Testing the water: Maya Lin’s new river installations at Pace Gallery Hong Kong

Testing the water: Maya Lin’s new river installations at Pace Gallery Hong Kong

American artist and architect Maya Lin’s thoughtful exhibition at Pace Gallery’s Hong Kong outpost offers a salutary lesson in the power of simple and pure forms reflecting a deeper meaning.

Lin first made a name for herself as a student at Yale University with her design of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, in 1982. According to the artist, a love for the natural world and a fascination in the places between things run through all her work, whether architectural design or artistic installations.

In her first solo exhibition in Hong Kong, Lin explores the natural beauty and form of rivers, utilising high tech geographical information to create an elegantly simple series of eleven works, two of which – striking wall sculptures – are on show for the first time. 

The first, Pin River – Yangtze, 2015, is a 5.8m-long sculptural installation of steel pins that form an outline of the Yangtze, the longest river in Asia. The second, Silver Pearl, 2015, is smaller (at 1.7m) but is the undoubted highlight of the show, presenting a bird’s eye view of the glistening Pearl River Delta as a molten abstract form in recycled silver.

‘Using silver, a precious material that also has a reflective water-like quality, presents these rivers as extremely precious and jewel-like,’ says the artist, who is working on a series that will incorporate all the major rivers of the world.

Other beguiling works on show include two marble sculptures, titled Disappearing Bodies of Water, 2013 – showing how over-usage of water has reduced the depths of Lake Chad and the Aral Sea.

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