The Walker Art Center presents Lee Kit: Hold your breath, dance slowly, the first US solo museum presentation of Hong Kong artist Lee Kit on view May 12–October 9, 2016 in the Burnet Gallery. The exhibition comprises recent work by Lee Kit and features the ambitious 13-channel video installation I can’t help falling in love (2012), recently acquired by the Walker, alongside a newly commissioned site-specific installation.
Lee Kit quietly explores his surroundings by investigating ideas of time, memory, and place. Known for his sparse yet intimate installations, Lee often makes his works directly on site—as he will in the Walker’s galleries—intuitively creating his environments. The elements within his spaces include paintings, sculptures, video projections, and found objects, among other media, which Lee meticulously arranges, considering the exhibition space as one would a painterly composition. The personal and domestic objects he includes function as emotive and sensory triggers, often subtly suggesting a narrative from a fleeting past—as if a person has recently left the space—and evoking a sense of longing associated with that departure.
Lee Kit (born Hong Kong, 1978) received shortlist nomination for the 2013 Hugo Boss Asia Art Award and represented Hong Kong in the 2013 Venice Biennale. Lee began his career as a painter, hand-painting found fabrics with acrylic stripes, plaids, and song lyrics in soft hues of pink and blue. He has used these painted cloths as picnic blankets, towels, window curtains, and even tablecloths (on which he has served food and drink)allowing them to collect stains and other marks of wear, and to acquire new memories through their everyday use. Lee often combines these cloth paintings alongside “readymade” objects such as furniture or altered household items to create carefully arranged domestic settings. In these room-sized installations, the artist often includes his paintings of logos from
personal care products (such as Johnson & Johnson and Nivea) painted in watery acrylic washes on cardboard.
Although his sculptural gestures are highly personal, even poetic, Lee’s work is not sentimental. In their use of everyday materials, brand names, and ordinary objects, his installations confront systems of production and consumption, responding to his feelings of oversaturation from the economic growth and capitalist tenor of Hong Kong. His use of foreign products and English words in his work reference both market capitalism and Hong Kong’s socio-political history, and suggests the rising power of the commodity in mainland China. His video works and performances often feature monotonous rituals and banal gestures as manifestations of his frustration with the current socio-political climate of his homeland. Lee has stated, “We are products too. I think this is a time to enhance individual practice, to change something within our daily lives.”
In May 2016, the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.) in Ghent, Belgium will present Lee’s first solo museum exhibition in Europe accompanied by a catalogue with essays written by an international roster of critics and scholars. The book will include an interview with Lee by Walker exhibition curator Misa Jeffereis along with artist contributions and texts by Martin Germann (Senior Curator, S.M.A.K.), Philippe Van Cauteren (Artistic Director, S.M.A.K.), and Anthony Yung (Project Manager of China research projects, Asia Art Archive). The Walker Art Center will distribute the catalogue through its Shop and website.
Lee Kit: Hold your breath, dance slowly is part of an ongoing series of exhibitions at the Walker Art Center that explores the works of emerging artists from around the globe and gives artists their first major solo museum exposure. Recent exhibitions in this series include solo presentations of German artist Andrea Büttner and American artist Liz Deschenes.
Exhibition curator: Misa Jeffereis