The Lowdown: shows to see during Hong Kong Art Week

Published on Ocula, 23 March 2018

Jim Lambie, Spiral Scratch (2018). Installation view: Pacific Place, Hong Kong (19 March–8 April 2018). Courtesy Swire Properties.

Once again, the Hong Kong art machine is gearing up for Art Basel in Hong Kong (29–31 March 2018), now in its sixth edition. With surrounding art fairs like Art Central (27 March–1 April) opening alongside the main event, and an ever-expanding list of exhibitions and happenings taking place, here is a selection of things to see during the week.


George Condo: Expanded Portrait Compositions
Hong Kong Maritime Museum
27 March–6 April 2018

He’s assaulted public decency with a cartoon album cover for Kanye West that resulted in parental advisory stickers, and a 2006 portrait of Queen Elizabeth that was described as ‘a long-necked, gerbil-cheeked, crown-wearing cabbage patch doll.’ George Condo draws on numerous art historical traditions, techniques, and genres; throwing Old Master paintings into the blender with references to cubism and contemporary American pop culture. Condo’s first solo exhibition in the city, Expanded Portrait Compositions, is co-organised by Skarstedt and Sprüth Magers; a brand-new body of eight paintings and five works on paper have been created specifically for the Maritime Museum. Condo-mania extends to Sotheby’s with Face-Off: Picasso / Condo, a selling exhibition of portrait works by Picasso and Condo, on view until 31 March.


George Condo, Brainscape (2018). Acrylic, metallic paint, pigment stick, charcoal and pastel on linen. 203.2 x 188.24 cm. © George Condo / ARS (Artists Rights Society), New York, 2018. Courtesy the artist, Skarstedt and Sprüth Magers.


Emerald City

K11 Art Foundation Pop-up Space, Cosco Tower
28 March–22 April 2018

K11 Chi Art Space, New World Tower
28 March–31 May 2018

K11 Art Foundation will present a group exhibition of approximately 40 artworks exploring geometry and its pervasive influence in cultural output and social constructs, in its two spaces in the city’s central business district. Highlighted are works by artists including Ashley Bickerton and Peter Halley made in the 1980s and 1990s as part of the Neo-Geometric Conceptualism (‘neo-geo’) movement in the US, which sought to use geometric logic as a metaphor for the metaphysical fine line between art and commodity. A series of newly commissioned pieces by artists Oscar Chan Yik Long, Zhang Ruyi and Nik Kosmas will also be presented.


Ashley Bickerton, Seascape—Floating Ocean Chunk No. 1 (2017). Resin, fibreglass, oil paint, enamel, aluminium and plywood. 144.8 × 188 × 53.3 cm. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin.



H Queen’s, designed by Hong Kong architect and art collector, William Lim, and completed last year, now houses several international galleries including Hauser & Wirth, Pace Gallery, Galerie Ora-Ora, David Zwirner Gallery and—oddly—the soon-to-be-launched Major League Baseball flagship store, which will temporarily share the complex’s ground floor with a pop-up exhibition of 13 Christopher Wool paintings and works on paper from 1987 to 2016, presented by the Hill Art Foundation and Alex Errera (28 March–8 April).

Mark Bradford
Hauser & Wirth
27 March–12 May 2018

Bradford has given abstract expressionism a new lease of life with paintings that often pose uncomfortable questions. Made up of layers of salvaged billboards and advertising posters that are sandblasted and lacerated, Bradford’s collage paintings resemble textured topographical maps of the urban streetscape. Bradford represented the United States at the 2017 Venice Biennale with a ripped-up, dilapidated pavilion that rather aptly summed up the political and social state of affairs back in the US, commenting on slavery, police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement.


Mark Bradford, How much do your stones weigh lady? (2018). Mixed media on canvas. 182.9 x 243.8 cm. © Mark Bradford. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Joshua White.


Wolfgang Tillmans
David Zwirner
26 March–12 May 2018

Zwirner will be featuring a collection of works by German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans, with an appearance from the commodities broker who turned commerce into art and art into commerce, Jeff Koons. Koons will reportedly be presenting a two-tonne shiny inflatable bird at the gallery’s Art Basel booth. Like narcissus to a pond, this work will no doubt prove a big attraction for self(ie) reflection. Following on from his 2017 Tate Modern survey, Tillmans will bring together old and new works from his three-decade career, across various genres, including natural landscapes, portraits, still lifes, abstract photos, and photographs of Hong Kong taken 20 years apart.


