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Erwin Olaf
Date: Nov 27 , 2008 - Dec 27 , 2008
Biography
Artist: Erwin Olaf
Fall – Erwin Olaf

An accepted truism is that a great portrait photograph captures a fleeting moment of perfection and reveals honesty in the eyes of the sitter. In inimitable style, Erwin Olaf turns the tables on this concept in his recent series Fall (2008), in which he combines awkward portraits of young models with still-life images of foliage in painted vases. The plants are pert and spiky, the models droopy and unfocussed, their eyes partly closed. These are not the cute and perky teenagers of Benetton ads, dressed in rainbow-hued knitwear. Instead Olaf uses the palette of post-war austerity – washed-out colours in the natural hues of cork, straw, marble, teak and terracotta. The five female and five male models are draped in skin-toned clothes. Wearing tan and pale pink, Olaf’s models seem nude, though their emotions are camouflaged.

“I was intrigued by the idea of a portrait in which something is out-of-sync,” explains Erwin Olaf. “It became a new type of sexy, to photograph a beautiful model blinking at the wrong moment, using a camera angle that is slightly wrong. It is disturbing to see this incorrect fraction of a second frozen in a portrait. Yet with the still-lifes, there is a timeless aspect, since I could make tiny changes during the shoot, moving the plants a little bit to the left or to the right. When the portraits are seen on their own, they seem restless, but when they are placed next to the plants, they gain a more relaxed attitude.”

In the Fall series, the viewer remains uncertain of the true emotions of the slim models, the symbolism of the angular plants and the links between what could merely be seen as the botanical versus the suicidal. Given christian names that defy precise ethnic grouping, the models seem to be hovering in limbo, caught at a time when they are beyond feeling shy, self-conscious or exposed. Photographed up to their waists, they lean forward in expectation, all of them looking down, with the exception of Simon. While shown in various states of undress, in an under-vest, with shirt unbuttoned or clad in lingerie with a nipple peeking out, Olaf’s models are not vulnerable, despite their sense of hallucinogenic ambiguity. In any case, their partly-closed eyes gives them that "slightly dumb and stupid look" that Erwin says he sometimes seeks in prima donnas and male models.

A series which began with an outtake from a photo-shoot involving a beautiful young female model with her eyes half-closed, Fall is also the result of an artist tackling his own insecurities. "How can I simplify my language?”, asked Olaf. “What do I now look for in my photography? Why am I so intrigued by the shutter speed?”

Meanwhile, the splayed stems in Olaf’s still-lifes emerge from the slender necks of simple ceramic vases in muted tones. The stalks are cut or dried. The only living plant in the series is carnivorous. Each vase stands alone on a different minimalist timber table. In a lesson in subdued décor, the flat background textures are rough, made from a combination of reed matting, bamboo patterned wallpaper, pebbled concrete, brick veneer and coarse fabric. The surfaces are blushed, blemished and freckled, like skin.

The décor is clearly linked to two other recent projects by Erwin Olaf. Le Dernier Cri (The Latest Fashion, 2007) is a short film set in Paris in the spring of 2019. The film begins as an ode to European opulence, as the camera lovingly wanders through a spotless house decorated in stylish retro-chic. We hear a distant piano lesson, a housewife using a vacuum-cleaner, a house-fly buzzing as an omen of doom. Like the Venus fly-trap in Fall, the ideal home becomes a metaphor for terrifying, all-consuming beauty. The doorbell rings, a niece visits her aunt. As the door opens, we register mandatory shock – the two women are surgical freaks of the near future, their faces distorted by cosmetic protuberances punctured with pearls, their jewelry injected into their faces. As they chat about milk and sugar, horror is given suburban normalcy. Olaf’s hyper-realist vision has been critically referred to as “Jacques Tati meets David Lynch”.

Fall uses minimal digital post-production. Olaf says it signals his desire to go back to basics. Fall is out of step with the perfect imagery demanded by fashion. Fall refers to the colours of autumn, but also to a fateful sense of demise - the fall from grace, the fallen angel, the pride before the fall. It denotes a slump, a moment of enfeeblement. Together with the spindly floral arrangements, Erwin Olaf’s classical memento mori function as a sharp reminder of how quickly beauty fades.

Jonathan Turner, Rome
Yoshitaka Amano
Date: Sep 4 , 2008 - Nov 20 , 2008
The exhibition of Yoshitaka Amano has been prolonged until November 20th. New works of the artist will be featured.
Postcapitalism Kidnapping
Date: Jun 13 , 2008 - Jul 12 , 2008
‘Postcapitalism Kidnapping’ is a collaborative exhibition by upcoming French artists Frank Perrin and ZEVS, their first ever showing in Asia. Perrin’s dramatic yet detailed photographs have not only captured the visual spectacles of various fashion catwalk shows, nor do they simply pronounce and accentuate the relationship between man and architectural space, they in truth subtly mirror and reflect on the notion of ‘buying’ into a fantasy world that is built by the believe system of consumerism. The infamous act of ‘kidnapping’ and manipulating symbolic elements from established brand names has been the core of ZEVS’s creative efforts. Although they can undoubtedly be seen as an examination of our materialistic society, the strong presence of our deeply rooted association with these logos and the captivating and intriguing visual quality can hardly be ignored. Together they post an interesting question of our understanding and interaction with ‘consumerism’ through their stunning creations.
Group Show
Date: Mar 10 , 2008 - Apr 30 , 2008
Group Show featuring works by
AES+F
Stephan Balkenhol
Paul Blanca
Chen Qiuchi
Robert indiana
Ung-No Lee
Helge Leiberg
Pascal Lievre
Dennis Oppenheim
Barthelemy Toguo
Yan Pei-Ming
A Return to Silence
Date: Jan 17 , 2008 - Feb 29 , 2008
Biography Available works
Artist: Patrick Lee
Art Statements Gallery is delighted to present the solo exhibition of Hong Kong artist Patrick Lee. His third exhibition with the gallery and it includes a selection of new works from his latest series --- A Return to Silence.

