4 July–16 October, 2020

Alchemist(s)

Featuring works by Alan Kwan, Ni Zhiqi, Peter Peri, Thukral&Tagra, and Sara Tse

Hong Kong

Overview

Pearl Lam Galleries is delighted to present Alchemist(s), a group exhibition featuring six artists, including Alan Kwan (b.1990), Ni Zhiqi (b.1957), Peter Peri (b. 1971), Thukral&Tagra (b. 1976 & b. 1979), and Sara Tse (b.1974).

As an ancient branch of natural philosophy and proto-scientific tradition, alchemy has always been perceived as a form of pseudoscience with more than 2,500 years of history. It originated in Egypt and was practiced throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia before it was discredited as a worthy intellectual endeavour with the emergence of modern science. Alchemist(s) examines the intuitive potential of art. In particular, this group exhibition highlights the migration of art forms from one state to another. On view is a wide variety of artworks ranging from painting, sculpture, video, installation, and virtual reality. The juxtaposition of artworks is intended to consummate an experience of metaphysical transformation collectively, and in doing so it exposes the object’s indeterminate physical characteristics as ones of simultaneous strength and vulnerability. Hence. the objects on view function as psychoactive vehicles for viewers to pay closer attention to their hearts and souls and the contradictions of human fate.

Similar to contemporary artists, alchemists spent years in their laboratories/studios, conducting experiments through trial and error on the appearance of materials in non-qualitative ways. The Emerald Tablet, the foundational Egyptian-Greek text of Hermetic tradition, revealed that the secret of alchemy laid with its transmutation between infinite scope and physical manifestation. Believing that all creatures are made equal by first matter or “prima materia”, alchemy advocates a holistic vision to achieve a trinity of body, soul, and spirit. Alchemists dedicated their whole lives towards purifying materials in the hope of elevating it to a higher form. They blurred the distinction between inner and outer worlds, yet they remained faithful to the search for spiritual resonance relative to the meaning of our existence.

Bearing similar ideals, the artists in this exhibition all delve into their subconscious and question our reliance on conventional belief systems and institutional structures to give us meaning. Introspective in their approach, they use different strategies to recuperate different kinds of losses, be it of memories, identities, or a sense placed within a deep personal conviction. What began as a hunch or an intuition from experimenting with materials subsequently became a catalyst for developing a corpus of artworks. Suspicious of the formal language of Western modernism, these artists opt for processes of making that are largely instinctive, natural, and faithful—like extracting a panacea from the cosmic realm in order to prompt us with a prophetic vision of a new future.

Selected works