"Screaming Books" – Halley Cheng, Hung Keung, Peng Jian and 5 Additional Artists




“Screaming Books” inaugurates Galerie Ora-Ora’s new space in the H Queen’s building. This literature-themed group exhibition features eight contemporary Chinese and Hong Kong artists—Halley Cheng, Hung Keung, Peng Jian, Pang Wei, Xiao Xu, Xu Lei, Zhang Yanzi together with an iconic calligraphy graffiti work by Tsang Tsou-Choi, the “King of Kowloon”—who incorporated literary influences throughout their practice. Xu Lei and his students Hao Liang and Xiao Xu may be seen as an embodiment of the contemporary literati. Taking Xiao Xu as an example, his artistic practice bears the influences of Franz Kafka’s oeuvre as well as the magic realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Peng Jian, Peng Wei and Zhang Yanzi find inspiration in the literary language and imagery of the past in order to reinvent with modern interpretations. Peng Wei delves into the correspondence of artists of the past, pairing their words with her image: this union creates new levels of awareness and understanding. Peng Jian’s towers of books form the landscape architecture of a library while Zhang Yanzi’s Tianwang Buxin Dan references a traditional medical recipe. Finally, there are the experimental innovators who seek to turbocharge the power of books to spread ideas. One such disruptor is Hong Kong artist Hung Keung, who has used the form of a video forum to explore the solitary nature of reading, creating an apparent psychological dichotomy. Another example is Tsang Tsou Choi, a fabled street artist in Hong Kong who was a challenger to social order: seen as a relentless, committed synthesiser using art and words to spread ideas. The exhibition’s title partly originates from Russian artist Alexander Rodchenko’s  (b. 1891–1956) poster of a Russian writer and socialite Lilya Brik screaming “Books!”, a cry of union between art and words. The works reflect the ongoing relationship between literature and visual art in Chinese modern history, which at times has been harmonious, at times fraught with tension.

March 1, 2018