PABLO POSADA PERNIKOFF, 2015, Water Swirl, carved and etched soda glass, 30 cm diameter. Courtesy the artist and Sin Sin Fine Art, Hong Kong.


Pablo Posada Pernikoff & Wensen Qi

Sin Sin Fine Art
Hong Kong

Artists Pablo Posada Pernikoff and Vincent Cazeneuve (who goes by the name Wensen Qi) might hail from different walks of life, but they possess a unifying fascination with form and materiality that has led them to locales oceans away from their home countries. Originally a student of cabinet carpentry, marquetry and gilding, Qi fell in love with the traditional Chinese art of lacquer painting, and made the decision to leave France so that he could study the technique in China. Pernikoff, meanwhile, had an academic career in engineering and mathematics before making ventures in contemporary art, which include glass sculptures as well as metal and paper reliefs. The French-Colombian artist hails from Spain, and lived and worked in various countries, from Canada to Italy, before landing in Tokyo, Japan, where he developed an appreciation for the Japanese art of maki-e—pictures created with lacquer that is combined with gold or silver powder.

Pernikoff and Qi first met via a group show held at Hong Kong’s Sin Sin Fine Art in 2013, having worked with the gallery since 2005 and 2012, respectively. However, “Path” marked the first time for the the artists to come together for a duo presentation, which included some of their older works as well as new commissions for the show. While the artists did not communicate during their creation processes, gallery manager Heather Kong said that they agreed to adhere to the exhibition’s theme of exploring the transformative power of their respective mediums.

Sin Sin Fine Art is a tiny gallery tucked into a precariously steep side road in Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan district, sandwiched between fashionable eateries and mom-and-pop auto repair shops. The gallery space takes a similar hodgepodge approach: step inside to first find a display case of ceramics, then venture upstairs to see a veritable collection of curios—drawers of jewellery, racks of Cambodian apparel, and a Chinese-style table and chairs. These items—selected by the owner of the gallery, Sin Sin Man—are on permanent display and some are available for purchase. While interesting, the items distracted from the exhibition, leaving it with the vibe of a knick-knack shop or the air of a personal wardrobe.

Installation view of PABLO POSADA PERNIKOFF’s Winds and Clouds, 2013 and Cascada II, 2013, at “Path,” Sin Sin Fine Art, Hong Kong, 2017. Photo by Ryan Chiao for ArtAsiaPacific.
Installation view of PABLO POSADA PERNIKOFF’s Winds and Clouds, 2013 and Cascada II, 2013, at “Path,” Sin Sin Fine Art, Hong Kong, 2017. Photo by Ryan Chiao for ArtAsiaPacific.

The exhibition was confined to the 800-square-foot first floor of the gallery, with a single piece by Qi relegated upstairs. One might expect the two artists’ works to be integrated in a duo exhibition, but that was not the case at Sin Sin. Pernikoff’s narrow, large-scale reliefs of metal, mineral pigments, oxidations, and silver or gold leaf—Winds and Clouds and Cascada II (both 2013)—dominated the back wall. One of Qi’s new and untitled works—of Chinese lacquer, fabric, gold leaf and tin with cross symbols on an old rice bag—hovered above the reception desk. The rest of the works were clustered together based on which artist’s hands created them, and lined opposite walls, confronting each other.

WENSEN QI, Untitled, 2017, ramie fabric and gold leaf on old rice bag with Chinese lacquer applied with bodiless technique, 100 × 80 cm. Courtesy the artist and Sin Sin Fine Art, Hong Kong.

Strangely, the arrangement had a compelling effect that immediately prompted the viewer to venture inside and investigate further. Imperfection has no place in Pernikoff’s pieces. His small yet splendid glass sculptures and metal reliefs completely obfuscate the painstaking processes employed, leaving the viewer to contemplate the delicate, ethereal beauty of etched lines alongside gold and silver leaf inlay. Qi’s work, conversely, possesses a rawness that brings the viewer down to earth. There is no suggestion of elegant Chinese lacquerware here. Instead of fine wood, Qi applies lacquer paint to petrified old rice bags. The curved, asymmetrical shapes suggest churning concrete or clay. Both artists used gold in their new pieces, granting the entire collection a mirrored synchronization.

Each artist’s works are characterized by the transformation of mundane materials into something more. Sand is melted into glass, and abandoned boards and pieces of fabrics are intentionally, carefully layered to make new objects. If the exhibition’s aim was to prompt viewers to ask questions about the materials that make up the world, it provided two disparate avenues with which to do so.

Pablo Posada Pernikoff and Wensen Qi’s “Path” is on view at Sin Sin Fine Art, Hong Kong, until September 16, 2017.

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