Wolfgang Tillmans, hand on ankle (2018). Inkjet print on paper. © Wolfgang Tillmans. Courtesy David Zwirner and Maureen Paley.


Yoshitomo Nara: Ceramic Works and…
Pace Gallery
27 March–12 May 2018

Pace Gallery will be kicking off celebrations for their new second Hong Kong space with an exhibition of ceramic sculptures, paintings and works on paper by Japanese neo-pop artist Yoshitomo Nara. Bridging high, low and kitsch art Nara’s signature graphic manga-inspired large-eyed little girls and dogs have inspired a cult following and dedicated collector base in Hong Kong. Long queues formed outside McDonald’s outlets when they released figurines of the cartoon dog in 1998, and even a set of limited edition Nara plates have fetched 18 times over their retail price at a 2016 Bonham’s auction.


Yoshitomo Nara, Head 1 (2018). Ceramic. 29.1 x 27 x 21.4cm. © Yoshitomo Nara. Courtesy Pace Gallery



Loie Hollowell: Switchback
Pace Gallery
26 March–31 May 2018

Works by 35-year-old New York artist Loie Hollowell, who creates vividly coloured bodily landscapes and sacred iconography from abstracted sexual body parts—in particular the female body—will be featured at Pace’s smaller Entertainment Building space located just a few blocks away. Reminiscent of Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings, the gallery’s presentation of Hollowell’s work at last year’s Frieze London sold out in less than 40 minutes with a waiting list for the works ensuing.

Loie Hollowell, Linked Lingam (purple, teal, yellow) (2018). Oil paint, acrylic medium, sawdust, and high density foam on linen mounted on panel. 71.1 x 52.1 x 5.1 cm. Courtesy Pace Gallery. Photo: Kerry Ryan McFate. © Loie Hollowell.

Antony Gormley: Rooting the Synapse
White Cube
27 March–19 May 2018

Gormley has certainly become a feature here over the years. He had a solo exhibition at White Cube’s Hong Kong space in 2014, and presented the public project ‘Event Horizon’ a year later, which saw 31 figurative sculptures (modelled on Gormley’s own body) installed at various locations around the city, including the roofs of skyscrapers and urban footpaths. Alongside his solo exhibition this March, Gormley will participate in Art Basel’s Conversations programme (29 March, 1–2pm) with Xavier Cha, Melati Suyardormo, and Donna Huanca. ‘Bodies in Practice: On Figures and Figuration’, moderated by Qinyi Lim, will reflect on the body’s representation across cultures and generations.


Antony Gormley, FEEL (2016). Cast iron. 191.5 x 196.6 x 30.6 cm. Courtesy White Cube. Photo: Stephen White. © Antony Gormley.



Doug Aitken
Massimo de Carlo
27 March–19 May 2018

American artist Doug Aitken will be having his first Asian solo exhibition at Massimo de Carlo with works created specifically for the show, including a large-scale stainless steel text installation spelling Future, which muses on the acceleration and fragmentation of contemporary society. Also included is Mirage, a video work that depicts different views of a site-specific installation set in the Southern California desert. The exhibition, which is intended to prompt thought-provoking self-reflexivity is part of Aitken’s ongoing investigation of communication in the 21st century and urban, globalised contemporary life.


Doug Aitken, Inside Me (2018). Clear mirror, aluminium, resin and concrete. 142.24 x 160.02 x 104.14 cm. Variation 1 of 4, with 2 AP. Courtesy the artist and 303 Gallery.


Gert and Uwe Tobias
Ben Brown Fine Arts
27 March–12 May 2018

Romanian–German twin brothers Gert and Uwe Tobias have been working together since 2001 creating colourful and fantastical geometric modernist handcrafted woodcut prints and paintings that fuse the folkloric (they are from Transylvania after all) with communist era and German post-war influences, as well as B-grade movies and typography. Using this collage of influences they blur the line between art and craft, decoration and abstraction. For their Hong Kong show, the artists will showcase several woodprint works, as well as a group of hand-painted ceramic vases of surreal hybrid creatures and eerie flora, and a series of intricately detailed, uncanny portraits in mixed media on paper.


Gert and Uwe Tobias, Untitled (2017). Coloured woodcut on canvas. 150 x 130 cm. Courtesy the artists and Ben Brown Fine Arts.


