PV Monday 10 June, 7-11pm, to coincide with Art Basel 2019.
Artist In-Conversation: Thursday 13 June 2019, 11am-12noon
“Look at your body—
A painted puppet, a poor toy
Of jointed parts ready to collapse,
A diseased and suffering thing
With a head full of false imaginings.”
– The Dhammapada
VITRINE, Basel presented a solo exhibition of work by Hong Kong-based artist Nadim Abbas.
Abbas’ work encompasses installation, photography, performance, and sculpture, incorporating references from the domestic and the everyday to explore how contemporary living conditions have produced particular psychological patterns, trends, and subcultures.
For ‘Poor Toy’, Abbas incorporated references from IKEA, modern horror, Edward Hopper and kodokushi, positioning the domestic space as a site of horror. Groupings of sculptures – produced from hacked flatpack furniture, cast concrete, and custom-made mattresses – were arranged as a supernatural domestic environment within VITRINE’s gallery space, which is sited on and visible from the public square.
The objects are “hacked,” with constructed materials or appendages attached to change their structure. Drawing heavily from the IKEA aesthetic that pervades homes around the world, the installation embodied the bland banality of this shared domestic language.
Alongside these sculptural arrangements, two vacuum-packed drawings were displayed throughout the space. These hybrid works on paper reference technical architectural drawings and floor plans, operating in conversation with the groupings of furniture.
Abbas’ work draws thematic inspiration from literature, science, and psychology. Weaving together historical and contemporary references from the horror genre, ‘Poor Toy’ pays homage to writers such as H. P. Lovecraft, whose short stories and novels frequently explore the domestic as a site for disturbing exchanges with supernatural forces.
Abbas’ rich and varied research is the driving force behind his making. Ultimately, though, the making process liberates the objects from the weight of these references, allowing the work to hold space and meaning independent of the research that inspired it.
Nadim Abbas (b. 1980, Hong Kong, China) received his BFA from London’s Chelsea College of Art & Design (2002) and MPhil from the University of Hong Kong Department of Comparative Literature (2006). He was awarded the Hyde Park Art Center Residency, Chicago, USA (2018); Osage Art Foundation and Fundaziun Nairs Hong Kong/Switzerland Cultural Exchange Project (2017); Asian Cultural Council Altius Fellowship; and the HK Arts Development Award (Young Artist / Visual Arts) in 2014. His site-specific public sculpture ‘P-SCAPE’ was commissioned at Tai Kwun Prison Yard, Hong Kong (2018).
He has been exhibited internationally at galleries, institutions, biennales and fairs including: 12th Shanghai Biennale 2018, CN; 7th Moscow International Biennale of Contemporary Art 2017; Munich Biennale 2018, DE; Triennial 2015: Surround Audience, New Museum, New York, US; Busan Biennale 2014, Busan, KOR; Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, NL; NRW Forum, Düsseldorf, DE; HK Arts Centre, HK; UCCA, Beijing, CN; Fundaziun Nairs, Engiadina, CH; Milieu, Bern, CH; Last Tango, Zurich, CH; Antenna Space, Shanghai, CN; VITRINE, London, UK; Wilkinson Gallery, London, UK: inCube Arts, New York; The Armory Show, Armory Focus: China, New York, US; ARTHK11 Special Projects, Hong Kong, CN; and Absolut at Art Basel Hong Kong 2014, Hong Kong, CN.
Abbas was included in Omar Kholeif’s recent publication ‘The Artists Who Will Change the World’ (2018, published by Thames and Hudson).
‘Poor Toy’ is generously supported by Carhartt WIP.