panels. The motif is sculpted out from fresh impasto layers with the resulting negative spaces revealing some gold undertones within the matt anthracite-like surface, a parallel hinting to a past of lost glory. The square format of the work suggests a cropped image where the edges no longer act like boundaries but rather lead viewers to imagine the rest of a wider, larger work.

Lam Siong Onn, uses watercolours to depict everyday landscapes from his native Malaysia; wood huts and village jetties are simplified into assemblages of shapes and juxtapositions. In "Village Jetty", Lam overlays the work with a grid of large translucent squares, the additional axes and symmetries transform the rugged scene into a striking contemporary composition. In "Abstraction", rooftops and windows are further distilled into ethereal geometries of warm pastel hues.

Finally, Thai abstract artist Somyot Hananuntasuk visualises his meditative journey, an instinct-driven expression of his inner reflection. His trail of thoughts meet and form squares unintentionally and transform into a visual experience where creation is no longer bound by perceivable subjects but by the musing and emotional process along the way.

From physical representation to personal introspection, from literal to abstract, the presence of squares in the exhibition encourages a continual dialogue between artists and viewers on the perceptual ambiguities of this ubiquitous shape and its limitless adaptations.