(081) Wong Ping
'Urban Theater: A Comedy in Four Acts', Group Exhibition
UCCA Edge, Shanghai, China, [01.05.21 - 01.05.22]
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Flashing, pop-like imagery; visual and auditory narrations that explicitly touch upon sex, politics and social relations; vibrant installations that extend into three dimensions the artist’s fantastical animation world – these are but cornerstones of Wong Ping’s (b. 1984, Hong Kong) practice that combines the crass and the colourful to mount a discourse around repressed sexuality, personal sentiments and political limitations. Hong Kong born and raised, Wong Ping discusses his observations of society, from teenage to adulthood, using a visual language that sits on the border of shocking and amusing. Edouard Malingue Gallery is pleased to present ‘Who’s the Daddy’, Wong Ping’s second solo show in Hong Kong, featuring his new animation works which explores the trials and tribulations of parenthood. In addition to the central animation, after which the exhibition is titled, ‘Who’s the Daddy’ features a second video presented on a notebook, as well as several sculpture works, extending the artist’s visual world throughout the gallery space, immersing the viewer in his challenging fictional sequence.
Despite drawing its name and inspiration from a popular Chinese nursery rhyme, the playful imagery and comically-illustrated characters in ‘Who’s the Daddy’ (2017) depict scenes with a much darker undertone than an initial glance might suggest. Introducing the tale of a disgraceful man who has unexpectedly stumbled across the path of child-rearing, Wong Ping’s characteristically neon hues and explicit style explore the challenges of fatherhood. The futility of political identity is addressed throughout the film beginning with the protagonist’s seemingly superficial comparison of sexuality to left/right-wing political dynamics. The viewer follows the man’s dating app trial as he attempts to evaluate potential partner’s political beliefs by analysing their profile photos. His eventual ‘match’ with a strictly religious woman, and their ensuing relationship, reveals the man’s shameful satisfaction with subjugation, a fetish that is further explored by a juxtaposition of references to his childhood memories. Through a combination of the man’s contemptible powerlessness and the woman’s tenuous religious beliefs, the protagonist ultimately takes on the merciless role of a single father.
Extending throughout the exhibition space are a series of three-dimensional elements, born from Wong Ping’s animated sequences. Segments of the films take the form of two sculptures, a hanging lightbox, a neon sign and two further 3D prints, bringing to physical life their characters and singular moments of their fictional lives. ‘M’ (2017), for example, illustrates a vicious scene from ‘Who’s the Daddy’ where the woman, in an unmother-like manner, pushes the protagonist onto the floor, piercing his left eye-ball using her stiletto heel with the intention of squashing shameful desire through punishment. The lightbox entitled ‘Mammy’ (2017) similarly addresses the film whilst focusing on the darker side of parenthood by presenting a confronting portrayal of traditional mother and child imagery, the baby hanging in her arms replete with dripping blood from the still-attached umbilical cord. The irrational nature of morality and the fragility of existence is further conveyed by the mother’s abortion of her foetuses, an act that seems both cruel as well as a form of atonement.
Running throughout Wong Ping’s animation work is the concept of control or limitation; introducing the poles of desire and obsession, ‘Who’s the Daddy’ presents acts, visions and scenarios that are brutally honest, or indeed, compose our personal, ‘evil’ shame. Ultimately though, Wong Ping’s animations are not meant to be discouraging. They are happy, in a darkly twisted yet realistic manner. Through their rawness, his works provide a sense of uncharacteristic comfort in that even our deepest and most private sentiments or acts are shared by others. In this way, Wong Ping’s work is liberating and perversely honest – a cathartic twist on the trials rooted in daily life.
Wong Ping is one of Hong Kong’s most exciting emerging artists. His animations have been commissioned by M+, NOWNESS as well as Prada and he has recently received one of Perspective’s ’40 under 40’ awards (2015) for his work. Moreover, Wong Ping recently presented a solo project in the NOVA Sector at Art Basel Miami Beach (2016), held a residency at the Chinese Centre for Contemporary Art (CFCCA) (2015) and has held exhibitions internationally in Manchester, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Berlin and Paris, amongst other locations. His animation films have been presented at numerous festivals internationally, form Belgium and the UK to Mexico and Australia, and have been reviewed in the New York Times, Wallpaper, LEAP, ArtAsiaPacific and other publications. Wong Ping’s work is held in several permanent collections including M+, Hong Kong.