Published on ocula.com, 5 March, 2015
Remember that time Hong Kong was known only for its banking, pinky-ring-wearing English expats mourning the loss of the ol’ empire, overpriced real estate, and the number of Louis Vuitton shops crammed into one block? Well, some things have changed. The property market is still criminal, and making money is still number one national pastime, but our cultural activities calendar has gotten a lot more interesting. With Art Basel HK in its third edition this year, Hong Kong will be overrun by the art world for a week. And there’s a lot to see and do. Prepare your liver, and dust off your ‘isms!
Tuesday, 10 March
For those in town ahead of the Friday ABHK VIP opening, the week will kick off with an exhibition presented by MadeIn Company for Xu Zhen on Tuesday 10 March. The exhibition will be accompanied by a talk by every gallerist’s favourite collector, the founder of K11 Art Foundation, Adrian Cheng and David Chau (founder of Shanghai’s newest fair, Art021). Also happening on Tuesday (from midday, no less), Pearl Lam will be hosting her launch party for her new space in Sheung Wan dedicated to emerging talents: first up is the artist Ren Ri, a Beijing artist who manipulates the movement of bees to create a series of hybrid sculptures. Let’s hope it lives up to its buzz…
Wednesday, 11 March
On Wednesday Cheng’s K11 Art Foundation, in collaboration with Paris’ Palais de Tokyo, will open Inside China, an exhibition featuring 11 Chinese and French artists, initially unveiled last year at the Palais de Tokyo. The preview will be followed by K11’s expected annual Art Basel opening party, held at a pop up space in Sheung Wan instead of the Grand Hyatt poolside (it wasn’t Shoreditch House; nobody was jumping into the pool anyway, clothed or unclothed).
Thursday, 12 March
The yearly mass pilgrimage to the Pedder Building for its ABHK exhibition openings kicks off on Thursday 12 March. Galleries bring out a line-up of stellar international shows without the usual predictability, so Pedder-philes will be tickled pink this week. Simon Lee Gallery will be showing a much anticipated solo exhibition by one of the Arte Povera founders, Michelangelo Pistoletto; American photographer Alex Prager will be showing for the first time in Hong Kong at Lehmann Maupin; Rudolf Stingel at Gagosian is a must see! Get there early to avoid the snaking queues and the interminably long and schvitzy wait for elevators.
A little walk up the road to Connaught Road where White Cube will be showing Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes for the first time in Hong Kong; and Galerie Perrotin will again be featuring of-the-moment street artist and TED prize recipient, JR and Berlin based Gregor Hildebrandt.
Settled into a new more spacious location on Des Voeux Road, Edouard Malingue Gallery will be presenting works by installation artist Wang Wei, transforming the gallery space into a zoo. And if you fancy a walk to Exchange Square, where a permanent sculpture by Henry Moore can be found, pop into The Rotunda to check out Zhu Jinshi’s 18 metre walk-in installation, ‘Boat’, for Pearl Lam Gallery.
Following the previews, Duddell’s will be kicking off their group show Hongkongese in collaboration with ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) director Gregor Muir, and co-curated by Alia Al-Sennusi and Abdullah Alturki. This is Duddell’s second exhibition with a leading international art institution since their show last year with Phil Tinari, director of UCCA. The show features works by artists Shinro Ohtake, Dexter Dalwood, Korakrit Arunanondchai and Florian Maier-Aichen as well as a special loan from M+. Speaking of M+, the as yet still not built Museum of Visual Culture will be hosting a reception and preview Thursday evening for its Mobile M+: Moving Images, so hop on a train or in a cab and head over to Soundwill Plaza in Causeway Bay (you’ll encounter a horde of humanity, so brace yourself).
Friday, 13 March
Friday sees the third Hong Kong edition of Art Basel kick off with VIPs swelling through the doors. This has become one of several Hong Kong de rigeur social events. Time to get dolled up looking your artiest (without looking like you tried to get dolled up—that’s art in itself); bring out that weird architectural Margiela strait jacket (like you rock it everyday) and rub shoulders with the art world gliterrati. You may even notice the art in between spotting Kate Moss, Takashi Murakami, Dasha Zhukova, and perhaps even Cicciolina in all her glory (captured by Koons of course).
Tim Etchells, Sandy Angus and Will Ramsey launch their new art fair, Art Central, which also opens to VIPs on Friday, as if navigating one fair isn’t nightmare enough for a Friday, the 13th. A satellite fair to the main event, this will be worth a look into.
Has art world preview wine got you wishing for an emergency vodka hip flask? Fear not, walk to the Grand Hyatt Pool house and what do we have? Dita Von Teese! Cigars! No, it’s not ‘The White House: A Cabaret’. This year Davidoff is presenting a titillating performance by the queen of burlesque herself to celebrate the brand’s new art residency in the Dominican Republic. Of course. And Von Teese will be employing a giant cigar for her routine instead of the signature oversized martini glass. Just kidding, but the mind boggles…
Later in the night, for those who like to go off the beaten track, and want something suitably Friday the 13th as well as a little respite from the art world, check out Swedish metal-core band Adept playing at Hong Kong’s underground music venue, Hidden Agenda. Bring a neck brace. If a bit of Hong Kong nightlife is what you are after but you don’t feel like bouncing up and down clutching a champagne bottle stuffed full of sparklers while fending off 19 year old Latvian models asking you the colour of your AMEX, then head to Fly or Volar which will both have DJs spinning until the early hours. Fly, in collaboration with Above Second Gallery, will also be unveiling a mural by two-man LA based art collective, CYRCLE.
