APD | 2019 Hong Kong Artist Conversation — We create art and life


By APD writer Swan Lee

HONG KONG, May 22 (APD) - The art scene in Hong Kong is expanding rapidly. Curators and artists around the globe are looking for a stage on the Asian continent and what better place than Hong Kong, a vibrant city with a passion for art to exhibit some of their best works. Today we have a few guests here to have a conversation about modern art and what lies behind their works. They are artist Kimsooja from South Korea, Peter Buggenhout from Belgium as well as Boris Vervoordt, the director of Axel Vervoordt Gallery.

Boris Vervoordt created the Axel Vervoordt Gallery in 2011, and the gallery expanded to Asia with a space in Hong Kong in 2014. He mentioned that the new place of Wong Chuk Hang allowed artists to have more space to express themselves.

When talked about the relationship of him or rather the gallery with the artists, he said, “It is kind of like a marriage. You need strong commitment to decide to go for it. Committing yourself to a long-term relationship which starts out as a friendship but has to go beyond that. As a gallery, you work for the artists instead of the reverse. Actually, it is much worthy. It is for the artists, not for the clients. This relationship is special and unique.”

From left to right: reporter, Boris, Kimsooja and Peter.

When mentioning his experiences managing affairs in the gallery, Boris remarked, “We were much busier with the meaning of this and thinking why we do things rather than how we do things.” He added, “Also, I think if you want to be successful in whatever you do, you need to know why you are doing this. And if you do exercise and understand the reason why you do things, you will definitely learn more about yourself and become more successful.”

Kimsooja, a South Korean artist, shared the inspiration behind some of her works. She thinks that due to the geography, the influences of Chinese culture up north flowed south to Korea and that parts of the Korean culture had found its way across the sea to Japan as well.

“It is part of our culture.” She said. She mentioned that her works had been influenced by Confucius ideology and Taoism. “It is always interesting if you look at the multifaceted society that we have today. Taoism is connected to Buddhism which originated from India and came to the nation. But then we are also under much Christian influence. My work is very much influenced by the Confucius attitude, and then also some Shamanism. So our society has been based on multiple religious beliefs and philosophical backgrounds that interact with one another consistently. It is very impressive indeed.” She said. She thinks that the artists are the ones who see from their own perspective and creates interpretations of the world. “We transform different realities and integrate them with our own.” She added.

Infinite by Kimsooja

When asked about the feminist aspects of her work, she suggested that her work is very much feministic. However, she does not seems to be bothered by how people put labels on her work. “Some people try to categorize my work, but I always refuse to be group into that category (feminism), because my works are about totality, not for any specific ‘-ism’s. I always try to reach all races of humanity and incorporate globalism. So my work can be seen as a concept for multiculturalism. I think feminism can be too political sometimes. I find it a bit dangerous to be called that, it is very confining.” She expressed that her work is for the audience to understand, and that categorizing her work and putting labels on it can potentially restrict or even deprive the audience of their unique interpretation. “Now I am more open to being called any, because in the end, people will put together their own understanding. Of course, I respect and relate to feminism very much because we need that kind of secureness.”

Gorgo by Peter

When taking a first glance at Peter Buggenhout’s work, many might get the feeling of pure chaoticness. He himself even mentioned that his work “cannot be memorized because any singular reading would be incomplete”. When asked about this aspect of complexity in his work, Peter explained why his work always looks complicated. “I put things together, it is very different while you are looking at the pieces. The whole is more than the sum of its parts. There is a reason why I make this kind of work that cannot be easily memorized. It is because I try to express the complexity of the world around us, not only the nature and the urban cities, but also the intricate relationships between things, between you and me, between thoughts and objects. We as human always tend to simplify this complexion. We use anecdotes and invent mathematical equations, things of fundamental simplicity to organize and get a grasp of the world around us.

Peter also made some remarks about the changes in his work throughout 30 years. “I really adore romance, all of these works express that basic idea. For example, the artworks like the one made of dust, powder on top of all kinds of material, the same way you look at Gorgo, people might have a different interpretation. The changes in these years might have been the approaches. And every day I try to find another way to talk about the same idea.”