ArtAsiaPacific: Kwok Mang-Ho (Frog King)

Published March/Apr 2018 issue of ArtAsiaPacific. To read full article, visit the magazine's Digital Library. (Click on the image to scroll through the pages.) 

"In fire, Kwok recognized an ineffable quality that embodies ephemerality—it blazes and then quickly dies, and yet ravages everything it grazes. The idea to burn quotidian objects had come to him one day in the ’70s, when he stumbled across a mass of charred, lumpen pipes and toys that had fallen victim to a recent warehouse fire. After unsuccessful inquiries into purchasing these ashen artifacts, which for the owners only signaled loss and damage, Kwok loaded his truck and headed to the open fields of Yuen Long, an area in the New Territories that would become the site of some of his most experimental work. There, he began burning objects and stacking them together to form totems that utilized the original structure of these items—often made of bamboo, or another element he had begun to experiment with at the time in large quantities: wood. In forcing uniformity in their color by burning them to a black char, Kwok rendered the objects unrecognizable. An example is Burnt 1074 (1975), which in its subtle variations of ash and charcoal hints at the shapes of found cow bones, metal pipes, logs and toys, the functions of which have been reduced to pure sculpture."

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