Art Basel Hong Kong 2023 Encounter EN9
21 March - 25 March 2023
Hanart TZ Gallery
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Encounter: Inga Svala THÓRSDÓTTIR & WU Shanzhuan 吳山專 英格斯瓦拉托斯朵蒂爾

Encounter: EN9


Working together since the early 1990s, Inga Svala Thórsdóttir and Wu Shanzhuan’s partnership reflects a symbiotic, creative dialogue. Their individual practices merge to reflect one artist’s complexity and the other’s purity, with a polarity that is evident in this work. The wooden architecture offers the audience passage for activation. It is also a cosmic site for contemplation and intimacy. The artists invite you to move through the environment to experience it from alternative perspectives, both introspectively and alongside the pauses and transits of others. Questioning the very nature of being, the duo offers a sacred space for worship, or a place of meeting to reflect and breathe – inward and outward.

Inga Svala Thorsdottir & Wu Shanzhuan in 2018

Inga Svala Thorsdottir & Wu Shanzhuan in 2018

Inga Svala Thórsdóttir & Wu Shanzhuan 吳山專 與 英格ㆍ斯瓦拉ㆍ托斯朵蒂爾 Constellation Forest《拱林》 2018 American Pine, Larch, Hemlock and White Pine 美洲松、鐵杉、白松、落葉松 Approx. 330 x 900 x 500 cm

Constellation Forest is a series of arches constructed by the principle of “the perfect bracket” and “little fat flesh”, geometric forms the artists invented as a homage to Plato. But their geometry refers to impossible forms that can only belong to transcendent metaphysical spaces. Wu claims: “The very fact that thought has to produce visible evidence spells out its tragedy, for truth has been murdered by its medium.” Here lies the irony for the visual artist, whose very task should be the ideal Platonic form. It is from this ironic position Inga and Wu launch their radical critique of modernity, which includes the artwork “Things’ Rights” that subverts the 30 Articles of “Human Rights” by expanding these principles from humans to all “things”, and exposes with humour the anthropocentric prejudice of the Enlightened modern man. The arches of the “Constellation Forest” invite the visitor to stand under a space where he or she may speculate upon the task of art-making as world-creation.

The radicality of their approach to art-making is impressive, which perhaps reflects the context of their backgrounds. For Inga whose home is Iceland, one speculates on the utopic constitution of Iceland’s geography and its intimate society. For Wu whose home is Zhoushan Island near Shanghai, one cannot but be reminded of the radical experimentation of Mao’s politics. Wu grew up in the turbulent years of the Cultural Revolution when an adolescent believed every aspect of the social world could be challenged and the human being transformed.

Inga Svala Thórsdóttir was born in Iceland in 1966. She graduated in 1991 from the Painting Department of the Icelandic School of Arts and Crafts, and in 1995 from the Hochschule für bildende Künste in Hamburg. In 1993 she founded “Thor’s Daughter’s Pulverization Service”, and in 1999 she founded “BORG”. Wu Shanzhuan was born in China in 1960. He graduated from the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts in 1986, and in 1995 from the Hochschule für bildende Künste in Hamburg. In 1985 he founded “Red Humour”, and in 1990 he founded “Red Humour International”. Since 1991 Thórsdóttir and Wu have been working and exhibiting collaboratively. They live and work in Hamburg, Shanghai and Reykjavík.

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