Patrick Lee (born 1949), as a co-founder of the Para-Site Art Space, is one of most influential and respected figures in Hong Kong’s contemporary art scene for the past decade. Lee has exhibited extensively in Hong Kong and has held several successful exhibitions abroad since 1989.

In his latest series, A Return to Silence, Lee presents a collection of emotionally charged and stunning photographs that can be viewed and interpreted as a spiritual continuation and evolution from his earlier series (2000’s Night Vigil and 2004’s Look!). Primarily focusing on photography as the media of his artistic output, the camera acts instrumentally as a witness as well as a tool for self contemplation and reflection in his everlasting quest for internal truth.

In A Return to Silence, Lee has not only captured his most intimate thoughts and emotional states in these captivating and otherworldly images, he has also exposed his soul visually, without any reservation, in order for us to experience and see complex emotions through a set of often bewildered eyes.
Unidentified Emotions by Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller, Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler, Salla Tykkä
Date: Dec 6 , 2007 - Jan 15 , 2008
Available works
Artist: Eija-Liisa Ahtila
Art Statements Gallery is delighted to present a significant video group exhibition titled Unidentified Emotions by four internationally acclaimed and influential contemporary artists, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller, Teresa Hubbard/Alexander Birchler and Salla Tykkä, for the first time in Hong Kong. This exhibition will feature four celebrated and ground-breaking video works from the participating artists.

Each of the four video works reflects and investigates the possibilities of the ephemera of internal feelings. The issues that arise in these films touch on a unifying sense of unidentified emotions. In Ahtila’s Me/We; Okay; Gray, three short films resembling advertisements explore the issues of identity, sex, gender and fragments of reality. They do so in a way that reconfigures our perceptions of traditional video media. In their piece, Cardiff and Miller skilfully transform the role of the viewer by conveying an experiential atmosphere of urgency that is set around a burning house in the wilderness in House Burning. In the third work, the logic of time and space is challenged and dissolved by Hubbard/Birchler in Detached Building, a short film set in an empty house full of activities that alters physical and temporal realities. In the final oeuvre, a moment in a young woman’s life is captured and exposed in Tykkä’s Lasso. The subject’s physically inaction and her undetected emotions remain unchanged while witnessing a surreal and poetic act powerfully echoes the viewers’ role in relation to the work itself.

Together, these four pieces offer an intriguing challenge to the complexities of everyday human experience in a way that transforms the viewer from mere spectator into a willing actor who must confront basic human emotion in a thought-provoking way. The feelings that emerge at first glance may seem easy to label, but upon further introspection become less defined, and more transient.

About the artists

Eija-Liisa Ahtila was born 1959 in Hameenlinna, Finland and currently lives and works in Helsinki. Ahtila has been exhibiting in numerous leading institutions and exhibitions worldwide since 1988, including the prominent Doucmenta 11 in Kassel, Germany and the Nordic Pavilion, 48th Venice Biennale in 1999. She has also shown at Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Whitechapel Art Gallery in London, Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, Tate Modern in London, Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, Busan Biennale 2004, Museum of Modern Art in New York and 51st Venice Biennale.

Janet Cardiff was born 1957 in Brussels, Ontario, Canada, and George Bures Miller was born 1960 in Vegreville, Alberta, Canada. Both currently live and work in Berlin, Germany and Grindrod, B.C., Canada. Cardiff and Miller presented “The Paradise Institute” in the Canadian Pavilion at the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001, and were awarded with La Biennale di Venezia Special Award. Their most recent museum exhibition, “Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller: The Killing Machine and Other Stories 1995-2007,” is at Miami Art Museum in Florida until the 20th of January, 2008.

Teresa Hubbard was born 1965 in Dublin, Ireland, and Alexander Birchler was born 1962 in Baden, Switzerland. They currently live and work in Austin, Texas, USA. Hubbard/Birchler have participated in the prestigious 48th Venice Biennale, and have also exhibited at Miami Art Museum, Mori Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art at Altria, New York, Museum of Contemporary Art in Berlin, Lyon Museum of Contemporary Art and Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C. Their first major survey in an American Museum will be held from the 14th of September, 2008 to the 4th of January, 2009 at Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and will travel to the Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart, Germany in 2009.

Salla Tykkä was born 1973 in Helsinki, Finland, where she currently lives and works. Tykkä has been exhibited and collected extensively by major institutions such as 49th Venice Biennale, De Appel in Amsterdam, Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Centre d´Art Contemporain Genève, Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, Wellington City Gallery in New Zealand, Casino Luxembourg - Forum d'art contemporain, Musée d´art contemporain de Montréal and Collection Lambert in Avignon, France.

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