While international superstars of the art world descend upon Hong Kong during the last week of March – aka “art week” – and revel in the limelight, local artists often get overlooked. Here we reveal 10 exhibitions which showcase works by local artists, highlighting the city’s own budding art scene.
TEXT: CoBo Editorial Force
IMAGES: Courtesy of the artists
1. Tai Kwun Contemporary: “Contagious cities”
Tai Kwun Contemporary is the art programming arm of Hong Kong’s newest institution dedicated to presenting contemporary art exhibitions and programmes as platforms for a continually expanding cultural discourse in Hong Kong. “Contagious Cities” curated by local Hong Konger Ying Kwok weaves an illuminating tale of Hong Kong’s rather unfortunate history of epidemics, ranging from the 19th century plague to the infamous SARS outbreak in 2003. The impact of these diseases on society is visually deciphered by six Hong Kong artists: Firenze Lai, Oscar Chan Yik Long, Enoch Cheng, Angela Su, Cheuk Wing Nam and Eastman Cheng.
2. Para Site: “An Opera for Animals”
One of the first non commercial institutions in Hong Kong dedicated to exhibiting art from the region in a more critical and academic context, Para Site presents: Opera for Animals curated by Cosmin Costinas and Claire Shea. From emotive performances to artificial landscapes, this show explores how certain operatic devices form parallels between our contemporary reality and its artificial truths, virtual realities, and the promise of increasingly active development of new technologies. Works by Angela Su, Samson Young and Clara Cheung, Vivian Ho and Jes Fan will be found on view.
3. H Queen – “Exit Strategies”
Right in the midst of a luxury building housing some of the worlds most powerful international galleries, viewers can find Exit Strategies a site specific art experience conceived by David Chan, curated cohesively illuminating the architecture of the building. Featuring works by established and emerging artists from Hong Kong, including Lee Kit, Tsang Kin Wah, Chloe Cheuk and Silas Fong, the show utilizes the public space of H Queen’s to explore notions of psychological escapism experienced in response to the hustle and bustle of the city. For artwork highlights and more information, read our in depth review.
4. Osage Gallery: “Present Passing: South by Southeast”
Osage Gallery has been exploring the cultural and artistic relationships between different regions of Asia as well as Asia’s connection to the rest of the world. This year, Patrick D. Flores and Natasha Becke curate Present Passing: South by Southeast, which marks an ambitious and significant venture into reimagining how we perceive Southeast Asia. Hong Kong artists Sarah Lai and Leung Mee Ping will be featured in the show. By undermining commonplace assumptions and outdated stereotypes, it redefines the artistic legacy of the region by decentralizing the Western art historical canon.
Blindspot Gallery, a local heavyweight, began with the intention to bring contemporary photography to the forefront. Their program has now evolved to include a diverse range of media in contemporary art, their latest show featuring work by acclaimed local artist Lam Tung Pang for his first solo exhibition at the gallery, “Saan Dung Gei”. The exhibition consists of non-linear chapters that describe the allegorical journey of an itinerant traveler, “Eye”, who searched for, discovered and then lost an manuscript written by an anonymous novelist. Featuring Lam’s most recent works from this year and last, the show depicts how the artist challenges his own medium creates a three-dimensional medley of paintings, installations, video sculptures, kinetic projection, and found objects.
6. Gallery Exit: Chris Huen
Gallery Exit is the place to visit if you’re looking to be in know with the local emerging arts scene. In anticipation of art week this year, the gallery will be presenting a solo exhibition by Hong Kong artist Chris Huen. Huen was selected by Forbes as one of the 30 artists aged under 30 in Asia. Through his practice, he captures the details of everyday life in the subdued colours of his paintings. In his new works, the towering greeneries are painted in oil on canvas alongside with water-colour drawings of daily memorial fragments, both convey Huen’s mindful and sluggish way of seeing. He is going to keep exploring the quotidian with the persistent conscientiousness.
7. Foo Tak Building – Yeung Tong Lung – “Cuts in Synchronicity”
ACO Art Space at 6/F Foo Tak Building was initiated in early 2018, striving to create opportunities for artists to make experimental but accessible art. They will be showcasing Yeung Tong Lung’s most recent paintings and sketches which comprise Cuts in Synchronicity. Yeung is one of Hong Kong’s most established painters and these seemingly realistic paintings depict illusory landscapes assembled by the artist through a combined process of re-comprehension, imagination and dissection. The landscapes explore daily life in the streets, old buildings and homes, parks, and people typically encountered in Hong Kong.
8. Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre: Samson Young – “Instrumentation”
Perhaps one of the Hong Kong’s most internationally well known artists, Samson Young’s recent site-specific work Possible Music #1.5 (feat. NESS & Stephan Moore), features a set filled with enormous musical instruments, emitting sounds which can’t possibly exist in the real world. Also showcased in a theatre, is his latest iteration apart of his ongoing project, Muted Situation #22: Muted Tchaikovsky’s 5th. This is his first solo exhibition in Hong Kong after his Songs for Disaster Relief show in M+. Audiences can expect having an extraordinary audio-visual experience, leading them to explore the ambiguity between truth and imagination.
9. Form Society: Drum & Voice Out!
After the closing of Things that can happen and 100ft park in Sham Shui Po, people were concerned for the continued existence of artist operated spaces in Hong Kong. Enter Form Society – a local cultural hub, also in Sham Shui Po, founded by artist Wong Tin Yan. This March, a series of events co-hosted with the Hong Kong Artist Union will take place there, including pop-up exhibitions, talks and giveaways, all aimed towards supporting local artists. Works by the following artists will be featured: Cheuk Wing Nam, Cheng Ting Ting, Doreen Chan, Ip Wai Lung, Michael Leung, Ocean Leung, Wong Ka Ying and Yu Shuk Pui Bobby. Their work can be read as a reflection on Hong Kong’s local art scene, serving as the perfect contrast to the hustling commerciality dominating the art world on Hong Kong island.
10. Asia Society: Hon Chi-fun & James Turrell
Fulfilling their mission of fostering cultural exchange and a East – West dialogue, Asia Society beautifully contextualizes the ground breaking work of the late Hon Chi-Fun (1922 – 2019), together with American artist James Turrell’s Yukaloo. Hon was a self-taught artist who rose to prominence in the 1960s with his radical artistic experiments that combined international influences as a response to Hong Kong’s multi-cultural environment. The exhibition presents over thirty artworks spanning four decades of his trailblazing practice through painting, printmaking, and photography.
The lack of grassroots and institutional support for Hong Kong artists has been critiqued for sometime. The few institutions who do strive to foster and promote local talent, certainly exist and persist, but need to grow in number and clout. It is somewhat of a pity that while the art market in the city thrives and shows no signs of slowing down, this economic success is rarely, if ever, transferred or contributing to that of local artists. While Hong Kong does offer some opportunities to view homegrown work by local artists (which appear to come into fruition during March every year), there are exhibitions held globally in which their works are recognised and valued. Notable ones amongst them include, Morgan Wong’s Time Needle Series in the Minimalism: Space. Light. Object. exhibition at the ArtScience Museum, Singapore, Nadim Abbas’s 4 rooms performance at the 12th Shanghai Biennale, and Pak Shueng Chuen’s participation in Rome MAXXI’s The Street. Where the World is Made.