Six-Part Practice Exhibition 六種練習

Six-Part Practice Exhibition 六種練習

As a not-for-profit art centre dedicated to contemporary art, Tai Kwun Contemporary every year hosts six to eight curated exhibitions presented by like-minded institutions and art groups. For one of the inaugural exhibitions, Tai Kwun Contemporary is proud to host Six-Part Practice: Wing Po So Solo Exhibition, curated by Kurt Chan Yuk Keung and presented by the MA Programme in Fine Arts of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. This is the Hong Kong artist’s first solo exhibition.

Accompanying the exhibition is an artist book by Wing Po So, From Space to Space: An Illustrated Guide to an Infinite Something, with a textual contribution by the esteemed Hong Kong writer Dung Kai-cheung.

Six-Part Practice: Wing Po So Solo Exhibition presents a journey of the senses to an alternate universe where history loses its specificity and fantasy takes on an anatomical structure. Here, Wing Po So presents a world where the physical body is dissected into its tiniest details and then expanded out to a celestial, even cosmic scale. Though inspired by the materia medica of traditional Chinese medicine, this is not an exhibition about that; the herbs and ingredients are but the vocabulary of the artist’s work.

Wing Po So grew up five minutes’ walk from Tai Kwun above a traditional Chinese pharmacy founded by her maternal grandfather in the 1970s. What is now called Soho was just another old neighbourhood in Hong Kong filled with unassuming print shops, ceramics stores, dai pai dongs, a bakery, and even a wet market. As a child, the piles of dried cuttlefish bones and shrivelled seahorses in the pharmacy held no particular medicinal value to the artist; they were simply her playthings, toys to pass the time with her younger brother. In this little shop, Wing Po So became inadvertently and increasingly aware of natural resources.

The family pharmacy eventually moved away from Staunton Street to a quieter area further west. Experiencing these rapid changes in the city and in local culture, the artist was overcome with nostalgia, and so she began to incorporate Chinese medicine into her art. Thinking about the diversity of medicinal ingredients as materials rather than curative remedies, Wing Po So has chosen six materials from her family’s pharmacy for this exhibition; in the form of sculpture, installation, and video, she explores the char- acteristics and personalities of these materials through obsessive repetition.

On entering the exhibition, one is greeted by a dizzying architecture whose shadows flicker around the walls, along with
three sound pieces serving as a soundscape for the works. The contrast between the clean minimalist lines of the structure and the theatrical unfolding of the shadows invites viewers to slow down and immerse themselves in Wing Po So’s fantasy world of multisensorial experiences. With human-like landscapes, she creates a push-and-pull between the organic and the artificial, a mixture of the prehistoric and the apocalyptic, a space where the boundaries between the human world and the natural world begin to blur. The artist’s contemplation of the connections between

the internal and the external, between the microcosmic and the macrocosmic is not merely influenced by traditional Chinese medical philosophy but also by her interest in psychologically focused science fiction (“psy-fi”). She cites as an influence Alan Lightman, an American physicist and novelist whose works fuse astrophysics and metaphysics with philosophy and psychology, presenting alternative universes in which everything we take for granted might be overturned. Or for instance in her work Appearance, which perhaps serves as a backdrop to all of Wing Po So’s sculpture in this exhibition, one might even detect a trace of the filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky in the moody, sweeping long shots of misty landscapes.

Wing Po So explores the themes of family, childhood nostalgia, and existentialism through large-scale sculptures that leave
a personal mark through mythological imagery. She dissects microscopic parts—for instance the nucleus and cell walls from different organisms—and creates uncanny forms that hover between the animal and vegetative realms, at times suggesting curious relationships between the infinitesimally small and the immense. Is it purely a coincidence that the branching of blood vessels resembles the complicated tributaries of a river delta when seen from space? Or on a galactic level, does that not also resemble superclusters of galaxies where the Milky Way is but a speck, connected and separated by tendrils?

Viewers are thus invited to let go of perceived reality and fall into an alternate universe conceived by the artist, one where the distinction between animal, vegetable, and mineral—and indeed the human—is fantastically blurred and confused. Her artistic practice is about considering the rhythm of things and fully engaging with our senses, about rediscovering hidden connections and uncovering new strands of awareness.

