GalleriesGal Picks: Exhibitions in Hong Kong to see in May

(Left) Vivian Maier, Untitled, Self-portrait, 1959. (Right) Vivian Maier, Self-portrait, 1954. © Estate of Vivian Maier; image courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York.
CoBo Social Design and Architecture

Aaaand it’s already been a year of my indefatigable (yeah, I love this word) recommendations and your patience and support. I wish I could be standing on a stage in a pretty dress with a long hem of at least three metres, sobbing in gratitude while clutching a shiny reward. Unfortunately, no matter how I feel inside it isn’t really a major achievement and neither CoBo Social nor the Hong Kong art scene give pretty glistening awards for decent achievements in art reporting. *long sad sigh*

Anyway, a girl can dream. It’s May and even though currently the art scene seems to be rather quiet while art week preparations are simmering away, there are still some things worth seeing before the fairs kick off. Most of them are in different parts of the city, but see it as an opportunity to have lunch in a new place.



Daphné Mandel: Hong Kong Time Rift

 Why: The long awaited big solo show of Daphné Mandel, a French artist who knows Hong Kong from a side that most of us aren’t aware of. Long time abandoned places all over the city, where personal stories are lost and faded away with only trace hints left behind. Witnessing, documenting, leaving only footprints, taking only photos, and then reimagining, preserving and giving them new life.

Come and see eerie empty villages, where nature is taking its lands back. Come and look at cabinets of curiosities, where whimsical and eccentric objects sit alongside nostalgic Hong Kong items. Come and observe the real/surreal Hong Kong.

When: 30 April – 28 May
Where: Gallery Exit, 3/F, 25 Hing Wo Street, Tin Wan



Kong Chun Hei: Off Beat

Why: I love conceptual art for the mental effort required to respond to it. It’s like theatre vs. movies. A lot of details are omitted or are nominal, and you have to add them to enrich the scene and add emotional texture. Sometimes the opposite is true and you have to restore or recreate the full-scale picture from just a tiny bit. Where else can you use your deduction skills and practice the rejection of the existence of universal rules of logic if not in a place named after a philosopher?

(Oh, the number of times I accidentally referred to this independent art space by the name of Feuerbach, who is a completely different philosopher; I would like to see it as an example of highly conceptual and abstract thought process and not the laziness of my brain, but alas).

By appointment only.

When: 1 April – 14 May
Where: Feyerabend, Tai Kok Tsui


(Left) Vivian Maier, Untitled, Self-portrait, 1959. (Right) Vivian Maier, Self-portrait, 1954. © Estate of Vivian Maier; image courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York.


Vivian Maier: Self Portraits

Why: Probably the most mysterious figure in the history of photography. Just a nanny with a good eye and a perfect sense of the moment and composition, whose photos were never seen during her lifetime but were discovered at a small thrifty auction house—a movie-worthy plot twist. Or was she “just a nanny”? Unapologetic, eccentric, and extremely private, Maier was highly intellectual and a well-travelled woman. Her photographs are not just snaps of everyday life she observed on her walks around the city and during her travels, they look like scenes from unrealised movies. I feel the same about her self-portraits: it’s impossible not to make up some plots and stories about her, trying to guess what type of person she was and the thoughts and feelings she was had.

When: 4 May – 31 August
Where: f22 foto space, Shops BW11&13, The Peninsula Hotel, Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui



Ibrahim Mahama: Half of a Yellow Sun

Why: Made almost 10 years ago and revisited recently, these works are rooted in colonial and post-colonial African history, identity, and community relationships. “Dutch wax” cloth was made for the European market but after not being able to compete, those fabrics found another audience. The process of getting these exact pieces was similar to the one Mahama used for his famous burlap sacks: persuading members of the community to exchange old and used pieces—so the history they contain would be preserved in the new ones. Apart from holding numerous layers of stories behind the prints and the history of each type of fabric, these patterns and colours are a gorgeous feast for the eyes.

When: 8 April – 14 May
Where: White Cube, 50 Connaught Road, Central



Chi Wing Lo: Angels From Infinity

Why: Works by Hong Kong-born architect (you can clearly see they are made by an architect, can’t you?) that are sure to provoke your imagination. They remind me of futuristic buildings or flying steampunk vessels from a Studio Ghibli movie, but at the same time their organic form makes them akin to leaves, birds, or fish. Polished wood and brass resemble whimsical musical instruments, but if you look through the tiny aperture you’ll see austere and grand interiors with a strong Nordic flavour. What I love most is that there are no correct answers—they are made ambiguous and purposeless, so free your imagination.

By appointment only.

When: 30 April – 30 June
Where: Kwai Fung Salone, Shop 03-G07, G/F, Barrack Block, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central



emo gym

Why: Well, first of all, go see both of the shows: “emo gym” and “Double Vision” (and I would cunningly suggest to go see “Double Vision” twice because it will totally make sense). But since I can’t fit two very different exhibitions into one paragraphs—I chose to write about only one, “emo gym”. So flex your emotional muscles, prepare for self-soothing repetitions, and accept the challenge—as did the artists. Experiencing the fragility of human condition and embracing it is difficult and even exhausting, but unlike the physical gym situation there are no norms and standard achievements. There’s no coach to cheer you on, no gym buddy to motivate you, and a selfie from an emo gym will probably not get a lot of likes on IG. But since our physical bodies are so connected to our mental and emotional states, we can still live through a lot of experiences, hopefully to learn and gain from them, widen our range of emotional reactions, and strengthen our state of mind.

Just don’t forget to stretch after the workout.

When: 21 April – 19 June
Where: JC Contemporary, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central



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