EX: 1/30/2012
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Para/Site art space
2015.12.11 Fri - 2016.03.06 Sun
Opening Exhibition
22/F Wing Wah Industrial Building, 677 King’s Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong, China
+852 2517 4620
Opening Hours
每周三至周日 Wed-Sun 12:00-19:00

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Para Site presents post-war art in strokes & gestures by RobertMotherwell, Bruce Nauman, Tomie Ohtake & Tang Chang
[Press Release]

Para Site is pleased to present The world is our home. A poem on abstraction, featuring worksby Robert Motherwell, Bruce Nauman, Tomie Ohtake, and Tang Chang. The world is ourhome is part of Para Site’s series of ground-breaking exhibitions employing a speculativeapproach to the art histories that need to be written around our regions. The exhibition takesas its point of departure a moment in the abstract movement of the post-war era, whendominant international vocabularies became entangled with traditional Asian painting in thework of a few artists, working independently and in disparate contexts. The show gathers asmall but consistent body of works by three such abstract painters, active outside of EastAsia, whose experimental practices incorporated artistic traditions of this region. Thejuxtaposition of the artists bring into light similarities at the formal level as well asdistinctiveness in their appropriations of ink painting and calligraphy, but also connectionsbetween their post-war contexts, and personal and political implications of their works. Theexhibition also brings into question the different levels of marginality operated by arthistorical narratives and the construction of national and international cannons.


The biography and contribution to abstraction of Tomie Ohtake (b. 1913, Kyoto – d. 2015,Sao Paolo), can be discussed in relation to a key generation of Japanese-Brazilian artists whowere leading representatives of abstraction in Brazil’s art history while remaining unique anddistinct from it. She arrived there in 1936 from Japan, and remained when World War IIerupted. Ohtake’s paintings often embody a calligraphic action. Precise, deep, and oftenforceful traces of ink and paint introduce a sensuality of pictorial depth and open a discussionabout spirituality. Ohtake’s images can be inscribed in a humanistic symbolism borrowedfrom Zen Buddhism. Her own relationship with signs, objects, and interiority was very muchconnected to this cultural milieu. As she once stated: “A picture is not a thing, but amovement, it could be before, it could be after.”

Tang Chang (b. 1934, Bangkok – d. 1990, Bangkok) is recognised as an important figure ofThai modern art, while not fully integrated in the national cannon, perhaps due to his Chinesedescent and his explicit embracing of his origins. His prolific body of work ranges frominformal gestural abstract painting to expressionist portraiture, as well as extensive poetry-drawing. The clear recognition of calligraphy in the materiality of his large-scale canvasestranslates a gesture of violence and angst. His work is marked by the years following anti-Chinese violence and the poetry-drawings should be read on the background of the 1970sstudent uprisings and crackdown by the military regime. In this context, informed bynationalism and a conservative outlook in artistic production, Tang Chang’s paintings weredouble outcasts, for being too international abstract and for being too Chinese.

Robert Motherwell (b. 1915, Aberdeen, Washington, U.S.A. – d. 1991, Provincetown,Massachusetts, U.S.A.), the prominent American abstract painter, often appropriated formsand gestures found in Chinese and Japanese painting, while being a collector of traditional artand textbooks from East Asia. Rather than an orientalist infatuation, his obsession with thickstrokes and gestures grew over the decades into a unique epistemology of form. Followingthese developments, a recurrent subject he titled Elegy to the Spanish Republic resurfaced as anever-ending series of paintings which historiography has read as Motherwell’s form ofprotest against the perseverance of fascism.

The exhibition also presents Bruce Nauman’s (b. 1941) video-performance Dance or Exercise on the Perimeter of a Square (Square Dance), 1967–1968. Shown as an anomaly amongst the pinacothèque display, Nauman’s choreography along the limitations of a given area translates, through movement and immateriality, concepts of time, space, and matter found in the works of Motherwell, Ohtake, and Tang.

The title of the exhibition comes from a slogan employed by the hundreds of Chinese serving on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, a contingent which played a small but important part in the international brigades fighting Franco’s Fascists. The sentence translates the personal sentiment of solidarity and identification with the context and struggles of others. Having actively painted throughout the 20th century in diverse corners of the world, and entered different cannons, these three artists felt entitled to appropriate pictorial languages that transcended national identities, entangling cultural genealogies in their search for an appropriate language for their times.