LONDON: “Tonight the Air is Warm” opens February 26, 2021 at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery


Gallery release:

TONIGHT THE AIR IS WARM

26 FEBRUARY - 27 MARCH 2021

Private View: Thursday 25 February 2021, 6:30-9pm, LONDON (LONDON BRIDGE)  

MANIT SRIWANICHPOOM (TH), YEE I-LANN (MY), SARAH CHOO JING (SG), BUDI AGUNG KUSWARA (IND), NICOLE COSON (PH), WAWI NAVARROZA (PH), JO NGO (VN), GENEVIEVE CHUA (SG

Tonight the Air is Warm brings together a collection of vibrant and diverse photography, print and video works by eight established, mid-career and emerging artists from Southeast Asia. Curated by Tolla Duke Sloane, the show will occupy both the main and speakeasy space at Kristin Hjellegjerde’s London Bridge gallery, providing audiences the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the region’s artistic landscape. From the tropical gothic to the surrealism of dreams and folklore, and the reimagining of historical narratives, the artists’ reflect on universal issues relating to identity and belonging, whilst also providing heightened and imaginative insights into the cultural specifics of their geographical locations.    

Due to the cramped urban spaces of the Southeast Asian cities, photography and other digital mediums are central to the region’s contemporary art scene, allowing artists to transcend their physical boundaries. Thai artist and social activist Manit Sriwanichpoom is widely recognised as one of the original pioneers of a more conceptual, socio-geographical approach to photography and is best known for his striking Pink Man series (1997-2018) from which two works will be shown in this exhibition. The selected photographs feature the cartoon-esque character - who is embodied by Thai poet Sompong Thawee - posed within the set of a so-called ‘opera’. Dressed in his signature fluorescent pink suit with a matching shopping trolley, the character’s presence is both humorous and jarring, mutely referencing the absurdity of consumer culture.   

Similarly, Malaysian artist Yee I-Lann’s primarily photomedia-based art practice draws on  the visual language of magic realism and mythology to speculate on issues of culture, power and the resonance of historical narratives in collective consciousness. Her large-scale photo-collage artwork Like the Banana Tree at the Gate conjures up the folkloric figure of the Pontianak (the ghostly spirit of a vengeful woman who was said to live in a banana tree), who is embodied by several well known artists and activists within a contemporary studio setting. I-Lann uses humour as a satirical tool to both charm the viewer and once again, expose the absurdity of traditional perspectives in the context of the modern world.   

Sarah Choo Jing’s practice also employs theatrical techniques, often designing controlled spaces that used to incite spontaneous interaction. For her video installation Tonight, the air is warm (after which the exhibition is titled), she invited the residents of a social housing complex in Singapore to gather in the playground area at night where she left varying props for them to interact with under stage lighting. ‘The essential nature of the activity is imprecise and occurs across space and time,’ commented the artist. ‘A perpetually open project, the piece takes place in the inter-spaces between interpretation and negotiation, performance and chance.’ By contrast, a video work entitled Where do the fishes go? by Vietnamese artist Jo Ngo, made in April 2020 when Ho Chi Minh City was in lockdown, transports viewers into a hallucinogenic vision of fish and whales swimming through scenes of a city emptied of human interaction. Accompanied by an otherworldly soundtrack, the video has a calming and poetic quality, but at the same time it is impossible to ignore environmental connotations of the natural world reclaiming man-made, urban spaces.  

Balinese artist Budi Agung Kuswara engages with historical narratives and archival imagery to create intricately detailed large-scale works that occupy the hazy, liminal space between dream and reality. For this exhibition, Kuswara presents a series of cyanotypes, which are created by assembling objects and materials onto light-sensitive photographic paper and exposing the composition to the sun. The artist then paints colour onto the blue printed image, imbuing a touch of opulence to his characters and also completing the physical connection between the body and sun. This sense of connectivity is central to Kuswara’s practice - and specifically his fascination with mystical science - through which the imagery of the past is revived in the present.   

Filipino artist Nicole Coson’s print-making practice also meditates on the residues of time. She sees her depictions of verdant tropical landscapes as ‘architectural interventions…piercing walls with flourishing green windows’ that transport the viewer not only into a new geographical location, but also into a psychological space, reflecting on the power of imagery to awaken the memory and imagination. A similarly palimpsestic approach is central to Genevieve Chua’s image-making process. The Singaporean artist typically begins by photographing wild, natural landscapes in black and white, before painting onto the print, using colour to focus our gaze on a specific aspect or detail which might otherwise be overlooked. Also based in Singapore, Robert Zhao Renhui’s cerebral practice is preoccupied with the natural world and human intervention. In an ongoing series, he inserts a piece of human detritus into the jungle and then sets up a camera trap to record nature’s interactions. The resulting images are typically dark and closely-cropped with an intimate, voyeuristic quality that places the viewer in an almost uncomfortable position as an outsider looking in.   

