We Love Phillip LaiJanuary 30, 2012
Phillip Lai at ModernArt: 13 January -11 February
Phillip Lai’s work emerges from within different guises, but never strays from the central overriding theme. Lai’s return to Modern Art for the fourth time, much like his 2007 exhibition, “Free to Meet For Coffee Sometime Soon”, unsettles the traditional approach to - and interaction with – his work.
His latest work is a more subtle approach to presenting the underside of a subject. Differing from his past works, such as the Untitled video (coffee display, 2007) which forced a deliberately unappealing viewpoint towards the globalisation of coffee trade, Lai takes towards restructuring the gallery’s architecture with his sculptural work. His assertiveness is commendable, though his latest work is not as imposing as previous works have been. That is not to say it is not as poignant. The material objects he creates stand as the subtext towards his abstract narrative of urban experience, transience, vacation, exchange and utility.
With new sculptures and use of 16mm film at Modern Art, the Kaula Lumpur born British artist occupies space with familiar urban materials that seem to blend and sit easily into the domestic space of the gallery. Lai allows abstract ideas to merge equally with the use of everyday objects by inserting them into environments where they unnaturally, yet seamlessly, fit together. The relation between materials and individual experience seem an important association in his work and continues to demonstrate his close proximity to the context of central questions.