Inga Svala Thórsdóttir and Wu Shanzhuan: Quote! Quote! Quote!
Hanart TZ
22 March–3 May 2018

Thórsdóttir, a critically acclaimed Icelandic conceptualist and Wu, a leading artist in the pre-Tiananmen Square generation of Chinese Conceptualists, have been collaborating as artists since 1991. Together their symbiotic creative dialogue results in witty, deeply humanist and historically informed artworks ranging from installations and sculptures to photographs and works on paper, through which they examine the value of art and the meaning of its making. The exhibition will feature a selection of more than 290 works from 1986 to 2018, witnessing the artists’ transition over the years.


Exhibition leaflet for Inga Svala Thorsdottir & Wu Shanzhuan: Quote! Quote! Quote!, Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong (22 March–3 May 2018). Courtesy the artists.


Jennifer Guidi: Heliocentric
26 March–12 May 2018

Gagosian will be presenting a solo show from the latest ‘it’ artist, Californian Jennifer Giudi, whose decorative and ‘meditative’ sand-textured paintings in a palatable palette have become market trophies for career-defining collectors, hedge funders and tech yogis. After years of making realist paintings of flowers and trees, Guidi, who is married to bull-market artist, Mark Grotjahn, started experimenting with sand and acrylic, resulting in her inoffensive abstract mandala-like colour ‘fields’. In just a few years prices have reportedly shot up from USD 50,000 on the primary market to USD 500,000 on the secondary market. Pieces are notoriously difficult to get (and museums are reportedly getting first dibs on this show), but you can experience emptiness of the mind (instead of the bank account) at the Gagosian exhibition.


Jennifer Guidi, Worlds In Motion (Painted Light Blue Sand SF #1C, Blue-Orange Sky, Purple-Brown Mountain) (2017). Sand, acrylic and oil on linen. 104 x 88.8 cm. Courtesy the artist.



Asia Society presents LOVE Long: Robert Indiana and Asia (7 February–15 July 2018), an exhibition that places Robert Indiana’s explorations into words and images into conversation with eight artists and collectives from Asia—including Kutluğ Ataman, Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries, and Chim↑Pom—whose pieces presented here echo Indiana’s.

Meanwhile, more sculpture can be found a brisk walk from Asia Society at Garden Court in Pacific Place, where Jim Lambie will be presenting Spiral Scratch (19 March–8 April 2018), a vivid and interactive public installation of floor sculptures and brightly painted ladders in his largest floor installation to date.


Jim Lambie, Shaved Ice (2012). Wooden ladders, mirrors, household fluorescent paint. Dimensions variable. Installation view: Shaved Ice, The Modern Institute, Glasgow (23 November 2012–9 March 2013). Courtesy the artist and The Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd., Glasgow. Photo: Keith Hunter.


Harbour Arts Sculpture Park
Tamar Park
22 February–11 April 2018

More public sculpture in the area can be found at Tamar Park, where the Hong Kong Harbour Arts Sculpture Park, curated by Tim Marlow and Fumio Nanjo, presents a pedestrian’s theme park of installations, sculptures, and interventions by 19 artists, including Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley, Yayoi Kusama, Jenny Holzer, and Hong Kong artists Morgan Wong, Kacey Wong and Matthew Tsang.


Zhan Wang, 45 Degrees of Artificial Rock (2014). Stainless steel. 582 x 127 x 60 cm (rock); 33 x 125 x 125 cm (base). Installation view: Harbour Arts Sculpture Park 2018, Hong Kong (22 February–11 April 2018). Courtesy Harbour Arts Sculpture Park.



15 March–20 April 2018

Interest in African contemporary art has exploded in recent years, with endeavours like the 1-54 African Contemporary Art Fair offering a platform to present art from the continent to audiences in London and New York, while promoting the development of the African art market on the continent. With this in mind, V54—an organisation established by local charity Po Leung Kuk to promote youth arts and cultural development—presents Bridges, a group exhibition of contemporary African art curated by artist-in-resident Lee Garakara. The exhibition will present paintings and screenprints by three emerging artists: Tafadzwa Gwetai, Franklyn Dzingai and Anthony Bumhira.


Anthony Bumhira, The Dance of Life (2016). Acrylic on canvas. 110 x 110 cm. Courtesy Lee Garakara and the artist.


