In May, all they talk about is the art fairs, but here is a portion of art exhibitions that you can visit before the madness and hustle of the art week will happen. So you can see this selection as a sort of hors d’oeuvre, or as an art warm-up, or perhaps just as a chance to enjoy something while not in a rush.
Colours of Congo: Patterns, Symbols and Narratives in 20th-Century Congolese Paintings
Why: If you have recently talked with me for more than 10 minutes you probably already know about this exhibition—yes, I can be rather persistent—but this show is a unique opportunity to see art from a time and region we rarely have a chance to see. I can hardly imagine the enormous amount of collaborative work with the archives and art collections that had to be done to curate this generous selection of works by Congolese artists from the mid-1920s to the 1960s. The whole history of The Belgian Congo is a tough topic, nevertheless I truly appreciate an opportunity to see and hear the voices of different generations of artists from the country.
Where: University Museum and Art Gallery, The Hong Kong University, 90 Bonham Road, Pok Fu Lam When: 23 February – 29 August 2021 (yes, it’s a long showcase, but don’t waste your time, go see it now)
(Art)Work from Home
Why: When I hear people saying something like “but we don’t have interesting artists here in Hong Kong!”, which usually goes in parallel with “but Hong Kong is a cultural desert!”, I always want to say “hold my clutch” and start writing a long list of exciting prominent, and aspiring local artists that I know about. This exhibition at Contemporary by Angela Li is showcasing works by emerging artists Hector Chan, Cheung Tsz Hin, Ling Pui Sze, and Mindy Lui Yan Yi, and you can appreciate the different approaches and techniques they are using. My personal favourite is the Non-functional Series – A Vacuum Cleaner: a painting of a vacuum cleaner later vacuumed by the same exact vacuum cleaner.
Where: Contemporary by Angela Li, 248 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan When: 13 March – 22 May 2021
Why: Mesmerising, magical, marvellous, mystical, and mind-blowingly meticulous. Using an old photography technique of cyanotype to receive the desirable result would be complicated enough—you need to get not only the colour but also the texture right—but then creating collages to form these striking mountain landscapes is adding a next level of complexity. The result can be seen as an evolution of traditional Chinese shan shui landscapes, or can be just stared at with awe. I did both, I love multitasking.
Where: Galerie du Monde, 108 Ruttonjee Centre, 11 Duddell Street, Central When: 24 March – 13 June 2021
Why: Well, honestly, I feel like this is missing one key element—smell. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really want to experience New York’s ’80s subway in its full glory. I just felt there was a missed opportunity for some niche perfume brand (Or a tiny dog, that would work as well). Nevertheless this (otherwise) immersive installation by Cope2 x Afa Annfa x Chino Lam is worth visiting, whether you’ve been to NYC or not. Sometimes nostalgia for what you have never experienced is a bit safer.
Where: Belowground, Basement, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central When: 17 March – 16 May 2021
Why: This selection of works from the 1960s through to the 2010s shows Whitten’s constant experimentation in all sorts of genres he was working in. He was exceptionally unique in that rather than just ignoring the boundaries of painting, he instead pushed them, whether it was using shards of paint, sculptural imprints, molten lead, cuttlefish ink, various natural pigments or allowing painting to escape the surface and become a three-dimensional object. Some of the works on display are from the famous Black Monolith Series, created as an homage and a tribute to black activists and artists.
Where: Hauser & Wirth, 16-17/F, H Queen’s, 80 Queen’s Road Central, Central When: 30 March – 31 July 2021