A collection of visually arresting artworks by Wawi Navarroza, come from the Filipino artist’s 2019 series entitled Self-Portraits & The Tropical Gothic. Navarroza creates formally staged scenes for the camera, deliberately controlling the lighting techniques and scenography to flatten the final image and fuse together disparate elements. In this way, the artist defines the Tropical Gothic as a process of syncretism that reflects on the incongruities of Filipino culture as a blend of East and Western influences, and also, on the performance and construction of self more generally.

Presented together, this collection of bold, visually arresting artworks offers a vivid form of escapism that not only transports audiences into the landscapes and stories of Southeast Asia, but also fosters a deeper understanding of, and appreciation for the region’s diverse, flourishing creativity.

More information: Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery



BENEFIT: Wawi Navarroza for Shelter Fund (COVID response)

Wawi Navarroza contributes the image “Land, Untitled (bougainvillea” for ShelterFund, a collective print sale fund-raiser for the benefit of photographers and artists affected by COVID19 in the Philippines, resulting from cancelled projects, exhibitions and loss of studios for some. Each purchase is shared between the image author and a communal fund divided to everyone in the pool.  The print sale features established names and emerging talent alike, with images printed on archival museum paper individually signed by the artists. The price is reduced to affordable rates with various size options. The campaign ends MAY 31, 2020. Orders can be placed via ShelterFund website.


“Land, Untitled (bougainvillea)” . 
Wawi Navarroza, 2010/2020 .
 Signed, en verso . Archival pigment print
 . A4, A3, A2 sizes . 
Open Edition
 . From the artist’s archive “Land, Untitled” series .

  • BUY NOW at shelterfund.ph : https://bit.ly/2TlYL0F
  • Price starts at 4,500PhP (89USD)

  • Available at different sizes, prints are on archival museum paper

  • Signed at the back of the print 
  • Shipping PH and INTL available

More info on the artwork: 


This image by Wawi Navarroza is included in the book “GR-09022017” published in Norway, 2017, marking 40 years of the Voyager Golden Records . “GR-09022017” includes work by over 100 invited photographers and artists, amongst them Alec Soth, Daisuke Yokota, Lina Selander, Lorenzo Vitturi, Lucas Blalock, Pieter Hugo, Pipilotti Rist, Torbjørn Rødland, Tracey Moffatt and Wolfgang Tillmans, edited by Silja Leifsdottir. 

 The publication is inspired by the Voyager Golden Records, an archive established in 1977 and sent out into space as a coded record, intended as a greeting to extraterrestrial life and/or our future descendants. The record was placed on board the Voyager spacecraft and is currently orbiting in space, not heading toward any particular star, but estimated to pass within 1.6 light-years of the star Gliese 445, currently in the constellation Camelopardalis, in about 40,000 years. The project was directed by NASA in collaboration with the astronomer and writer Carl Sagan and his team.


NEWS: Wawi Navarroza receives Lucas Artists Fellowship Award for Visual Arts 2019-2022


SARATOGA, Calif. — Montalvo Arts Center’s Sally and Don Lucas Artists Program is proud to announce its most recent Lucas Artists Fellowship awards to 33 artists of exceptional talent from across the US and the world. This distinguished group includes individuals from 16 countries working in the fields of visual arts, architecture, urbanism, and design.

Every three years, by discipline, the Lucas Artists Program (LAP) invites a distinguished panel of international nominators to identify up to three emerging, mid-career, or established artists who have the potential to become significant voices of their generation.

Each artist selected is awarded three months in the Lucas Artists Residency over three years, with the ability to return multiple times. This represents significant ongoing support for an artist’s work over a three-year period.

Located within a 175-acre public park and historic property in the heart of the Silicon Valley in California, the Lucas Artists Program (LAP) is an interdisciplinary creative incubator and cultural producer dedicated to investing in artists from all disciplines and geographical locations and to supporting the creative process and sharing of ideas. The LAP provides artists with time and space to develop new work, take risks, and forge collaborative partnerships. The LAP also supports artists as they engage the community in critical conversation through the creation and presentation of new work and varied public program offerings. This approach is grounded in Montalvo’s belief that artists’ voices enrich our world and serve as a catalyst for debate about issues important to us all.

Montalvo houses the oldest artist residency program on the West Coast of the US, hosting artists since 1939.

Complete release and information HERE





BENEFIT: Wawi Navarroza at MCAD “Funding The Future” ongoing until September 8

Selected pieces from Wawi Navarroza Hunt & Gather, Terraria currently on show at Museum of Contemporary Art and Design(MCAD) “Funding The Future” at Leon Gallery, Makati, ongoing until SEPT 8 . 

More info: http://www.mcadmanila.org.ph/funding-the-future/

Images: ©Wawi Navarroza, “TERRARIUMII” and “TERRARIUMIII”, 2013 . 30 x 20 in / 76.2 x 50.8 cm . Silverlens Galleries 

© Wawi Navarroza 2019
Using Format