After discussing a lot on Hong Kong’s artists and creative scene, let’s turn to a more sensitive side of our local concerns – relationship with the mainland.
Art One in wanchai is now holding “One Country, Two Creations”. Hong Kong has been under British rule for a hundred years, making it to have undergone a different rule and culture from the mainland. How different will artists work and how different their subject matters will be?
While as mentioned, Hong Kong artists focus more on the dislocation and their uneasiness of their identity and fleeting sense of location, mainland artists are exploring the decadence the new wealth mainland has found, together with their reflection on the Communist Party’s rule – they are especially fond of using the military uniform as well as red. They express their different rules – both indulgence in the decadence as well as the cheerful irony of disillusioned sweet dreams.
There is an obvious and uneasy gap between the subject matter and style of the artists – it might be curated in this way by intention though. Yet, how will this gap be bridged? Will it be bridged? Will either side have to surrender their identity to urge this bridging of the cultural gap?
The Hong Kong Art School is not only known as the only locally funded art institute that provides Fine Arts Degrees in Hong Kong, but its architecture is also known for its special design – it even won an international award.
Situated in Wanchai, HKAS is located in the busiest part of the city. Students here strive to create art to represent and discover local identity.
In-house tours are available regularly for those who want to know more about the spectacular architecture and the artworks that are placed in interesting display places.
The HKAS has lately added a new gallery – more for the eye for art to see!
After the post on Fo Tan’s industrial-building-turned-art-workshop successful turnover, friends are getting more interested in the different spaces in Hong Kong that enable artists to form their own platform for exchange and communication and most importantly, an intimate space for creating art.
Another industrial building that has converted to an interesting art space will be JCCAC located in Shek Kip Mei. Its ambiance promotes a tranquil and nurturing environment for people to explore their own artistic ventures.
Regular exhibitions (now currently the renowned city-themed exhibition “Escape”) are available as well as special themed displays are available for the public to see all year round – it never leaves you with the same impression.
Such spaces, however are still considered expensive and rare. Lucky to have the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s subsistence, JCCAC is one of the representative creative spaces we can find in Hong Kong.
Though an ideal and quiet place for art development, there is still quite a distance before creative spaces in Hong Kong can jump out from its reclusive aura to meet the general public and interact with them.
The Quintessential Vision: Transformation of Ink Landscape in Hong Kong
In Grotto Hong Kong’s exhibition, not only did the artists express their personal thoughts but also their paintings link up in showing Hong Kong as a rapid developing city.
Especially this work which depicts the repetitive lives of Hong Kong people in a routine, uncontrollable by themselves and pushed forward mercilessly by time.
The sea is always being compared to as a city – the noise and busy life engulfs and drowns one, overpowering the voice in one’s heart. Who can stay aloof and clear-minded in such a crowded and mass-directed place?
Fantasy or even techno-inspired themes are added to the traditional landscape compositions and subjects. It is interesting to see how new technology can re-depict and also enhance the past feelings and giving them a new life by re-appropriating it in a new context of ours.
Ink Landscape has a long tradition in China – how is it passed down to contemporary Hong Kong art?
Living in the city, we might not be living among the tall and stark mountains or the winding rivers. Yet, this doesn’t mean that Hong Kong artist cannot appreciate or create Ink Landscape that can compare with the old masters.
Grotto Hong Kong has brought to us works of contemporary Hong Kong artists that showcase this spirit of the traditional ink painting in a modern context.
Instead of purely painting a real scene, the classic techniques are used to depict a more abstract scene to depict the landscape of the inner mind.
The compositions are inspired by the traditional ink paintings – vertical ones for a more motion intense feeling and horizontal ones for a more serene and expanding sensation.
The limitation of colours close to monotone is also a nostalgic technique to give more room for inspiration.
Yet there are also contemporary twists like adding strong bolts of colours for extra emotional enforcement!
Why is landscape an important topic in Hong Kong contemporary art?
Hone Kong people are entrapped in a crowded environment which is also the platform for West and East cultures to meet. And not to forget – Hong Kong is located at the edge of China – with its cultures and ideals conflicting and interplaying in between. We have a consistently fleeting sense of identity and space and therefore, looking into landscape art by Hong Kong artists, we might get to understand more about our fears and anticipations about the city.
