Installation view, "Hong Hao: New Works", Photo: Louise Lo, courtesy Pace Gallery.
Pace is presenting "Hong Hao: New Works"at its Hong Kong gallery. On view from September 30 to November 10, the presentation spotlights mixed media paintings that the artist has created in the past two years. This includes his 2022 series Micro Sentence, which is being shown to the public for the first time in Pace’s exhibition in Hong Kong, as well as the latest works from Hong’s most representative Reciprocating and Everchanging Appearance series, and his acclaimed The Realm of Matters series of recent years.
As one of the most active conceptual artists in China since the late 1990s, Hong is known for his dexterous and witty handling of readymade materials, invigorating the Chinese contemporary art scene with his practice. Hong’s artistic approach and intervention to society and the public sphere always starts with the individual, gradually developing a self-sufficient conceptual system with a certain oriental aesthetic sense of harmony. Over the past decade, the artist has increasingly focused on the expressive potential of the material itself, continuing his observation and reflection on the social construction of value.
In one of his new works, titled Everchanging Appearance No.32 (2022), the artist uses plastic gel, exposed to different temperatures, to produce a fragmented texture like the "ice cracks" of ancient porcelain. Controlling the ambient temperature in the manner of ancient artisans, Hong explores the interesting contrast between the random and meticulous aspects of this process, reflecting the contrived construction of aesthetic taste. In this sense, the civil aesthetic has become a sort of ready-made as the materials, used by the artist skillfully and accurately in his works.
Hong Hao, The Realm of Matters No.12 (2021), Photo: Louise Lo, courtesy Pace Gallery.
Hong's The Realm of Matters series, which he began in 2020, centers on the development history of porcelain. In The Realm of Matters No.12 (2021), the artist arranges ancient porcelain fragments—purchased on a trading platform for cultural relics—into a specific pattern that recalls cosmic images such as the asteroid belt. Within this colorful, geometric composition, porcelain fragments fall gently onto the canvas, revealing their original states to viewers.
The light blue color and smooth texture of Song Dynasty porcelain evoke specific historical memories and narratives. The pinnacle of the beauty of ancient Chinese craftsmanship, porcelain wares were once reserved for exclusive use by royalty. Pieces that were not selected for the royal family were broken and buried to prevent others from taking them into their possession. A millennium later, these discarded fragments attracted the attention of researchers, and they started to circulate as commodities, traded and collected by members of the public. Porcelain fragments have been assigned different roles throughout history—from works of art to commodities. As such, they reflect the mercurial nature of the commodity society, embodying the relationship between objecthood and value.
On his canvases featuring porcelain fragments, the artist has left some indecipherable sentences that originate from slogans of modern Western thought or the reflective philosophical aphorisms of the ancient East by those who shaped human society in a powerful way.
Once again, Hong, in his characteristically playful style, brings contemporary and personal subjects into conversation with long and complex material and cultural histories. Through his practice, Hong often explores the dialectical relationships between appearance and substance, between the tangible and the intangible, between generation and annihilation. His work examines the constructed nature of social ideas and offers a contemplative pause of the consumption and consumer culture by manifesting materiality in its own right.
About the artist
Hong Hao (b.1965, Beijing) graduated from the Printmaking Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing in 1989. Much of Hong Hao’s work features assembled scanned images of various found objects including maps, books, tickets, receipts, banknotes, food, and containers. In his 2009 solo exhibition Hong Hao: Bottom at Beijing Commune, the artist exhibited a series that features the bottom half of everyday objects. By arranging the scanned images according to their forms and colors, he destructs the functional property of the materials and reproduces an undifferentiated, flattened, deliberately superficial world of aesthetics. Hong Hao’s work is included in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, U.S.A; the British Museum, London, U.K; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, U.S.A; the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, U.S.A and the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China, among others. The artist currently lives and works in Beijing.
About the exhibition
Dates: Sep 30 – Nov 10, 2022
Venue: Pace Gallery, Hong Kong
Address: 12/F, H Queen's 80 Queen's Road Central Hong Kong