JEREMY EVERETT, “Film Still (Lightbox),” 2013, silver-gelatin print on mylar, 131 × 99 cm. Courtesy Edouard Malingue Gallery, Hong King. 

Invisible Light

Edouard Malingue Gallery
Hong Kong

The warmth, ephemerality and indescribable nature of light, both as a concept and physical element has long been integral to artistic pursuits. Impressionists were enraptured by the ability of light to represent the passage of time, illuminate darkness and signal birth. It continues to be a focus in modern-day exhibitions, including Guggenheim Abu Dhabi’s “Seeing Through Light,” which, in the institution’s own words, explored light’s “diverse meaning and associations from the physical to the intellectual and from the spiritual to the scientific.”

“Invisible Light,” at Edouard Malingue Gallery’s new space in Hong Kong, is another exploration of such ideas, ambitiously drawing together five artists from Hong Kong, Istanbul, Paris and New York, whose works contemplate both the literal and metaphorical properties and associations of light. The works in the exhibit each evoke and manipulate light in various ways, presenting a diverse array of material expressions.

It seems only fitting that light, and its association with new beginnings, served as the underlying concept for the inaugural exhibition of Edouard Malingue’s new venue. Designed by Beau Architects, the space boasts an exposed concrete ceiling, metallic floor and lightweight walls that snugly encase the L-shaped gallery. Certain layout and curatorial choices have made the exhibition seem bare, but, ultimately, the simplicity of the space has enabled individual artworks to “shine.”

KO SIN TUNG, “Collecting Light,” 2014, acrylic, archival inkjet print on canvas, dimensions variable. Courtesy Edouard Malingue Gallery, Hong Kong. 

Delivering the most literal depiction of such radiant presence is Hong Kong artist Ko Sin Tung. Dominating the first wall of the gallery is the “Collecting Light” series (2014), a series of painted, archival inkjet prints depicting closely cropped online images of windows, enlarged to the point of pixelation. In discussing her work, Ko says, “If the purpose of a window is to bring more light into a space, then I wish to take on the role of a window.” She accomplishes this feat by applying white paint on the prints and manipulating its images of pixelated light, accentuating the luminescence that was subdued by the printing process. Hung in a deliberately haphazard formation, the prints evoke the familiar facade of urban, close-quartered residential buildings, highlighting the sense of alienation that often pervades inhabitants of such dwellings.

NURI KUZUCAN, “Reconstruction,” 2014, acrylic on canvas, 190 × 180 cm. Courtesy Edouard Malingue Gallery, Hong Kong. 

ERIC BAUDART, Scotch, 2013, photograph printed on tracing paper laid on alveolar plastic, 165 × 120 × 4 cm. Courtesy Edouard Malingue Gallery, Hong Kong. 

In another series of works, five prints from Ko’s “Modern Home Collection” series (2013) are set on a white, fluffy carpet. Enlarged and framed, online images of silver, household ornaments rest against a gallery wall. These pixelated images of domestic paraphernalia, in their ambiguity, encourage viewers to reassess the arbitrary importance that they have bestowed on similar possessions of their own.

American artist Jeremy Everett takes a more physical approach to the exhibition’s concept of “invisible light.” Everett, whose works are known for exploring the interface between beauty and decay, experiments innovatively using light as the central tool of his creations. Beguiling canvas panels of silver, gold and black hues comprise his “Film Still” series (2013). The panels are produced by spreading gelatin-silver emulsion on mylar and then exposing them to light, which reveals light’s potential as a source of physical transformation.

Turkish artist Nuri Kuzucan’s similarly monochromatic paintings are displayed in the predominantly black-and-white alcove of the gallery. Geometric compositions, such as Reconstruction (2014), present themselves as mazes of converging and diverging lines resembling an unsolvable Tetris formation, or an X-ray image of a high-rise building. Symbolizing architecture’s complex relationship with light, these works—as touted by the exhibition—portray the “intricate overlap and fragmented dimensionalities of our cosmopolitan edifices.”

Breaking from such monochromatic tones, and hence drawing the most aesthetic interest in the exhibition, is French artist Eric Baudart’s Scotch (2013), a scanned photograph of a roll of adhesive tape, printed on tracing paper and laid on plastic. Its playful, soft-pink palette distinguishes the work in its unexpected beauty.

Light’s ability to aid the discovery of beauty within the mundane is reinforced in Baudart’s video works, Caresse-moi (2007) and Black Hole (2008), which are mounted side by side at the gallery. The former depicts the luminous form of a floating jellyfish, while the latter depicts water flowing endlessly. Capturing the refraction of the sun’s rays as they hit the water, the two video works, in their addictive visual intrigue, conjure up a lulling experience for viewers that is hard to break away from.

“Invisible Light,” in its untraditional menagerie of mediums and approaches, distinguishes itself from other similar exhibitions that have sought to explore the theme of light. Much like its title suggests, the literal and metaphorical purpose of light is generally “invisible”—an intangible phenomenon at the end of the spectrum that we, as humans, are often blind to.


“Invisible Light” is on display at Edouard Malingue Gallery, Hong Kong, until March 7, 2015.