Silence in your cup of tea

Works by KONG Chun Hei in Taciturn

Works by Kong Chun-hei in Taciturn

Autumn is a recess after energetic summer, before the festive winter comes. It is the season to experience the transit of two climates that we had better quietly replenish our body, mind and soul through recent exhibitions.

Coming to its fifth, artist-run project Painting On and On presents Taciturn. Convenor Au Hoi-lam invited seven artists alike in terms of medium and artistic practice, who “are not willing to see painting overloaded with content… [and] choose to work quietly as a way to demonstrate their attitude and concern for the living world.”[1] In short, it doesn’t matter which works are exhibited as long as the artists within her circle have been adopting the taciturn attitude towards their non-expressive[2] paintings. Isn’t it the case?

In Taciturn, there are works of drapery, surfaces of stuff and repetitive yet attentive lines. Most are of artists’ signature taste, which is “quiet, unexciting, not entertaining and even too vague to be comprehended.”[3] As such, I believe what the convenor tries to grasp is not the artists’ attitude towards creation but the representational taste of the works (not a particular work). Reluctant to elicit content, these non-expressive paintings are often subject to viewers’ interpretation. Hence, a viewer’s frame of mind is important.

Violet Past Prime by Wai Pong Yu

Violet Past Prime by Wai Pong-yu

As a viewer, how do you act in your gallery and museum visits? For me, exhibition is a place for contemplation that I do not talk much but walk a lot. I take photos and bring home printed materials for reference. I check in Foursquare in order to accumulate a higher level of Warhol badge. So how would you respond to a visit, like checking-in, instagramming, contemplating, jotting notes on your journal or the guest book, talking to staff or artists, blogging it or creating an artwork of yours? No matter how one responds to exhibitions and artworks or not at all, taciturnity is a preferred condition for viewers. But still, it is not an attitude.

In “Sparkle!” at Oi!, there is a pre-emptive exhibition to showcase curator-led art project proposals across 2014-2015. Among those, a project looks into “how creativity can be integrated into daily life and can create genuinely unique experiences”[4] according to one’s attitude. In “When Art Becomes Attitudes” curated by Vivian Ting, there is a psychology test that defines 9 types of attitudes. By answering a chain of yes/no questions, anyone would be classified as the Daredevil, the Outsider, the Formalist, the Happy Bunny, the Socialist, the Naturalist, the Philosopher, the Emotional or the Overachiever. Like horoscope telling, it does not function as predicting future but defining a mindset about oneself. The test classified me as the Happy Bunny; I believe in art for everyone and everyone is an artist. Whichever attitude type you are, regardless of taciturn or talkative condition, what is your philosophy of life in respect of art?

If you want to give it a thought, chill out at I’mperfect Xchange shelter also located in Oi!. They serve free herbal tea that may calm your disturbing mind, nourishing your inner qi, improving your sight – a perfect prescription for exhibition-goers!

Visited Taciturn on 25 Oct, 2013 at HKICC Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity, Sparkle! Art for the Future and I’mperfect Xchange on 24 Oct, 2013 at Oi! on 12 Oil Street

The article was also posted at The House News.


[1] “Be Taciturn Sometimes, Be Talkative Sometimes” Convenor’s note of exhibition Taciturn, Au Hoi-lam, 2013.

[2] Ditto; a term from “non-additive practice of ‘non-expressive’ expression” coined by Au Hoi-lam.

[3] Ditto

[4] “When Art Becomes Attitude…” Curator’s words of Sparkle! Art for the Future, Vivian Ting, 2013

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