Sarasota, Florida- The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is pleased to present Howie
Tsui: Retainers of Anarchy (2017) in its United States debut. The exhibition will open March 15,
2020, in the museum’s Keith D. and Linda L. Monda Gallery for Contemporary Art. Retainers of
Anarchy is a monumental 25 meter-long projection with sound created from the digitization and
animation of hundreds of ink drawings. The work draws from literary and artistic genres of the
Song dynasty (960 –1279 CE), but undermines its idealized portraiture of social cohesion by
setting the narrative in Kowloon’s notorious Walled City—an ungoverned tenement of
disenfranchised refugees in Hong Kong, which was demolished in 1994. The animation
pictorially references major works of Chinese art, scenes from historic stories and modern life
within parallel universes.
The work considers wuxia as a narrative tool for dissidence and resistance. Wuxia, a traditional
form of martial arts literature that expanded into 20th century popular film and television, was
created out of narratives and characters often from lower social classes that uphold chivalric
ideals against oppressive forces during unstable times. The People’s Republic of China placed
wuxia under heavy censorship for fear of arousing anti-government sentiment. However,
practitioners advanced the form in Hong Kong making it one of the most popular genres of
Chinese fiction. By representing a number of Hong Kong’s current political activists in this
work, Tsui pays tribute to wuxia characters, who are also often persecuted for their activism.
Howie Tsui (Tsui Ho Yan) was born in Hong Kong, raised in Nigeria and Canada. His work was
included in solo and group exhibitions internationally, including the Vancouver Art Gallery,
Canada; OCAT Xi’an Museum, China; Para Site, Hong Kong; Asian Art Museum of San
Francisco; National Gallery of Canada; Art Labor, China; Ikkan Art Gallery, Singapore, among
others. Tsui’s work is in the public collections of the National Gallery of Canada, Vancouver Art
Gallery, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Canada Council Art Bank, Ottawa Art Gallery, City
of Ottawa, Global Affairs Canada, Centre d’exposition de Baie-Saint-Paul, and M+ Museum of
Artist Talk with Howie Tsui will be held in the Chao Lecture Hall March 13, 2020, at 11 a.m.
This exhibition is organized and circulated by the Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada.
Additional information may be found at ringling.org or by calling 941-358-3180.
Image: Howie Tsui, Retainers of Anarchy, 2017 (detail), algorithmic animation sequence, 5-
channel video projection, 6-channel audio. Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Purchased
with proceeds from the Audain Emerging Artists Acquisition Fund. Photo: Rachel Topham,
Vancouver Art Gallery
About The Ringling
The Ringling is a pre-eminent center for the arts, history and learning that is dedicated to
bringing the past and contemporary culture to life through extraordinary visitor experiences.
From its inception, The Ringling has joined the diverse visual traditions and theatrical spectacle
of yesterday with the genre-defying global practitioners of the present.
A place of exploration, discovery and respite, The Ringling’s campus in Sarasota, Florida –
which includes the Museum of Art, the Circus Museum, an historic mansion, an 18th-century
theater and bayfront gardens – is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
As the State Art Museum of Florida and part of Florida State University, The Ringling fulfills an
important educational mission. The Ringling offers formal and informal programs of study
serving as a major resource for students, scholars, and lifelong learners of every age within the
region, across the country and around the world.
Virginia Harshman, public relations specialist