Saturday and Sunday, 14 and 15 March
For a taste of the local art scene, do not miss Fotanian Open Studios, which takes you through a warren of local artists’ and designers’ studios spread across several industrial buildings in Fotan. Do as the locals do and snack on milk tea and noodles at one of the area’s several dai pai dongs.
If you want more than just big name artists, and are up for new discoveries from local galleries and institutions, Osage Gallery will be presenting a group exhibition of works by Romanian artists and South East Asian artists, in collaboration with Lombard Freid Gallery. Gallery Exit is also worth visiting in Aberdeen, and nothing like fine art followed by wading through fish guts at the local fish market near-by (sort of reminds me of Basel in Miami and the after midnight antics).
Hong Kong’s oldest non-profit art space, Para/Site, recently relocated to a brighter and bigger white cube in North Point, will also be presenting a group show. Titled 100 Years of Shame: Songs of Resistance and Scenarios for Chinese Nations, the exhibition will feature artists from Hong Kong, Taiwan, mainland China and beyond, examining the disobedient intellectual spirit under the current social and ideological conditions in the region. Something to mull over post Occupy Central. The exhibition will be on until 10 May so put this in your calendar. And if you are wanting for more of that revolutionary feel, then also make sure you catch Kacey Wong’s exhibition at AJC in Shin Hing Street, one of the most picturesque streets in Sheung Wan and nearby Angela Li’s space, which is further down Hollywood Road.
Connecting Spaces, an initiative by Zurich University of Arts and various Hong Kong institutions, will curate Methods of Art, a group show of ten Hong Kong and Chinese artists work in their North Point space featuring works by Angela Su, Ellen Pau, Kit Hung.
On Saturday 14 March Chai Wan’s creative set are getting together again for their annual Chai Wan Mei Art & Design Festival taking place over two days, Saturday 14 March 11am-9pm and Sunday 15 March 11-am 7pm. Hop on a shuttle bus from the exhibition centre and make your way to this creative industrial outpost teeming with studios, galleries, and bookshops.
You should also get to that other artistic outcrop, Wong Chuk Hang. Hidden in the industrial buildings are gems such as Mimi Brown’s non-profit Spring Workshop which will be showing, Days Push off into Nights, featuring artists Olga Chernysheva, Elmgreen and Dragset, Lee Kit, and Jewyo Rhii. Meg Maggio’s Pekin Fine Arts will also be showing sculptural works by Arik Levy, and while you’re in that neck of the woods, pop into Rossi & Rossi too.
After a long day battling the weekend hordes of children and their frantic parents at Art Basel, kick off your shoes and let your hair down with Brit electronica duo Basement Jaxx at the invite-only party for French street artist, JR, hosted by new non-profit art organization, HOCA (Hong Kong Contemporary Art Foundation) in Repulse Bay. This should inject a bit of a Miami Beach party feel to this fragrant harbour (minus the sultry weather and twerking in a thong). The organization will also be presenting a large scale exhibition of the artist, titled JR: A Survey Exhibition at The Ocean, in the same complex where the party is taking place, and will also include JR’s photo-booth for public participation. Selfie your selfie! How meta is that!
And for the cool kids who want to continue dancing the night away and seeing how many Absolut vodka cocktails can be downed in the time it takes to beat Bob Hawke’s yardglass record, Chai Wan Mei will be hosting another one of its much anticipated parties. Last year’s garage dance party featured a performance by Ryan McNamara; a vodka stocked bar manned by the Chai Wan Mei team of curators, designers and artists; and some dubious paroxysmal dance moves involving invisible laser beams by several art lovers seemingly dressed for the rugby sevens. This year presents an exciting line up of live acts from China with European DJs including Queen Sea Big Shark, Preservation, and Awesome Tape from Africa. Hong Kong’s MAP Office will helm the artistic direction converting the industrial space into a performative and music platform made from recycled material and also featured will be a large neon artwork by Rirkrit Tiravanija and a performance by Didier Faustino. The party is by invitation only or access with Art Basel VIP and RSVP is a must!
After a late morning coffee on Sunday morning at Fuel in Landmark or IFC (sterile and awfully corporate, but one of the few places serving good coffee—although that is changing thanks to some Antipodian influence in this scene), amble over to The Photobook Fair taking place down the road from ABHK at the Hong Kong Art Centre. Given Hong Kong’s tendency to close down bookshops faster than it can replace them with new luxury shops, this is a great opportunity to snap up some beautiful art and photography coffee table books.
And finally, to exercise the ol’ grey matter after a week of abusing it with warm champagne (or to rest it if you made it to all those exceptional talks organised by Asia Art Archive), make sure you’ve booked your ticket to the annual Intelligence Squared art debate. This year’s topic, ‘The Art World is a Boy’s Club’, will be moderated by Guggenheim curator Alexandra Munroe, and feature panelists Frances Morris from the Tate, and Artforum publisher, Charles Guarino. Bound to leave the room divided, this one.