Flowers Gallery is pleased to announce Lau Hiu Tung’s first solo exhibition with Flowers Gallery, Hong Kong. The title I am in training, don’t kiss me is borrowed from the iconic 1927 self-portrait by French surrealist photographer Claude Cahun, an artist known for subverting normative conceptions of gender and sexuality.
During the exhibition, the gallery space functions as a ‘gymnasium’, where the artist presents her gym-inspired practices. Through painting, sculpture and performance, Lau explores the subject matter of the body and identity in association with the culture of the modern gym.
The word 'gymnasium’ derives from the ancient Greek word ‘gymos’, meaning naked. Drawing on Mark Greif’s understanding of the gym in his book Against Everything, Lau considers the modern-day gym as a “voluntary hospital,” highlighting its role in facilitating obsessive representations of the body and its significance as a social and therapeutic space.
Lau says, "Through exercise I find a deeper connection with myself and my body. It is in the pain and hurt I find my own voice, and I get to respond with paint and other materials."
Found objects and terms used in the gym are all part of Lau’s inspiration. Titled after the workout acronym which suggest an action happening “every minute on the minute,” the performance EMOM (2022) consists of a performer working on his muscles in front of the mirror and running up and down a slope in 60 seconds.
Wall of Isolation Exercises (2022) is a wall-mounted arrangement of small paintings and assemblages. In Lau’s paintings, simple shapes and colours carry layers of desire and complexity. Her canvases evoke sensual emotions, just as the titles of works are often poetic and metaphorical, unfolding a series of short and provocative stories. Midnight Love (2022), a painting inspired by the scenery of a midnight hike, is composed with scores of orange dots - a departure from Lau’s usual painterly approach, which is often characterised by minimal, expressive lines and shapes. These marks suggest flickering stars amidst the dark and quiet landscape, which, on closer inspection, reveals the shape of a body.
The exhibition extends into the back alley, with The Spirit of Tablets (2022), an installation shaped as a memorial tablet with a found photograph of Claude Cahun’s I am in training, don't kiss me.