Entering Duddell’s, a Cantonese restaurant based on the top two levels of Shanghai Tang Mansion in Hong Kong, is like being welcomed into the eccentric home of a reputable art collector.
Patrons get to sample dim sum or popular local dishes deemed worthy of two Michelin stars, while gazing at the new art exhibitions regularly featured on both levels.
“We don’t sell art directly to patrons, but we do introduce people to the galleries of participating curators”, Shormi Ahmed, head of art for Duddell’s, told FinanceAsia. “Level three displays 19th and 20th century Chinese ink and brush art from the M.K. Lau collection, while level four has contemporary shows.”
The 11th contemporary exhibition, running until June 21, features New York-born South Korean artist Margaret Lee in “Duddell’s x DMA: Concentrations HK”, curated by Gabriel Ritter from the Dallas (Texas) Museum of Art. It is the first overseas project of the series of “Concentrations” from the DMA, which provides a platform for international emerging and underrepresented artists.
Lee’s work includes an intriguing shower fixture with a porcelain sink with a bowl containing a white ceramic, halved Napa cabbage and an Asian eggplant, along with two painterly photographs that explore those images. She intends these works to suggest object and gesture as embodiments of desire.
“Asians have owned gesture for centuries, the history of calligraphy and ink, relating to the body/movement of the body,” Lee told FinanceAsia. “Is Asian gesture ever held to the same critical acclaim as western gesture - though the ideas behind, say apex, might not be so dissimilar to western gestural painting? I want to neutralise hierarchies”.
She noted that the art form of “abstract expressionism is often tied to masculinity”. The shower and sink in Lee’s exhibit echo Duchamp’s “Fountain”, which scandalised Paris in 1917. Yet Lee’s objects and the images suggest a fluidity of gender not present in art until more modern times.
Located on the staircase to the fourth floor, these works precede a series of drawings in the salon that echo the showerhead theme, drawn in the artist’s hotel room.
Meanwhile a number of Lee’s photographs are based in the library. These include a portrait of George Washington, a Judd chair and a mysterious building. Each echo Abstract Expressionism – but with a feminist twist.