Hong Kong Spotlight by Art Basel

Fong Chung-Ray and Michael Müller

Galerie du Monde will be presenting a curated showcase of two artists at Hong Kong Spotlight by Art Basel – Fong Chung-Ray (b. 1933) from Taiwan’s avant-garde Fifth Moon Group, and German conceptual artist Michael Müller (b. 1970), examining the different aspects of their painterly process, and their transition from classical to conceptual approaches, methods and techniques of painting, as a means of self-expression that transcends time and place.


In addition, Art Basel has selected Michael Müller for one of its public projects at the fair. In booth S10, Galerie du Monde presents an installation by Michael Müller  entitled "The Self and the Other - Stripping the Force". 

The group of Himmelheber exhibits displayed in the project is covered by a coarse, dark paste. The paste consists of materials derived from the vulnerable, ‘open’ body.


A neon lit, two-part acrylic glass cabinet displays quasi-ethnographic exhibits re-miniscent of vacuum cleaners, stand-ing one on top of the other. The objects are coated in their entirety, reduced in shape and contour, uniform. The dark paste marks them out as ‘chosen’ sacred artefacts.

Encrusted, the forms become strange, unfamiliar, and untouchable things — bespeaking a ritual we do not know, part of form of life now extinct.

Besides the vacuum cleaner forms in the two-part, neon lit acrylic glass vitrine, a series (80 pieces) of small animal-like and three helmet-like sculptures are on display.


The series of small animal-like sculptures — “Feldforschung – New African Kono” — are oriented towards a (sunken) ‘mother animal’ that represents both a basic form and a form of decay. The helmet-like sculptures are positioned in front of photo wallpaper, integrating them into a complex scenic context. This group of work exemplifies the pictorial language of the Himmelheber.


With the Himmelheber, Michael Müller has invented a form of life. According to Müller, the Himmelheber have already been extinct and revived a number of times. Among their characteristics are a voluntary death by choice (always in autumn and at a ri-ver, always chaperoned by a companion, Tarung) and a hermaphrodite priesthood that is meant to connect to the Dram, the “In-Between”, where the Gods and ancestors are located, a realm between life and death.


Consequently, many of their artefacts are preserved in multiple versions, copies and adaptations. The little information Müller provides on the Himmelheber compels the visitors to their ‘free’ interpretation. What is left are the artefacts – from a ritual we do not know. But do we understand the art of such peculiar rituals that we call exhibitions?


Through his imagination, Müller points out to the viewer connections and diff-erences, creating new pathways between intellectual terrains that are diametrically different and yet strangely complement one another. Each work builds on a dense network of references, until it, finally, out of many sensuous single parts, forms a complete, meaningful whole.



November 23, 2020
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