ADRIAN WONG: New Orient Garden


chi K11 art museum
Shanghai, China
3 November 2017 – 3 January 2018

The K11 Art Foundation (KAF) proudly presents a new exhibition of Hong Kong and Los Angeles-based artist Adrian Wong. Inspired by the artist’s own childhood recollections of the Far East, this exhibition, titled New Orient Garden, is a multi-sensory installation that investigates the psychological struggles faced while searching for cultural authenticity in many megacities and their diaspora communities, an issue that is particularly close to heart for Wong, a Chinese American raised in Chicago. This show is curated by David Chan Ho Yeung.

This encompassing installation takes, as its starting point, a ferocious cement tiger, once situated at the center of Tiger Balm Garden in Hong Kong. The historic complex left a strong impression on Wong during his first visit in 1985. Perched high on a rock above its ever changing surroundings, the tiger was one of the few constants in the garden’s history as it evolved from private residence, to Hong Kong’s first amusement park, to psychedelic statuary, to what remains today: like a ghost, little more than a sprinkling of brightly colored fragments stubbornly clinging to the cliffside. The schizophrenic physical alteration of Hong Kong has completely erased the trace of human subject; the only way to confront the obsolete is to study the ghostly to tell us who we are.

First greeted with a colorful corridor that draws visual references from the décor of a Chinese restaurant, like countless establishments found across the globe, audiences enter the garden through a round gateway. The compositional elements of this exhibition are displayed in an arrangement reminiscent of a classical Suzhou garden, designed to be viewed from set vantage points. Viewers are, however, invited to explore the installation on their own terms, journeying through time and space in an immersive experience. The result is a multi-layered work that encourages a diversity of readings. From one vantage, it presents itself as a study of a modern Chinese Lingnan landscape ink painting in front of a large-scale neon light commonly found in Hong Kong after dark; from another, artificial rock formations and arrangements of bamboo give way to a barrage of fog, light and sound,simulating a primordial state in the making.

The tiger is at once a nostalgic memento of days gone by, a Taoist signifier of spiritual power, a physical void, and a sombre reminder of failed cultural preservation efforts in a metropolis that thrives on the exchange of fortune and power. Through this exhibition, a once fearsome beast is given voice, and its ghost given new life. The multi-sensory juxtaposition of animation, sound and flashing light, contextualised within an artificial Chinese garden, functions as a critique of our infatuation with orientalism and probes oursubconscious by reversing the gaze back at the beholders. Investigating the city’s psychological ambivalence towards heritage preservation as derived from Western conceptions of ‘the Orient,’ this relational dynamic encourages the audience to contemplate the past when imagining a shared future.

Wong states his intention: “New Orient Garden is my attempt to distill and synthesize these ghosts, drawing not only from the landscape of contemporary Hong Kong, but its simulations and echoes the world over.”

Adrian Cheng, Founder and Honorary Chairman, of the K11 Art Foundation, said: “We are pleased to present this exhibition as a continuation of KAF’s mandate to meaningfully incubate emerging artists and support the professional practice of curators in Greater China. This new commissioned work is testament to the Foundation’s commitment of offering a creative platform to nurture artistic experimentation across medium, concurrently fostering new knowledge, ideas and dialogues.”

About Adrian Wong

Adrian Wong was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois in 1980. Originally trained in research psychology (receiving a Master’s degree from Stanford University in 2003), he began making and exhibiting work in San Francisco while concurrently conducting experiments on young children. He continued his post-graduate studies at Yale University, where he received an MFA in 2005. Relying heavily on a research based method, his installations, videos, and sculptures draw from varied subjects and explore the intricacies of his relationship to his environment (experientially, historically, culturally, and through the filter of fantastical or fictionalized narratives). These organic and open-ended artifacts of his process often involve a collaborative engagement with subjects.

Wong has been based in Hong Kong since 2005, where he is the co-founder and director of Embassy Projects, an arts consultancy and independent production studio. His recent exhibitions include the traveling exhibition “Troglodyte See the Light,” “A Passion for Creation” for the Louis Vuitton Fondation pour la Création, and “Hong Kong Eye” at the Saatchi Gallery. His videos have been screened at the Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, Bangkok Experimental Film Festival, and Kunsthalle Wien. He is the winner of the 2013-2014 Sovereign Asian Art Prize. And his work is included in the Uli Sigg Collection (Lucerne), the Dominique and Sylvain Levy Collection (Paris), the Kadist Foundation Collection (San Francisco), Sifang Art Museum (Nanjing), Hong Kong Museum of Art (Hong Kong), M+ Museum Collection (Hong Kong), and the private collections of William Lim (Hong Kong) and Hallam Chow (Hong Kong) among others.

About David Chan Ho Yeung

David Chan is a curator based in Hong Kong. He was the director of the Shanghai Gallery of Art at Three on the Bund from 2007 to 2009 and subsequently the director of Osage Gallery until 2011. He holds a master degree from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, New York, USA. Past exhibition projects presented at Pearl Lam Galleries include: 2012, Ecce Homo Trilogy I- Tsang Kin-wah. 2013 Deja Disparu- Ho Siu-Kee, Ellen Pau, Sara Wong, Vincent Yu. 2014 After Time- Chung Seoyoung, Erica Lai, Morgan Wong. 2015 Asynchronous, Parallel, Tautological, etc…- Ni Haifeng. 2016 Foot and Moon- Suki Seokyeong Kang. The Third ScriptBoo Junfeng, Linda C.H.Lai.

About K11 Art Foundation

Founded by Adrian Cheng in 2010, the K11 Art Foundation (KAF) is a registered not-for-profit organisation that supports the development of Chinese contemporary art from Greater China. KAF provides a creative platform that nurtures Chinese artistic talents and brings them to the international stage through collaborations with leading art institutions across the world. The Foundation also serves as a unique incubator for young and emerging Chinese artists and curators to create new and meaningful works, through research, initiatives, partnerships and artist-in-residence program.