Vancouver has one of the most culturally diverse populations of cities around the world with the asian population being one of the biggest. However, this isn’t well reflected in the art world and so I was pleased to discover the two exhibits on floor three at the Vancouver Art Gallery recently.
Howie Tsui‘s show, “The Retainers of Anarchy” moves right outside of appealing to the intellect. Instead it plays to your senses, stirring up emotions and grabbing you in the guts. His piece, Hei Gung Deviation, references the wooden training dummies used by martial artists in their training. The hollow, rhythmic echoing of the wood lulls you into a meditative reverie and transports you to a different time and place.
But the piece that must be seen is Tsui’s animated film. I have been to see this three times and each time is a different experience. The film is simple, yet completely engrossing. The imagery is sometimes disturbing and always captivating. It draws you into the compartmentalized life of several residents of an apartment building and then pans back to the outdoor scenes, all the while capturing your consciousness with the mesmerizing music.
“Pacific Crossings: Hong Kong Artists in Vancouver” was equally as impressive but draws more on the classic Chinese art traditions. Art as a meditative practice in the history of Chinese art comes through powerfully in the art of these Hong Kong artist who have practiced their art so far away from their country of origin.