“Cityscape” is a joint exhibition by Arthur Chan and Otto Li. In the exhibition, two local artists will present their latest sculpture series, hence creating a hidden unique characteristic of the urban environment in Hong Kong via deconstruction of the cityscape.
Arthur Chan’s sculpture installation titled “Of Edging Space 2” explores to create a new of visual interpretations of our city. The “negative components” of the city, as defined by the artist which include streets, lanes and open spaces, are expressed in a unique series of pictorial images and hence recomposed into three-dimensional installation. This reflects a deconstruction process of the city’s phenomenon, eventually generating a brand-new perception of “Space” in a stunningly poetic way. By capturing the mood of the city we live in and the spirit of our daily lives, Otto Li attempted to illustrate the “background music” of the Wan Chai region, during which he recorded short clips of sound in the region. He then changed the form of soundwave in three frames per second and reconstructed this data with pixel blocks. By this way, intangible sound has been translated into a three-dimensional touchable sculpture – which the artist describes as a “Soundscape”.
So, if pop art and contemporary art are meant for the public, is graffiti art pure vandalism or the most sincere form of art?
The Landscape Series blog posts now starts off with showing the street art we see around Hong Kong.
The most famous example will be the “King of Kowloon” – Mr. Tsang’s authentic style of “graffiti” – Chinese Ink writing on walls. He mysteriously insists that his family is from an ancestral line of emperors and he uses his words to express it all over Hong Kong. It was first considered as a vandalism act, but now after a decade it has become an important collective memory and even sold as an art on commodities in local lifestyle and design store – G.O.D.
Drawing on “official” walls and altering “official meanings” by the government shows the individual’s thoughts rebelling and breaking through – it becomes an important act of not succumbing to any power.
Aiweiwei graffiti becomes popular after his imprisonment and disappearance which is a great threat to the freedom of expression.
The notion “you cannot kill all of us” depicted through graffiti art is a creepy yet strong enforcement where no matter how many walls built or how entrapments of the city walls in Hong Kong try to limit us, alternative voices are always present and peek through to haunt those who only believe in the dominant voice.
Takahashi Murakami makes fun of his own book – “Only 10 people might read my book seriously, and perhaps only 4 will finished the whole book.”
Writing about the business of art as well as tips for how can young artists become successful in their career, this book is not only a challenging read – where you have to do research on the artists or art he mentioned and understand the current situation of contemporary art, but is also a rewarding treasure.
The title illustrates it well – Geijutsu Tosoron (or “Art in Battle”)– Art always puts itself in an ironic position to challenge the social norms. Some might do it by breaking the rules and inventing their own. But, in a more perverse and higher level poise, Murakami plays with the rules and norms by pushing them to a cheerful yet uncanny extreme – showing the disastrous development of human society.
Jean Baudrillard – The Conspiracy of Art
When it comes to post-modern theories, Baudrillard would be the one to turn to. Amoral and acute with the language he uses, Baudrillard speaks to us about our current situation, as the era where we see art becoming a true commodity of desire. He discusses why art has the value of sky-rocketing prices as well as the “conspiracy” behind this creation of illusions.
Not only discussing this controversial issue of fine art, he links his discussion with more modern means of multimedia art – television, film, virtual concepts. He has the special ability to use vivid language to visualize a utopia/ dystopia we will possibly meet. He will definitely inspire readers to imagine art’s future development – hand in hand with technology.
The M+ museum has recently built a Cantonese Opera House – like appearance to recreate the glamour and glory of Cantonese Opera. This has not only attracted the elderly who can watch Cantonese Opera, one of their favourite past times, all day round. But also, curious teenagers are also attracted by this new idea of renewing cultures through contemporary settings.
The Chinese Opera is screened on a wide screen inside the theatre – not your authentic operas we see in more traditional-styled Opera theatres.
Information and history of the Cantonese Opera is available, ideal for people, especially the younger generation, to understand this traditional culture.
Hong Kong has always been in a struggle to preserve its traditional cultures to seek for a local identity. Do you think that this museum/ display can revive this traditional art as well as give a deeper dimension to Hong Kong’s cultural sector?