Opening / Event Date: 17 May, 2021
Closing / End Date: 24 Oct, 2021
POP ROCK An Exhibition About Rocks
Guest curated by Olivia Wang and Jérémie Thircuir
13 August – 6 November 2021
*Zhang Ying exhibiting in Hong Kong for the first time
Alisan Fine Arts is honoured to present a group exhibition POP ROCK that uses the scholar’s rock as a starting point to create a dialogue between high and low culture, past and present. Featuring 13 artists from Hong Kong and mainland China, the exhibition highlights the diverse explorations and perspectives of artists working in a range of different media—ink, photography, oil, sculpture, installation and video.
One of the challenges facing each generation of Chinese artists has been how to innovate and develop a personal idiom while remaining reverent to age-old artistic traditions. From the early twentieth century and increasingly in the last couple of decades, the desire to develop and incorporate Western aesthetics within Chinese art and culture has taken many different forms. This cultural hybridization has created much friction and misunderstanding of the formal, conceptual and spiritual dimensions of tradition.
As such, tradition today is often idealized. It is shrouded in a certain romantic myth that an artist is full of supernatural wisdom that connects to the natural elements, and is—unlike his or her audience—free from the material pressures of contemporary life. The notion of tradition thus has become almost sacred, and pushes the viewer further away from understanding it. POP ROCK seeks to bring tradition closer to us by making it more approachable and interactive. Symbols of the past need to be made alive and brought into the present in order to be appreciated and revered.
There is something otherworldly about beholding a rock—a prized icon in Chinese art history. An object for meditation, the rock was believed to be imbued with primordial and supernatural energies capable of dynamic transformations. From the Song dynasty, large rocks were an essential feature in gardens, and smaller ones made up home or studio collections, where they offered “imaginary travel” to mystical peaks and cave paradises.
Just as rocks have been appreciated for their mystical and natural beauty since ancient times, they continue to serve as objects of inspiration and curiosity for artists and collectors today. The abstract forms of a rock lend itself to endless possibilities of exploration and interpretation. Standing between an object from nature and a readymade enhanced by human hand, the rock also compels us to ponder upon the boundaries between culture and nature.
POP ROCK takes an irreverent and playful approach on this classical symbol, reflecting the idea that objects that we truly care about should be kept close and cherished.