Art Basel Hong Kong 2021: Unlimited
Ora-Ora is pleased to present Unlimited, a group exhibition by contemporary artists Mai Miyake, Zhang Yanzi, Huang Dan, Peng Jian, Xiao Xu and Juri Markkula. The exhibition, on view at Booth 1D21 at Art Basel Hong Kong from 19 May to 23 May accents the power and value of now, and rejects the siren allure of past and future.
Recent events globally have separated families and forced a planet into more solitude, reflection and isolation than would have seemed imaginable. A time of accepting new realities, limitations and constraints is now gradually giving way to one of increased freedom, joys and possibilities. This is the global moment of now-ness, and of the unlimited.
In so doing, we sing in unison with our ancestors: 來世不可待，往世不可追也 (“Don't chase the past. Don't chase the future either”). The words of Warring States philosopher Zhuangzi in his Ren Jian Shi came amid strife, conflict and starvation. The urgent message of life's precariousness and fragility served both as a chilling necessity and a practically applicable philosophy. Elsewhere in his writings, Zhuangzi was to advocate spontaneity, and a willingness to escape the confines of societal norms, pre-assigned roles and pre-determined values. In so doing, a distance and perspective is achieved, which reveals deeper, more universal meanings. What could be more current than a personal quest for self-fulfilment, understanding and joy in the midst of division, uncertainty and doubt?
Zhuangzi was writing three centuries before Roman poet Horace urged us to “seize the day,” and 22 centuries before Soren Kierkegaard warned of the dangers of being “absent,” living either too much in hope or in memory. The exhortation is clear: the now is the only means of defence against the malevolent armies of other points in time.
In 2021, our artists will clear their minds of the enemies of hope/fear and memory/regret, creating art which fights for the now, redolent of the spontaneous joy and positivity of living in the moment. Being here now is no kind of easy ride – visitors to Ora-Ora will be called upon to be present, to sidestep the twin temporal poles which are the dominant reference and orientation points of our lives. A gentle setting aside of remorse and a calming release from dread premonitions is only a precursor to the rigours and demands of forming a solid now. What happens to a visitor whose mind is a tabula rasa, shorn of the stultifying limitations and imagined obstacles of the previous self? What new possibilities will be unlocked?
Embracing this theme, Ora-Ora is delighted to present Mai Miyake’s work for the first time in our booth at Art Basel Hong Kong. Her new series of scrolls melds the ancient and the modern, the classical and the contemporary, human-made and elemental, to form a concept which is of all times and just one: the now. Exploring those friction points where the Japanese fantastical and allegorical make contact with everyday norms, she forms new imagined realities which are anchored in glass, wood and stone. Her love of collage and of combinations situates her as an artist devoted to eschewing limitation.
Zhang Yanzi is an artist who has long been interpreting human fragility and harnessing bold, practical materials to forge unbreakable bonds between wellness and artistic expression. At Art Basel Hong Kong in 2021, she will be showcasing her mask series for the first time. Born of the strictures of her locked down experience in New York, they give voice to the mind and emotions that ran free, unfettered and uncontained. Drawing on diary entries and personal experiences over months of isolation, her masks draw riotous links between contemporary events, personal and shared emotions, and the human condition.
Our six leading artists all share a commitment to exploring life and art at its fullest. At Art Basel in Hong Kong in 2021, they will assume full responsibility for guiding the rediscovery of the now, building a fortified bulwark hewn into the frontier between recollections and dreams. Revelling in the sensory delight of what it means to be alive, and to be present, visitors to Ora-Ora’s booth will themselves be unlimited.