GalleriesGal Picks: Exhibitions in Hong Kong to see in January

CoBo Social Design and Architecture

It’s a bit weird to write about art exhibitions while still being in the holiday mood. It feels like an untimely reminder that the end and the beginning of the year are actually right next to each other. But I am dangerously close to being philosophical and who needs that in the beginning of January? So, for future versions of you and me the year has just started, December is a vague memory of fun and food comas, let’s see what there is for us to experience now.



A.A. Murakami: A Thousand Layers of Stomach

Why: This one is not easy to understand right off the bat. This one makes me unnecessarily verbose. But bear with me, I have a point. I feel that works by A.A. Murakami (also known as Studio Swine which stands for Super Wide Interdisciplinary New Explorers…because artists love making your life easy) are so heavily conceptual that the actual art part of their practice can easily be hidden behind architectural, social, ecological, environmental, and technological research. There’s a beauty in making something digitally native and organically simulated, the elegance in the process of imitating nature with man-made materials, and using the organic to create the artificial. I feel like the art making process is rhyming with digestion—don’t worry, I will not continue with this metaphor to the end—a thousand layers of metaphorical stomach lining are participating in breaking up the whole into parts and bits, making them absorbable and reusable for building new structures.

Or maybe I am just hungry and want mushroom soup.

When: 9 December — 12 February
: Pearl Lam Galleries, 6/F, Pedder Building, Central



Shinpei Kusanagi: A View From A Platform

Why: I have to be frank here—I have almost passed by these paintings because they require a little more time and attention to truly see them. 

Stains accompanied by thick almost accidental brushstrokes create works that are balancing on the edge of a recognisable landscape, and the pure, abstract in-between state, where you feel more than you see.

As always—I truly wish the space was bigger to fit more works.

When: 10 December — 30 January
: SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery, G/F, Bo Fung Mansion, 1 St. Francis Yard, Wan Chai



Let’s Try Catching Steam with Bare Hands

Why: A show not to be missed especially if you keep repeating that there’re no good artists in Hong Kong—yes, I won’t lose any chance to pour my vitriol.

Thorough exploration seems to me like one of the main characteristics of Hong Kong art. And whether it is a never-ending journey of a lonely together couple, a search for the origins of the figure from the Blue Girl Beer, or a meticulous documentation and reconstruction of Hong Kong public pools—these artworks seem nostalgic, ambiguous, and flux as steam, slipping through your fingers but still a powerful source of energy, if used correctly.

When: 11 December — 29 January
: Gallery Exit, 3/F, 25 Hing Wo Street, Tin Wan, Aberdeen



Zao Wou-Ki: The Eternal Return to China

Why: We see, or to be more precise have been made to see, Zao Wou-Ki as a French abstract painter of Chinese descent, but this is a chance to perceive him as a truly Chinese artist. So, enter the red gates, step on the footpath, immerse yourself into the carefully created atmosphere and let yourself harness a fresh appreciation for the master. Since it’s by appointment only, you won’t be left without additional information about exact and well researched influences from traditional Chinese paintings, landscapes, bronzes, and scripts.

When: 1 December — 22 May
: Villepin, 53-55 Hollywood Road, Central



Recovery, Resilience, Resurgence

Why: Could there be a better place to show old Hong Kong photos than the heritage building of Asia Society? I sincerely love that place, so I am biased and absolutely not objective. In our pandemic times this exhibition is a good chance to remember how Hong Kong managed to recover from hardships and reinvent itself in a changing postwar world, how it was adjusting to changes and the times, how resilient and strong it was, and still is.

I strongly recommend or even urge you to take a guided tour to see the whole perspective and visual rhymes of the exhibition. Spend some time and try to see how Hedda Morrison, Lee Fook Chee and Brian Brake have seen this city and its people. Also try to guess some of the locations, why don’t you?

 (Photos courtesy of Asia Society Hong Kong Center.
Copyright 2021: President and Fellows of Harvard College; Copyright 2021: Wai-man Lau)

When: 14 December — 6 March
Asia Society Hong Kong Center, 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty



Stephanie Teng: 8 Minutes From The Sun

Why: This exhibition is a philosophical and poetic performance expressed in photo making. Because taking a mirror to your happy places to let yourself metaphorically reflect on the present and past, while seeing the mirror literally reflecting the surrounding present that is immediately changing into the past, is pure philosophy. And catching the magic golden light, always eight minutes later than it was released from the surface of the Sun, is utterly poetic.

As that mirror covered with black paint is holding within it the history of each of those reflected scenes, each photograph captured and preserved one of those moments. The whole gallery space is turned into a breathing glowing installation, aiming to re-create the feel of those minutes. Don’t even look at my photos, go experience it for yourself.

When: 22 December — 22 January
: Square Street Gallery, 21 Square Street, Sheung Wan




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