(080) 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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Edouard Malingue Gallery (Hong Kong, Shanghai) was thrilled to launch its inaugural participation at Frieze London as part of the Focus section featuring celebrated emerging Hong Kong artist Wong Ping (b. 1984) presenting ‘Fables’, a single surreal animation in three parts exhibited within an immersive setting. On this occasion, Wong Ping was the recipient of the first Camden Arts Emerging Arts Prize at Frieze and will realise a major exhibition at Camden Arts Centre, London within the next 18 months. Garnering extensive critical attention, the booth reflected the cornerstones of Wong Ping’s practice that combines the crass and the colourful to mount a critically humorous discourse around repressed sexuality, personal sentiments and political limitations.
Flashing, pop-like imagery; visual and auditory narrations; installations that extend into three dimensions the artist’s fantastical animation world – these are elements of Wong Ping’s practice that express his observations of society, from childhood to adulthood, using a visual language that sits on the border of shocking and amusing. As described by Xiaoyu Weng, associate curator for Chinese art at the Guggenheim in light of Wong Ping’s recent group show ‘One Hand Clapping’ at the New York institution: “He acutely responds to his surroundings on a micro level but also speaks to the social and political reality” .
‘Fables’, in particular, comprises three back-to-back distinct animations, each of which presents, as the title suggests, a succinct fictional story with imaginary characters that communicates a ‘moral’ lesson. Unveiled for the first time at the 2018 New Museum Triennial as part of ‘Songs for Sabotage’, ‘Fables’ was cited as “one of the few pieces with obvious digital roots and with politics that feel as much existential as circumstantial” . Jumping between the tales of a Buddhist nun elephant, social-media-addicted chicken and insect-phobic tree, ‘Fables’ touch upon issues of appearance, love, digital interaction, narcissism and fear.
Despite the vibrant and illogical superposition of narrators and events, the films address toils that affect each of our contemporary daily lives. The delivery is met, however, by “a profound sense of social awkwardness” , an interaction that at once arouses intrigue and discomfort. Presented at Frieze as the central projection lighting up a dark immersive space, visitors are lured into an encounter, one that is met and further activated by a sequence of three-dimensional vignettes from the animation hung on either flanking wall.
Ultimately, ‘Fables’ is a vivid, cynical and cuttingly wry source of insight into societal behaviour. Through the fantastical foil, the works cumulatively provide a liberating rawness and urge 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 was awarded one of Perspective’s ’40 under 40’. His recent shows include, ‘One Hand Clapping’ at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and ‘Songs for Sabotage’ at New Museum, New York. Moreover, Wong held a residency at the Chinese Centre for Contemporary Art (CFCCA) 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, from Belgium and the UK to Mexico and Australia, and have been reviewed in LEAP, ArtAsiaPacific and other publications. Wong’s work is held in several permanent collections including M+, Hong Kong, KADIST, Paris/San Francisco, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Fosun Art Foundation, Shanghai, amongst others. In 2018, he was the recipient of the inaugural Camden Arts Emerging Arts Prize.
Camden Art Emerging Arts Prize at Frieze is a major new annual prize – launching for the first time at Frieze London 2018 – offering an emerging artist vital critical exposure through their first solo show at a London institution. The prize winner will be supported by the experienced Camden Arts Centre curatorial team, and the exhibition will be underpinned by an extensive programme of public talks and events.
 Xiaoyu Weng as quoted in “Hong Kong’s Youth Culture, Captured in Disturbing Animations” by Barbara Pollack, The New York Times, May 18 2018
 “New Museum Triennial Looks Great, but Plays It Safe” by Holland Cotter, The New York Times, February 22 2018
 “Hong Kong’s Youth Culture, Captured in Disturbing Animations” by Barbara Pollack, The New York Times, May 18 2018