Malaysia / Edouard Malingue Gallery
Born 1969, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Lai is interested in the politics of space. Whether it be a plastic basin hanging from the wall such as ‘Untitled’ (2016) or a delicately balanced collection of finely crafted aluminium pots as in ‘Certain pressures’ (2016), Lai plays with arrangement, from the wall to the floor, to create different observation angles which in turn inform our physical encounter.
This sense of a ‘meeting’ between self and object, self and composition of, is where the poetry of Lai’s work lies. Permeating his practice is a tension between simplicity and complexity, how that very ‘thing’ one recognises is reduced to what it actually is, yet how, through this arrival at an essence, a new level of awareness is unveiled and unfolded. Lai effectively lays out an epistemological methodology that is not pinned by absolutes. Rather, it opens the seemingly definitive to the abstract, urging a contemplative step away from the assumed and contained towards the open and dispersed.
Phillip Lai’s work has been featured internationally in solo exhibitions at Camden Arts Centre, London, Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London and Transmission, Glasgow, Galleria Franco Noero, Turin and Galerie Giti Nourbakhsch, Berlin. His work has also been featured in group exhibitions at Tate Modern, ICA, Hayward Gallery, Drawing Room in London and MOMA in New York.