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2 May - 8 June 2024

Barbara Penhouët   /  Vincent Ruffin

Hong Kong – Odds and Ends is pleased to present Of Other Spaces: Heterotopia, a two-person exhibition featuring works by French artists Barbara Penhouët and Vincent Ruffin. The exhibition is presented in collaboration with RHK STUDIO as part of the 2024 edition of French May and will be on view from 2nd May to 8th June 2024.   


Of Other Spaces: Heterotopia explores concepts of heterotopia and emplacement theorised by French philosopher Michel Foucault, through contemporary paintings by Penhouët and Ruffin. The exhibition draws parallels between modes of meaning-making in the pictorial plane and sense-making in our reality, exploring the creations of illusion in both art historical and social contexts. Conceived as an open-ended question, rather than an answer, the exhibition aims to dissect our ever-changing world through the painted lens of two contemporary artists. Their practices oscillate between abstraction and figuration, attesting to the vitality of the painted medium and the reciprocal transformations that take place between philosophy and art.  

Barbara Penhouët’s practice addresses Sigmund Freud’s notion of Das Unheimliche (the Uncanny) , recreating our everyday experience of confronting the familiar and the repressed through painted portraits. Choosing to work from observational photography, Penhouët’s work exist within the disparity between objective reality and perceived reality, further emphasising the phenomena of the uncanny in our highly performative society. By obscuring close up portraits of her subjects, her paintings evoke uncanny sensations whose meaning only becomes apparent upon close inspection. 

Describing her practice as Peinturethéâtre (Theater Painting), Penhouët’s work echoes Pina Bausch’s theory of Tanztheater, where dance transcends its fundamental expression of movement to evoke human emotions and unveil relational dynamics. In a similar vein, Penhouët’s Peinturethéâtre transforms the canvas into a stage that explores the human condition, unravelling tensions and harmonies within individuals that exists beyond the painted plane. 


Penhouët's artistic experimentation with solarisation and deliberate obscuration transcends mere technique; it becomes an invitation for narrative building. By manipulating light and shadow, she crafts an atmosphere that extends beyond the confines of the canvas, urging viewers to delve into the depths of their own interpretations. This exchange between artist and audience sparks a form of escapism, where the boundaries of tangible reality blur, and the mind is free to wander amidst the rich tapestry of pure imagination.


To Vincent Ruffin, his interest in heterotopia lies in its juxtapositional nature. Depicting scenes where disparate forms come together in relational settings, Ruffin illustrates the duality of utopia and heterotopia through magical realism. Characterised by his use of vivid colours, dreamlike imagery and unexpected juxtaposition of elements, Ruffin weaves the extraordinary into the everyday, inviting viewers to embrace the enchanting mysteries within the familiar. Developing each painting from memory, personal photographs or found images, Ruffin portrays ordinary people in extraordinary manners, positing them in otherworldly environments that hint at fantastical and dreamlike narratives. At once realistic and familiar, enigmatic and inscrutable, his paintings are akin to a nostalgic dreams that invite deciphering through colours and forms.


Heavily inspired by philosophy and literature, Ruffin’s practice is a mean of understanding human relations through painting. While his work often appears outlandish and nonsensical, they remain allegorical in nature and are reflective of his observations of the human condition. Inspired by writers such as Voltaire and Shakespeare, Ruffin deploys magical realism as a mean to metabolise the observable world around us. The pictorial plane constructed by Ruffin provides a metaphorical platform for social critique and philosophical ponderings, prompting viewers to acknowledge and observe the uncanniness of everyday reality while exploring the wonders of human existence.

Presented in collaboration with:

2. RHK Studio_Logo (CMYK).png
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