Hold Sway

July 5 - 16, 2011

Yuk King Tan



As you might expect from its title, Yuk King Tan's exhibition Hold Sway alludes to systems networks, or institutions of global power, politics and opinion-making.

Collapse, a text-based wall work, was made in Hong Kong a year and a half ago. Seen in the geo-political context of that Asian financial hub at the height of the global banking crisis, the rippling insubstantial ephemerality of its gold leaf would have been chilling.

CollapseBullion however, is always alluring. And months on in Christchurch, its semiotics are still provocative. Here, there exists a state of siege physically and institutionally (the latter between banks, insurers, government, building and landowners) that has never felt so potent. Or, in the context of this Yuk King work, never looked so beautiful. The flicker of gold (from stasis to movement, between profundity and collapse, or from our present to the shimmering possibilities of the future) is tellingly, almost achingly beautiful.

black rocket (detail)red rocket (detail)Three painted rockets stand adjacent in the space. Ready for launch, we acknowledge the muscle of the military industrial complex. But the scale is playful and the tone celebratory. These rockets are not painted with any obvious nod to military might. They are adorned instead with forms that float and flow like clouds or underwater anemones; motifs that are both phallic and fecund, that speak of a decorative and democratic feminine, via pattern that hybridizes paisley with something more Asian.

drawing (detail)There is also and finally, a very convincing suite of smoke drawings. These have the quality of architectural blueprints - for a fantasy city perhaps, with their combination of schematic and hand-wrought mark-making, either printed directly on to the paper or scratched into the deep inky billows of black smoke. They teem with tiny human activity - a seething humanity busy within a linear scaffolding drawn sometimes in cross-section, and sometimes in an elegantly bulging and sinuous manner that has a wonderfully loopy Mobius sort of congruity about it.

Hold Sway is a thoughtful and beautiful gift to Christchurch. It is also wonderfully Yuk King - a heady mix of materiality, deftness of touch, and just a little bit of bling!


Selected works

Collapse - side view

Smoke Drawings - installation detail

Smoke drawing1 unfamed - detail

Smoke drawing2 unframed

Smoke drawing 2 - detail


Rockets - black, red & blue - installation views




List of Works

Smoke Drawings, 2011
smoke, ink and watercolour on paper

Collapse, 2011
wall work in metal alloy and 22K gold

Rockets, 2011
watercolour, card, plastic and wood