Hilarie HON : The daily disappearance of the sun 韓幸霖《每日太陽恆常消失》
The daily disappearance of the sun
6 January - 10 February 2018
Opening: Saturday, 6 January 2018, 4 - 7 pm
The works in the exhibition represent both a continuation and a departure for the artist. They feature familiar elements of HON's highly personal style such as her palette of strong and often complementary colours or her use of irony. At the same time, however, they mark a step towards a more conceptual approach to art-making.
HON's latest work is motivated by her interest in other disciplines such as literature and cinema. Many of the paintings were inspired by a novel by Italian writer Luigi Pirandello. First published in 1904, "The Late Mattia Pascal" is an ironic reflection on freedom and identity. Pirandello tells the story of a man who attempts to escape his dreary life by assuming a new identity, only to discover that the freedom he hoped for remains elusive.
Not life itself is to blame for our unhappiness, the novel teaches us. Rather, it is our attitude towards life that leads to disappointment. We constantly project our expectations onto nature, hoping it will provide us with meaning and answers. But nature, as Pirandello writes at one point, "has not the remotest consciousness even that we exist.
Rather than referencing the book directly, the artist uses it as a starting point for her own reflections on freedom. A recurring motif in her paintings is the setting sun, a scene often associated with romantic feelings or the longing for freedom. To HON, these emotions are only projected. Accordingly, her sunsets are anything but romantic. The landscape is immersed in an unreal glow, the sun itself has a smiling face that seems to make fun of our expectations.
Her series "Daily Does the Sun Disappear" repeats the sunset motif over and over again but changes it from one painting to another, similar to the frames of a film reel. The canvases of different formats are arranged by descending size. Towards the end of the sequence, the paintings not only become smaller but also more crowded with near-abstract silhouettes of flying birds. As their numbers grow and the boundaries of the canvas are closing in, their freedom appears increasingly restricted.
Several other paintings show scenes related to cinema. In one we encounter a lone moviegoer sitting among empty seats in a dark theatre. Another presents a view from the auditorium towards the projection screen on which we see, of course, a setting sun. In the artist's view, both painting and cinema construct an alternative reality and perhaps even promise freedom, albeit a freedom limited to the confines of the screen or the canvas. In her paintings of cinemas showing sunset scenes, HON buries this freedom under different layers of reality, revealing it as distant and illusory.
As if to prove this point, the exhibition also includes an installation consisting of two cinema seats. They seem to offer an escape into a different life – only to disappoint with a view of nothing more than the gallery window.