TAK­ING ART AT ITS WORD

Mem­bers of The Rac­ing Club re­cently rel­ished a pri­vate tour of an in­ter­na­tional ex­hi­bi­tion on the fas­ci­nat­ing in­ter­play be­tween lit­er­ate and vis­ual ex­pres­sion

Prestige Hong Kong - - AGENDA | ART -

A THREE-DI­MEN­SIONAL ren­di­tion of one of the most pre­cious words in the English lan­guage – love – has be­come syn­ony­mous with the late Amer­i­can pop artist Robert In­di­ana. Ti­tled, not sur­pris­ingly, Love, the work com­prises four let­ters in dif­fer­ent colour vari­a­tions but al­ways in the Di­done type font, with the let­ter “o” slant­ing in­wards. It was un­veiled by the artist – who changed his sur­name to that of his na­tive state – in 1970 at the In­di­anapo­lis Mu­seum of Art. And in the five decades since, both sculp­tural and twodi­men­sional ver­sions have been con­tin­u­ously ex­hib­ited around the world. Just as with lux­ury watches, jew­ellery, haute cou­ture and gas­tron­omy, art is so much more fully en­joyed when more deeply un­der­stood. Although this can be achieved by in­di­vid­ual re­search, there’s noth­ing quite so sat­is­fy­ing as when lis­ten­ing to a de­scrip­tion by an en­thu­si­as­tic con­nois­seur – and that’s es­pe­cially the case with vis­ual art, which, like mu­sic, is of­ten open to in­di­vid­ual in­ter­pre­ta­tion. A case in point is the guided tour ar­ranged by The Rac­ing Club for its mem­bers dur­ing the re­cent Love Long: Robert In­di­ana and Asia ex­hi­bi­tion at the Asia So­ci­ety of Hong Kong Cen­tre in Ad­mi­ralty, which re­ally en­hanced my ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the 31 pieces on dis­play. For the ex­hi­bi­tion, cu­ra­tor Dr Mi­wako Tezuka posed fas­ci­nat­ing cul­tural com­par­isons by clev­erly jux­ta­pos­ing Love and other works by In­di­ana with pieces by eight Asian artists that also play with words. In fact, along with other Rac­ing Club mem­bers, I learned how words them­selves can in­spire vis­ual artists such as In­di­ana. I also dis­cov­ered that the Love sculp­tures – in­clud­ing the Span­ish-lan­guage ver­sion, called of course, Amor – were made of Cor-Ten steel, a me­tal more ru­s­tand weather-proof than most. I found some pieces in the show far more fluid or cur­sive in their style of ex­e­cu­tion, and a few works de­lib­er­ately asked the viewer to take time to de­code the word that was writ­ten. This was in stark con­trast to the im­me­di­ately read­able let­ter­ing that typ­i­fies those by In­di­ana and sev­eral other artists. Words as art not only made for an in­trigu­ing ex­hi­bi­tion, but also served as the spark for a few dis­cus­sions among the other mem­bers of The Rac­ing Club who formed our small group – on the power of the writ­ten form across fine art, graph­ics and ev­ery­day life in our dig­i­tal age.

ROBERT IN­DI­ANA, THE GREAT LOVE (WHITE/RED/BLUE, 2008), THE GREAT LOVE (RED/BLUE/GREEN, 2008), THE FOUR DI­A­MOND PING (YEL­LOW/RED/BLACK, 2002), LOVE (1966/1998) LEFT: A RAC­ING CLUB MEM­BER AND GUEST EN­JOY A TOUR OF LOVE LONG

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