venerdì 21 marzo 2014

Politically Speaking

Galleria Bianconi - Milano
From 20 March to 30 April 2014-

From 20 March to 30 April 2014, Galleria Bianconi is proud to present Politycally Speaking, the first solo show by H. H. Lim in Milan, which will mark the beginning of the gallery’s collaboration with the artist.

The exhibition, curated by Giacomo Zaza, revolves around a body of large and medium-scale work created for the occasion, alongside a series of videos made between 2012 and 2013. The paintings and videos build a visual narrative out of fragments in which images and words overlap, in an ongoing dance of semantic shifts, translations, and treacheries that reflect the era in which we live. Parallel to the show, there will be two important opportunities to take a closer look at the artist’s work: on Friday 28 March, the opening day of miart 2014, the gallery will host a video screening dedicated to the series Vittorio Square Story, while on Tuesday 15 April, it will organize Frankly Speaking, a conversation at the gallery in which artist and curator will discuss the links between aesthetics and politics, with guests such as Alberto Garutti, Hou Hanru, Evelyne Jouanno, and Gabi Scardi.

Born in Malaysia but based in Italy since 1976, H. H. Lim lives in Rome, where he graduated from the Accademia di Belle Arti and has been a leading figure on the art scene for many years. His practice, which ranges between video, performance, painting, and sculpture, is rooted in his complex cultural background, split between East and West. Wielding humor and provocation in equal measure, Lim's works always have a strongly narrative quality, blending and juxtaposing elements drawn from contemporary communication with imagery referring to the traditional, popular, or “high” art of his two worlds. Like messages waiting to be deciphered, his paintings contain segments of text or phrases written backwards, carved into the plaster surface; alongside them, without any apparent link, we often find figures drawn on monochrome backgrounds – a direct reference to the Chinese artistic tradition, which has always combined images with writing, at times with a meaning that cannot be discerned except by those already familiar with the code. Lim’s work is thus an exercise in apparently random association that sabotages the link between word and image, creating a synaptic leap that can only be subjectively interpreted by the viewer.

The works created for the show draw on current events to compose a fluidly shifting vision of the world that moves through everyday life. The contradictory set of rules and customs governing human relationships, and human existence in general, branches out and opens up into a game of mirrors that reflects spaces upon spaces, and more spaces still, both within and without. Three large wall panels—Iena in nero; Iena in rosso ossido; Iena in grigio—center on the figure of a hyena, evoked like a totem animal and accompanied by phrases drawn from the media (“io posso essere preoccupato, deluso, amareggiato / ma l’ira proprio non mi ha mai posseduto” [“I may be worried, disappointed, bitter / but I’ve never given in to anger"; “la politica è un piacere ma poi / diventa una droga fine a se stessa” [“politics can be a pleasure but then / it becomes a drug unto itself”]; “when did art stop believing in / the power of people?”). Alongside other, smaller works, the hyena pieces set a process in motion that is more visual than mental, completely open-ended, weaving together analogies and projections, content and references, without ever leading to a definitive interpretation. “The hyena is an ambiguous animal,” Lim points out; “a scavenger and predator, victim and tormentor, vulnerable and cruel at the same time. Each viewer who looks at the animal can identify it with themselves, with those in power, or with the victims of the system, depending on their personal standpoint".
In Words in nero, the narrative is entrusted to hands that follow the codified movements of sign language: gestures become words, the message is conveyed only through visual/gestural communication, and content becomes form. The same thing happens in Argomento di Stagione, an installation of PVC mats which visitors can walk on: a mosaic of images from TV programs that translate the news of the day for deaf viewers. Here, everyday information is modulated by the dance of the body, taking us on an unexpected journey through a new and shifting perspective on the world.
Coming full circle, the videos Vittorio Square Story, Hula Hoop and Daily Music once again underscore the cyclical nature of the artist’s gaze: working from the minor events that take place in the ordinary world around us, Lim arrives at a manifestation of it that is anything but ordinary, an ambiguous, shifting swarm of words and images, in a game that juggles sarcasm and reflection, trust in and mistrust of communication.

The exhibition is accompanied by two events that offer a closer look at the figure and work of H. H. Lim. On the opening day of miart 2014, Friday 28 March, from 6:30 to 10:00 PM, Galleria Bianconi will round out its presence at the fair with a video screening at the gallery. Exclusively for the occasion, it will be showing all the video works in the series Vittorio Square Story: films of varying duration, shot by the artist at different times with his personal video camera, showing scenes of ordinary and extraordinary daily life outside the window of his apartment in Rome's Piazza Vittorio. His home, and the events recorded live as they unfold, come to represent a sometimes harsh reflection on individual and global reality, which touches every one of us, everywhere in the world.

Last but not least, on Tuesday 15 April, Galleria Bianconi will organize Frankly Speaking, a conversation at the gallery featuring H. H. Lim, the curator Giacomo Zaza, and guests such as artist Alberto Garutti, a long-time friend of Lim’s; Hou Hanru, artistic director of MAXXI – Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI secolo in Rome; independent critic and curator Evelyne Jouanno, who founded the Emergency Biennale; Gabi Scardi, a critic, curator, and professor of contemporary art. The discussion will start off by examining how Lim’s artistic practice manages to encompass different social and cultural themes and contexts, then move out for a wider look, touching on some of the most pressing issues that shape our world toda

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