Wong Ping: Heart Digger review

4 out of 5 stars
Wong Ping: Heart Digger review
Wong Ping, stills from ‘Dear, can I give you a hand?’ (2018) Image courtesy of the artist.

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

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Wong Ping creates brutal, grim, sexually violent modern fairy tales. But there’s no Red Riding Hood or any cute little pigs here. Instead, the Hong Kong artist tears and rips at ideas of societal dynamics through a world of throbbing cocks, aborted foetuses and mistreated OAPs.

He’s not been at it for long. He only started getting attention for his homemade animations a few years ago when a curator spotted his amateur work online. Now, he’s got this show across two of Camden Art Centre’s spaces (the main one in Finchley and a temporary one in Mayfair). He’s filled them with videos, buried inflatable giraffes and chattering toy gold teeth.

In ‘Who’s the Daddy’ a man has his eye stamped out with a high heel by a Christian woman who doesn’t believe in premarital sex but insists on being fisted until his hand breaks.

In ‘Dear, Can I Give You a Hand?’ an elderly man is forced to throw away his porn collection by his daughter-in-law while ants bite his knob but are killed by his diabetically sweet blood.

In the Mayfair space, shorter films from Wong Ping’s ‘Fables’ series take you through the trials and tribulations of a police officer chicken with Tourette’s and a social activist bull who has his horns cut off in prison and is sexually abused as a cow.

This isn’t all gross weirdness for its own sake. This is art about oppression and manipulation in a time when those are becoming increasingly big problems. A new wall text here even directly references the current Hong Kong protests. This is prescient, relevant stuff.

But more than anything, Wong Ping manages to combine two factors into something really special. Firstly, he’s a brilliantly weird writer. These are sad tales of domination and abuse that will make you cringe, flinch and genuinely laugh. Secondly, he’s got his aesthetic down pat. These videos are hyper-saturated and mega-colourful; the pixels look like they’re being pushed so hard they’re about to burn out the screens and his figures are these awesome, big, blobby grotesques.

The only thing that holds the show back is the fact that it’s spread across two spaces in two different bits of town – it would work a lot better in one place. I also can’t help but wonder if Wong Ping’s work gains anything from being put in a gallery instead of being left online.

But whatever. This is genuinely brilliant – and very uncomfortable – art. It’s not easy viewing, but it’s exactly what our broken times deserve.


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