An exhibition you will want to view, Over & Over & Over (again)
Countless covers, centrefolds, and pages of Craccum have been graced by Kiki Hall’s familiar illustrations. Drawing from strong Asian influences and inspired by manga, she works with simple and bold lines that play with value through vibrancy and strokes. Needless to say, Kiki’s unique and charming art style is instantly recognisable to Craccum readers, bringing the words of our writers to life.
Aside from being a valued and long-time illustrator for our magazine, Kiki’s artistry also extends to the realms of sculpture, ceramics, and painting. She not only recently finished her BFA at ELAM, but also opened up a brand new contemporary art exhibition at the Wallace Gallery titled Over & Over & Over (again).
Curated by three ELAM artists—Kiki Hall, Gabriella Lidstone White, and Heleana McNaught, the exhibition features pieces from the Wallace Art Trust collection and the artists’ own newly created works. Through painting, ceramics, photography, and sculpture, Over & Over & Over (again) captures the simple gifts and patterns of nature, referencing the ever-evolving forms of the natural world.
The exhibition was born during Kiki’s time as a Wallace Arts Trust Summer Intern. Of the work, Kiki says “Gabriella, Helena, and I all sat down to discuss what connections there were between our practices, and what we concluded was nature. This brought about the other key points of colour and form. We wanted to showcase materiality, linking saturated colour and abstract multidimensionality”.
Kiki’s original work on showcase includes ‘Fresh Green’ (2022) and the ‘Lotus Dew’ (2022).
‘Fresh Green’ features a pate de verre glass spring onion, lotus leaf, and complimentary spring onion cutlets. The lush green piece looks deliciously crisp. Kiki’s painstaking attention-to-detail for each delicate vein, each glossy slice, and each miniscule speck of dirt on the spring onion made it seem like it had just been plucked out of my mother’s vege garden.
For the artist, the spring onion was picked because “it is an important part of Asian culture. Both my partner and I’s culture frequently use this vegetable as the finishing touch, and though it is very common, a myriad of dishes wouldn’t be the same without it”.
Glass work not only helped Kiki capture the dainty intricacies of the spring onion, but the process of learning how to use glass opened up “so many possibilities”. Her interest in using this medium peaked early this year, “I was fortunate enough to meet Katherine Rutecki, who taught me all I currently know about glass casting… It has been wonderful experiencing each step of the process”. Creating the spring onion occurred over the course of three months. This was also Kiki’s first time working with glass, a truly impressive feat.
Similarly, ‘Lotus Dew’, an acrylic painting of a lotus leaf on board, carries a personal connection to the artist, inspired by leaves she found in her father’s garden. “It was made with layers of an abstract collection of shapes, colours, and patterns, which not only pertain to the exhibition’s theme, but also capture the essence of shiny dew drops… I wanted to create a playful piece that kept your eyes moving”. Indeed, her lotus leaves steers away from the still-life art style and instead embraces the whimsical, incorporating colour and fun into the subtle details of the piece.
Adjacent to Kiki’s ‘Fresh Green’ is lightbox print ‘The Sign (Variation #1)’, a piece by Jae Hoon Lee. The work was displayed there to highlight how the artworks echo each other, “particularly in the shape, as well as being a nod to side-by-side Asian representation”. Kiki also notes that “there is a slightly humorousness that comes with this juxtaposition, a large lightbox print, beside a dried spring onion hung on a gallery wall. We thought this worked well with the other playful elements in the show”.
Certainly, when you look around the exhibition, your eyes are immediately drawn to the variety of bold, curious, and delicate mediums and colours. Kiki’s favourite piece in the show was Judy Darragh’s Laser Bloom series, a collection of acrylic neon pink and yellow flowers that provided vibrant pops of colour to the walls. “That artwork really captures the core ideas of the show—abstraction of nature, vibrancy in colour, and malleable form. Also, the materiality in that piece is mesmerising as it appears neon, without the need for lights”.
Over & Over & Over (again) differs from Kiki’s previous exhibitions as it gave her the unique opportunity to utilise pre-existing artworks owned by the Pah Homestead, rather than only working with new works. She found that this made curating the show an interesting experience as it required “a clearer understanding of what artworks were going to be used”.
The exhibition was also a distinct experience for Kiki because it symbolised the end of her time as an ELAM undergraduate, and her beginnings as an emerging artist. She reflects that her time as a student was “particularly difficult through lockdown times. With inaccessibility to paid facilities, issues with communication, and overall pent-up stress doing everything at home, I am of the belief that I was not able to create what I wanted, which was a shame”.
However, undertaking a BFA was still a valuable experience, “ELAM did open my eyes to contemporary art. I learnt that art can be contextual and conceptual, holding more meaning on narrative significance, rather than just purely aesthetic and technique or skill based”.
More notably, ELAM helped to elucidate Kiki’s ambitions and interests as an artist. “Upon finishing my degree, I realised that my practice is now based in highlighting the natural intricacies of our surrounding environment. I want to merge traditional with contemporary, and continue to explore nature, my culture, and existence”.
Over & Over & Over (again) is open for viewing until 11 September at the Wallace Arts Trust Collection Gallery. To view and keep up to date with Kiki’s artwork and journey as an artist, she can be found on Instagram @kiki_san_art and @kiku_masan.
Images of the artwork and exhibition are courtesy of Kiki Hall.
Headshot of Kiki is courtesy of Yasmin Dullabh.