Nestled in Hong Kong’s iconic Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, Victoria Dockside is a newly unveiled multi-use development made up of K11 MUSEA—the world’s first cultural-retail destination; luxury residence K11 ARTUS; K11 Atelier—first office building to introduce the Vertical Creative City concept; Rosewood Hotel, and a revamped Avenue of Stars overlooking Victoria Harbour and the city’s stunning skyline.
TEXT: Camilla Russell
IMAGES: Courtesy of K11 MUSEA
Art inspires a dialogue, and for some, the purpose of art is to bring people together. Founder of K11 Group Adrian Cheng’s vision for Victoria Dockside was to turn this ideology into a reality—for public art inspires amongst people an appreciation for beauty and creative thinking. Within K11 MUSEA alone there are over 40 public and site-specific artworks that let visitors immerse themselves directly within a colorful array of creative voices who are all influential in the contemporary art world.
Cheng’s mission is to bring art to the community. He strives to bridge the gap between art and retail, traveling all over the world to meet with artists in person and share his vision with them on creating an artistic community in Hong Kong. During the 10 years it took to transform Victoria Dockside into an art and cultural destination, there was an in-depth selection process to ensure the artworks chosen for K11 MUSEA, and the subsequent immediate surroundings, best-represented Hong Kong’s dynamic cultural identity.
Key artworks include the Asia debuts of Austrian artist Erwin Wurm’s cheeky sculpture and hot dog serving kiosk Hot Dog Bus (2018), German artist Katharina Grosse’s untitled spray-painted vibrant outdoor sculpture, as well Parrots of Five Colors (2018) by Zhang Enli and Hong Kong artist Samson Young’s Big Big Company (Mini Golf) (2019)—which was specially commissioned for the space . All the artwork installations were hand curated by Cheng to ensure they are complimentary to the public spaces in which they inhabit.
Set against the glistening harbour, with the Avenue of Stars to one side and the entrance to K11 MUSEA to its other side, Grosse’s colorful acrylic spray-painted sculpture marks the debut of Grosse’s work in Hong Kong. Cheng saw the artist’s exhibition back in 2015 during the Venice Biennale, and decided to bring her artworks (and the artist) to China. He organized two exhibitions, namely in Guangzhou and Shanghai, and commissioned the artist to create site-specific installations on both occasions. Occupying the spaces between architecture and fine art, her artworks explore how to create two-dimensional paintings, but within a three-dimensional framework, thereby challenging the idea of traditional painting in sculptural form. Untitled (2012) invites people to interact with the environment in an aesthetical way. In this way, the creative ideology driving Grosse’s sculpture matches Cheng’s personal philosophy and vision for Victoria Dockside’s public artworks.
Cheng’s vision places strong emphasis on the importance of creating a lifestyle that is rich with art and culture. Exemplary of this is Wurm’s Hot Dog Bus, which is an interactive public installation that brings together gastronomy with artistic expression. As the title says it is a bright yellow bus where visitors can buy hot dogs to enjoy. A playful way to invite people together, Wurm’s art piece educates the public while satisfying their hunger. There is a fine line between creative expression and commercial production, and contemporary art continues to shine light upon this relationship.
Inside K11 MUSEA, Zhang’s and Young’s installation works pay homage to aspects deeply rooted in Asian culture, notably the importance of community and family. Both artworks reflect Cheng’s goal to bring art to the public in a comfortable environment where people can see the art without being intimidated. Zhang’s Parrots of Five Colors and Young’s Big Big Company (Mini Golf) require human interaction for the artworks to be fully understood and appreciated. The former is a conceptual garden where five parrots representing the five elements gaze calmly down at people walking past. A sofa is placed beneath inviting visitors to relax and unwind. Parrots of Five Colors asks the public to slow down and appreciate their surroundings. Meanwhile Big Big Company (Mini Golf) is a mini golf garden filled with multimedia elements that will delight everybody’s inner child. Both meditative works of art, these site specific installations provide a space for the community to come rest amidst the urban din.
By establishing Victoria Dockside as a leader in the museum retail model, Cheng draws attention to the responsibility that public artworks have upon urban landscapes and city development. There is a certain elegance and challenge inherent in placing artworks within an outdoor environment; an artwork that is deemed too imposing may distract from the natural surroundings, while at other times, an artwork not suited for such large, open spaces may just as easily become lost amongst the architecture.
The public artworks that have been curated for K11 MUSEA and Victoria Dockside are chosen to aesthetically compliment the space, as well as to build up a dialogue with the community to question and appreciate the works of art around them. Without a community there would be no public art—this is a relationship that celebrates human interaction and creativity, as well as identifies wholeheartedly with it. Taking the lead in the concept of cultural-retail, Victoria Dockside is set to become a platform for world-renowned and emerging artistic talents and cutting-edge design by breaking the boundaries between contemporary art and commerce.