Three to see in Hong Kong

Alex Prager, Hawkins Street, 2017, archival pigment print, 33 x 61 cm. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Mapuin, Hong Kong

Alex Prager, Lehmann Maupin, through 17 March

There’s something pleasingly over-the-top in Alex Prager’s photographs. While the subject (a woman crossing the street, a crowded club) often suggests something of street photography, the photographs instantly reveal their own artificiality, so apparent is the staging that went into their creation. Casting characters sporting retro outfits from the 1950s onwards, the slick finish of the photographs are reminiscent of Cindy Sherman in their cinematic quality and tentative blurring of fiction and reality. For her second Hong Kong show at the gallery, the artist is presenting a new series of elaborately staged photographs that go one step further in the exploration and manipulation of the medium’s parameters, using cropping, scaling and layering to an even stronger dramatic effect.

Michaël Borremans, Fire from the Sun
Michaël Borremans, Fire from the Sun, 2017. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, Hong Hong

Michaël Borremans: Fire from the Sun at David Zwirner, 27 January – 10 March

While David Zwirner announced last week his plan to open another, even bigger gallery in New York, this week sees the inauguration of the gallery’s Hong Kong space with a show of new paintings by Michaël Borremans. The Belgian artist creates paintings that are at once beautifully seductive and full of anxiety, while never revealing anything about what they represent. Set against neutral, minimal backdrops, the lone figures depicted by Borremans always seem passively engaged in mysterious activities, like mere instruments serving a narrative that escapes them (and in turn, us). And yet it’s hard to look away, so urgent does it feel to unravel the enigma and release that tension. The new series, we’re told, includes depictions of toddlers instead of adult figures, as well as paintings of obscure machines... the plot thickens.

Leung Chi Wo, Goin’ Out Of My Mind
Leung Chi Wo, Goin’ Out Of My Mind, 2017. Courtesy the artist and Blindspot Gallery, Hong Kong

Leung Chi Wo at Blindspot Gallery, 23 January – 10 March

Based on the 1967 leftist riots in Hong Kong – a fallout of the Cultural Revolution – Leung Chi Wo’s solo exhibition at Blindspot Gallery brings together video and photography as well as installations that incorporate found objects, music and images from the same year, while weaving in his own biographical history (he was born in 1968). Leung, who cofounded the artist-run space Para Site (also in Hong Kong), is best known for implementing history as a means with which to ‘reinforce our doubts about memory’ and question power systems. Presenting in this exhibition a combination of ‘archival research, conceptual intervention and poetic re-imagination’, Leung reflects on the contemporary sociopolitical position of his home city. 

19 January 2018