Messes and Overcooked Soups

Grey projects

2017

As part of this year's exhibition program on the contemporary's recent past, Grey Projects is proud to present Messes and Overcooked Soups, a sequence of prints, drawings, ink paintings and sketchbooks completed by Chun Kai Qun in a three-year period in the 2000s.

These works were previously shown in a scattering of cafes and artist-run spaces, or have never been seen outside of a small circle of friends. Created while Kai Qun was in the midst of his NAFA studies and in his first years of artistic practice, they evidenced a close entwining of drawing and printmaking, as well as the full range of his current interests and preoccupations with musical performance, social outcasts, poster art and popular food culture. Rather than a chronological display, the galleries are arranged to emphasise the proximate relationship between his sketches and his prints. Kai Qun's fondness for dioramic presentations are presaged here in his smaller sketchbook, as well as in drawing-based prints such as Grass Cutter (2008), images that display its mise-en-scène from a wide-angled, drone's-eye view. These scenes are settings for Kai Qun's unique theatre, populated by dramatis personae that together form a lumpen crowd, including punks, beggars, cooks, restaurant mascots and feral children. The specific dramas might be uncertain, but the emotions, captured in the vibrato of his lines in the Ronnie and Buckethead set for example, are unquestionably heightened. 

The distinctive marks of Kai Qun's sculptural practice - the densification of materiality to its exhaustion, the preference for messiness and the intensifying of space into mood - are already present here in ways that puts into question our categorical separation of artistic production into 'student' and 'professional' work, or the practice of denoting 'emerging' with youth. Rather, this presentation demonstrates how these distinctive qualities emerge, if from anything at all, from the habits of drawing image and text. While Kai Qun has had a celebrated reception for his sculptural works, most recently seen in his presentation Solid Prayers at FOST Gallery, he is also capable of an emotive quietude, as seen in his watercolour and ink works. These, including The Blacklist, mostly executed in 2006, suggest a liquid spatiality that both contains and is ready for embodied movement, the way the stage or the filmic surface is ready for the dancer or the actress. With Kai Qun's crowded, messier compositions as counterpoints, these spaces become latencies, in the mode of becoming vibrational fields, with the potential to transform into excessive, chaotic, even truculent expanses.