Dancing with the Wolves

Life is a constant state of conflict and struggle, driven by the pursuit of desires, power, money, and fame. In the process to find meaning and happiness in our lives, we are constantly challenged by the darker side within ourselves. The root of evil to many of the sufferings, violence, and unjust comes from the wolves within each one of us.

AC43 Gallery is pleased to present Boo Sze Yang’s latest solo exhibition, Dancing with the Wolves, which features over 15 oil works completed in the period of 2015-2021. The show spotlights the artist’s latest series of work, which explores the validity of Plato’s notion of an ideal society comprising people in observance of their classes and duties (producers, auxiliaries, and guardians), in contrast with Thomas Hobbes’s view on human nature as selfish and destructive. Darkly comic and brimming with technicolour theatricality, the paintings provoke viewers to contemplate the performative aspect of reality as they navigate daily through the optics that postulate as truth in today’s heightened post-truth digital era.

A society is just when the relationship between these three classes is harmonious. Each group must be in the right position of power in relation to the others and must perform its function appropriately. Aristocracy is the form of government advocated in Plato's Republic. This regime is ruled by a philosopher king, and is thus grounded in wisdom and reason. We give powers to our office-bearers in the hope that they will do what is right and just. We trust the law enforcers to protect and keep us safe. We wish our fellow citizens are compassionate, law-abiding and respectful to differing social practices. However, according to Thomas Hobbes, humans are selfish, destructive, unprincipled, and at war with each other. Social and political unrest arises mainly from a clash of interests between groups and societies, between political leaders and parties, between the rulers and the ruled.

These works by Boo Sze Yang probe our perception of truth and reality, and project another dimension for contemplating scenes of civic discontent and unrest that have been circulating in the global media in recent years. After studying and re-composing images of protest and punishment, Boo Sze Yang reframes the scenes through dark humour and an exaggerated theatricality, blowing up the uncanny repetition of figures, synchronised dance moves, and poster-like mise-en-scene. Each painting is titled after a well-known song that had been used in certain protest movements around the world, like “Another One Bites the Dust”, “Too Young to Die” and “Don’t Take your Guns to Town”, creating an intertextuality that enriches our imagination of the scenes and emotions beyond the visuals of his canvases