作為一家非牟利藝術館,大館當代美術館致力於推廣當代藝術,每年與其他志同道合的機構及藝術團體合作,承辦六至八個展覽。是次能夠以 《六種練習:蘇詠寶個展》作為開幕展覽之一,實在感到非常榮幸。本次 展覽是香港藝術家蘇詠寶的首次個展,由陳育強策劃,並由香港中文大學藝術系藝術碩士課程呈獻。

隨著這次展覽,蘇詠寶所創作的藝術家書籍《微物萬狀》亦將會推出, 部份文字由香港著名作家董啟章為其撰寫。

《六種練習:蘇詠寶個展》所呈現的是一場感官之旅,引領觀者進入另一 個世界,歷史在此將不再重要,取而代之的是被賦以解剖形態的奇幻想 像。在藝術家所構思的這個世界中,人體經過解構並被置於微觀之下審視,進而擴展至天體,甚至是宇宙層面。藝術家的創作靈感雖然源於傳 統中醫的醫學理論,卻不僅局限於此,中草藥和中醫元素在此化身為藝 術表達的媒介。

蘇詠寶自幼在一棟距離大館僅五分鐘步程之遙的舊樓長大,家的樓下是她外祖父於二十世紀七十年代所開設的中藥房。這片現今名為蘇豪區的地 方,當時僅是香港的一個舊社區,小型印刷店、陶瓷店、大排檔、 餅店和街市比比皆是。當時年幼的藝術家尚且意識不到藥房裡曬乾的 烏賊骨和海馬乾的藥用價值,它們只不過是她和弟弟手中打發時間的 小玩意而已。在小小的藥房裡,蘇詠寶不知不覺中對這些天然資源有了 深入瞭解。然而,家中的藥房後來從士丹頓街遷至更為安靜的西區,親 眼目睹著城市和當地文化的急速發展和變遷,藝術家感今昔懷,並開始 在藝術實踐中,以品種繁多的藥材作為藝術創作的媒介。本次展覽的作 品裡,蘇詠寶拋開藥材本身的療效,純粹把家中藥房的中藥視為素材, 選取了六種藥材為材料,以雕塑、裝置和視頻的形式,通過重複的手法 探討物料的特質 。

進入展館,迎面所見的是一個令人眼花繚亂的結構,它的影子於牆上搖曳,背景更有三件聲音作品所配襯出的聲效。結構中簡約流暢的線條與 影子戲劇性的鋪展營造成反差,令觀者情不自禁會為之放慢腳步,沈浸 在藝術家奇幻世界的多感官體驗之中。

作品仿如被賦予了人性,藝術家挑出了有機體與人造物之間的張力,同時將史前氣息及啓示錄般的意味糅合起來,形成一個人類與自然界限 模糊的空間。藝術家受到美國物理學家和小說家阿蘭.萊特曼的影響。阿蘭.萊特曼的著作融合了天體物理學、形而上學、哲學和心理學,描寫出的不同宇宙,徹底顛覆了我們認為理所當然的事物。在蘇詠寶的作品《表面》裡, 又或是本次展覽中的所有雕塑中,類似的氛圍貫穿著作品,成為了重要 佈景, 觀者從中甚至可窺探到一如電影導演安德列·塔科夫斯基式的傷 感痕跡,長鏡頭拍下了如迷霧般的風景。

蘇詠寶的大型雕塑帶有鮮明的個人印記,以神秘意象作為情感宣洩的出口,探討了家庭、童年回憶和存在主義等主題。她對微觀世界的關 注 —— 如對不同有機體的細胞核和細胞壁的探索,創造出的奇異形態 介乎於動物與植物之間,在兩者中徘徊不定,並不時向觀者揭示微物與 無垠之間的微妙關係。若從天空俯瞰,河川複雜的支流分佈酷似血管 分支,難道僅是一種巧合?或從銀河系的角度來看,這種分布難道不像 銀河系的超星系團,冥冥星系裡,銀河亦只不過是一顆小小微粒而已, 被一條鬚藤似的星帶尾巴相連起來或隔開。

藝術家以此邀請觀者拋棄向來所感知的現實,進入其所構思的另一宇宙之中,在這裡,動物、植物與礦物,甚至是人類之間的差異,都不可思議地變得模糊,令人難以分辨。蘇詠寶的藝術實踐細思著事物的節奏, 並積極喚起觀眾的感官,重新探索萬物間隱藏的聯繫,讓連串新意識慢慢開展。

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