As art week descends upon Hong Kong, electrifying the city with creative fervour, citizens and art lovers are spoilt for choice in discovering a diverse range of exhibitions.While commercial galleries tend to dominate the week’s activities, Hong Kong institutions and alternative venues present equally enthralling (often even better) displays.Here our top ten picks of must see shows on view in the city this week.
TEXT: CoBo Editorial Force
IMAGES: Courtesy of the artists
1. K11 – Glow Like That
it seems to be no better place to see a light show than in Hong Kong, a city known for its neon signages and TST waterfront light shows. K11 Art Foundation is hosting Glow Like, a light-themed exhibition featuring 16 artists from China and beyond, at the spanking new Victoria Dockside. Spanning works across varied mediums, the exhibition explores light as subject, medium, and enabler – a reminder that light’s power lies not only in its ability to literally illuminate, but also reflect and refract.
March 27 – Until May 13
2. Tai Kwun – Performing Society: The Violence of Gender
Hongkongers usually shy away from discussions about gender and sexuality, and it’s only in recent years do we see more exhibitions on the subject. Curated by Susanne Pfeffer, The Violence of Gender gathers 11 artists for a deep dive into the ways that different systems, be it at the societal or familial level, inflict violence on the body. Themes of castration and powerlessness course through the exhibits, spread over two floors of JC Contemporary. Highlights include Marianna Simnett’s The Udder, a video art piece weaving together myth and industrial reality to provoke thought on the line between the organic and artificial, and Ma Quisha’s Must be Beauty, where an seemingly simple act belie the cruelty of the feminine beauty ideal.
Until April 28
3. Noguchi for Danh Vo: Counterpoint
At first glance, there seems little reason to put Isami Noguchi and Danh Vo together in an exhibition. While Noguchi was born to a Japanese poet and American writer in LA, Vo was born in Ba Rja, Vietnam, and settled in Denmark at the tender age of four after the Communist took over the country. But as Dakin Hart, The Noguchi Museum’s senior curator, says, a sense of diaspora underlie the artists’ works. This is perhaps, seen in the way that Noguchi and Vo’s works traverse easy categorisation not only in medium, but also style, with both artists referencing a myriad of cultural motifs and styles. Take Vo’s We the People (detail) as an example. The artist enlisted a factory in Shanghai to produce at a one-to-one scale the Statue of Liberty, except in Vo’s version, it’s made of 300 pieces of copper plates, prompting the question: is trans-Pacific cultural production the modern day ‘Lady Liberty’?
Until April 22
4. HKwalls 2019
After Central, Wong Chuk Hang and Sham Shui Po, HKwalls is swooping down upon Wanchai during art week this year. A line-up of local and international street artists has been invited to paint different murals in the historical district from March 23 – 31. Join Wanderlust Walk’s Alexandra Unrein as she takes you on a tour of this year’s murals alongside the district’s existing art. Meanwhile, this year’s festival pop-space space takes up shop in a 90-year-old Grade II historical building, and will host an exhibition showcasing past HKwalls’ art, art workshops.
March 23 – 31
5. KAWS: Along the Way
Street art has been all the rage in Asia, with the likes of Banksy and Shepard Fairey capturing the imagination of seasoned collectors and art newbies alike.This month, HOCA brings a survey exhibition of another famed street artist to town. Since the 90s, KAWS’ art has been reputed for capturing the 21st century zeitgeist – for its cartoonish aesthetics and the predilection for bending the line between art, design and fashion. Curated by Germano Celant, the exhibition will display 37 works, from ALONG THE WAY, a 5.5-metre-high sculpture, and the 8-feet tall ACCOMPLICE, to smaller ‘toys’ n paintings. The exhibition will also debut a pair of larger than life COMPANION figures.
March 25 – April 14
6. South Island Art Day 2019
The normally quiet neighbourhood of Wong Chuk Hang is fast becoming an arts destination. Take advantage of South Island Art Day 2019 to visit the plethora of art spaces on the southern tip of Hong Kong Island, including Axel Verdoodt, which is debuting its two-floor space with Infinitive Mutability, a group show featuring works by Peter Buggenhout, Kimsooja and Bosco Sodi. Other highlights include Hong Kong artist Lam Tung Pang’s Saan Dung Gei at Blindspot gallery, Chris Huen’s Tall Trees – and the things I might have forgotten and Jorinde Voigt at McNamara Art Projects. The South Island Art Day is hosted by South Island Cultural District.
March 29, 10am – 2pm
7. Form Colour Action
As artistic mediums, drawing and performance art appear to bear little relation to each other. While the former is as old as mankind, performance art has a relatively short history, with its origins in the Dada movement during the 1920s. Form Colour Action, an exhibition at Asia Art Archive, says otherwise. Featuring Lee Wen’s sketch books and notebooks from 1988 up till 2002, the exhibitionshows how the artist used line and colour to convey emotions and actions, and how his performance art is anchored in his drawing. One highlight includes a 1992 drawing of the Hindu goddess sitting on a lotus flower, her body merging with the landscape, with the one forming part of a continuum.
March 13 – June 29
8. Unfolding: Fabric of Our Life
The Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile aka CHAT is opening with Unfolding: Fabric of our Life. Featuring works by 17 contemporary artists and collectives from across Asia, the show points out how our thinking of textile should go beyond fashion. Hidden within – or between – this tactile material are personal and collective experiences of textile labour in the era of accelerated globalisation. Highlights include Movana Chen, who presents a new work knitted from disused paper from Nan Fung Textiles, and Huang Po-Chih, whose video work is inspired by a Hong Kong tailor couple. There is also Alma Quinto, who collaborated with Filipino domestic works in Hong Kong to create fabric sculptures and textile books.
Until June 30
9. A Story of Light: Hon Chi-fun & Yukaloo by James Turrell
Asia Society pays tribute to two artists whose respective oeurves of work are informed by light. While light is an important element of both Hon Chi-fun and James Turrell’s works, it can also be argued that light isn’t the art itself. For both artists, light is used in a myriad of ways to manipulate the way we see colours and shapes, and ultimately our surroundings.Hon’s Secret Codes is a case in point – stand in front of it long enough and the spot of white in the middle of the painting appears to be levitating. Meanwhile, Turrell’s Yukaloo gives the sense that you are being pulled from a gallery to a surreal open-air space then back.
Until June 9
10. An Opera for Animals
A century after the height of European imperialism, the world is finally coming to some kind of reckoning that we should perhaps, look at alternatives beyond Euro- and North American-centric narratives. In the art world, this is manifested in the late Okwui Enwezor’s All the World’s Futures at the 2015 Venice Biennale, Sharjah Biennial 14, and Para Site’s upcoming exhibition. The Opera for Animals is an exhibition that spans mediums and geographies. Using the idea of the European opera, where every element seemingly operates in a controlled environment on stage, as springboard, the exhibition asks what the 21st century world stage is composed of: a mix of truths and alternative truths? A digital world existing in tandem with the ‘real’ one?