Inside the White Cube
31 May – 9 September 2023
Curated by Tingting Zhao and Evonne Jiawei Yuan
White Cube Hong Kong is pleased to present ‘New Moroism’, a group exhibition which brings together four artists who seek to expand the parameters and ideation of figuration in painting characterised by certain hazy conditions or blurred visions.
Part of an emerging generation of artists whose roots are in Asia, Michael Ho, Chris Huen Sin Kan, Timothy Lai and Su Yu-Xin reflect a new approach and sensibility, responsive to trans-regional shifts and migration. Embracing the concept of ambiguity within their paintings, the artists each explore a new form of Moroism, an aesthetic paradigm which is derived from the ‘mōrōtai’ style (mōrō literally translated as ‘vague’ or ‘indistinct’) that emerged in Japan of the late Meiji era (1868–1912), also found as a pictorial intention originating in traditional Chinese painting theory.
Determined by the artists’ shared East Asian heritage, the works in this exhibition are grounded in personal narrative. Chris Huen Sin Kan’s large-scale oil paintings, a constellation of brush marks, often featuring a recurring cast of characters including his wife, son, daughter and dogs, evolve organically and haphazardly. Painted directly from memory, the artist places life’s fleeting moments at the core of his work. Huen’s technique, imbued with the hallmarks of traditional Chinese ink painting, involves layering the paint stroke by stroke until a pattern emerges which echoes the spirit of the scene.
Incorporating a palette of gradated skin tones and elongated, distorted brushstrokes, Timothy Lai examines the uncertainty and tension of his pan-Asian identity and considers the increasingly complex interplay between nationality and race within today’s global society. Like actors on a stage, Lai positions and contorts his figures within undulating architectural spaces, exploring the intimacy and tension of familial dynamics, interracial love and bi-racial identity.
Su Yu-Xin’s dynamic landscape paintings are a testament to her meticulous practice. Inspired by the traditional ‘boneless’ method of Chinese brush painting, the artist creates her own hand-made pigments from collected natural materials, which she applies to the surface in layered washes to construct nebulous, multi-perspective horizons.
Employing a similarly rigorous process, Michael Ho adopts a unique painting technique which involves pushing paint from the back of the canvas and superimposing images on the front. A second-generation Chinese immigrant, this method serves as a parallel to Ho’s quest for duality and acculturation.
Informed by the artists’ individual experiences, ‘New Moroism’ is unified by a shared state of indeterminacy, reflecting the complex and rapidly accelerating nature of our global reality. This exhibition is part of the ongoing ‘Inside the White Cube’ series, which profiles artists at the forefront of global developments in contemporary art who have not previously exhibited with the gallery.
Michael Ho (b.1991, The Netherlands) is a multi-disciplinary artist, predominantly working with painting and film. He received his Diploma from the Architectural Association, London, in 2019. He lives and works in London.
Chris Huen Sin Kan (b.1991, Hong Kong). He obtained a BA in Fine Arts at The Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2013. He lives and works in London.
Timothy Lai (b.1987, Malaysia) He received his BA in Communication from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2009, and his MFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2017. He lives and works in Providence, Rhode Island.
Su Yu-Xin (b.1991, Taiwan) obtained a BFA in Chinese Painting from Taipei National University of The Arts in 2013, and an MFA in Painting from the Slade School of Fine Art, London, in 2016. She now lives and works in Los Angeles, California.
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