A beast, a God, and a line
Para Site
17 March–20 May 2018

Recently presented at the 2018 Dhaka Art Summit, A beast, a God, and a line is a dense exhibition, reflecting on contemporary cultural and political concerns through the work of over 50 artists, including Australian indigenous artist Daniel Boyd, Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Chai Siris, Jiun-Yang Li, Ampannee Satoh, and Simryn Gill. Curator Cosmin Costinas has woven together a number of topical threads, including the spread of politicised religion and the rising tide of populism, the fracture of the neo-liberal promise, and post-colonial anxieties. The exhibition also introduces the works of key modernist or late-modernist figures that have shaped the language of art during the past half-century in South Asia, including Rashid Choudhury and Mrinalini Mukherjee.


Jiun-Yang Li, Puppetry, The Lady Ghost (2004). Wood and textile. Courtesy the artist.



Xavier Cha: Ruthless Logic
Jes Fan: Mother is a Woman

Empty Gallery
27 March–2 June 2018

Empty Gallery opens two exhibitions this March. On the gallery’s upper floor is Xavier Cha’s Ruthless Logic, which presents a new moving image deconstruction of the martial arts fight scene genre produced at Hong Kong’s historic Shaw Studios. On the lower floor, a series of flesh-toned, fur-carpeted chambers constitute the backdrop to Jes Fan’s solo show Mother Is A Woman, where a series of works consider the materiality and biology of the body. To celebrate the opening of these two exhibitions, Empty Gallery is holding an all-night party on 30 March, starting with a London/Paris-based acoustic quartet Ahmed, followed by a night of leftfield dance music courtesy of DJs Cera Khin, Mumdance & Logos, and Rob Hall.


Xavier Cha, Ruthless Logic (still) (2018). Courtesy the artist and Empty Gallery, Hong Kong.



Manolo Millares—Antoni Tàpies: An Informal Step
de Sarthe Gallery
29 March–12 May 2018

de Sarthe Gallery will present a dual exhibition of post-war masters, Manolo Millares—Antoni Tàpies: An Informel Step. Both born in Spain, they are best known for their abstract assemblages and paintings. Both artists have important connections to the Art Informel movement, with Millares helping to form the avant-garde group ‘El Paso’ (The Step) in the mid-1950s (the Informalist collective was active until the 1960s), while Tàpies’ work actively engaged with the movement’s key characteristics leading him to create pioneering works through the incorporation of untraditional materials, such as dust, earth, and found objects.


Antoni Tàpies, Forats i Claus sobre blanc (1968). Mixed media on canvas. 60 x 73 cm. Courtesy the artist and de Sarthe Gallery.


Jiang Zhi: Going and Coming
27 March–12 May 2018

Curated by Leo Li Chen, Going and Coming consists of a four-channel video, paintings and selection of photographs by Chinese artist Jiang Zhi. The artist uses flowers as his primary subject matter to explore the themes of temporality and impermanence of life, weaving the personal into work that is placed at the intersection of poetry and politics.


Jiang Zhi, In the Wind (2016) (Still). Four-channel video. 3’05” / 2’58” / 2’31” / 7’33”. Edition of 6 + 2AP. Courtesy the artist and Blindspot Gallery.



Samson Young: Songs for Disaster Relief World Tour
M+ Pavilion, West Kowloon Cultural District
9 February–6 May 2018

Trained as a classical composer, with over a decade of practice, Venice alum Samson Young will be presenting two exhibitions during this year’s art week: Songs for Disaster Relief World Tour at M+, and Notating Beauty That Moves–Music at an Exhibition, which the artist co-curated with Yang Yeung at the new ArtisTree in Taikoo Place (3–29 March 2018). Songs for Disaster Relief World Tour expands on the artist’s Hong Kong Pavilion at the six-month long Venice Biennale exhibition, which brought together collages, drawings, video and site-specific installations in an exploration of the charity singles phenomena—songs recorded for disaster relief—questioning the political ideology that produced them. Several newly commissioned works have been created especially for this iteration in the city.


Samson Young, Palazzo Gundane (homage to the mythmaker who fell to earth) (2017). Silk-screen print on vinyl cover, felt tip pen on vinyl records, 3D printed nylon, vitrine of found objects, movable curtain system, neon, video, animation and ten-channel sound installation. Installation view: Songs for Disaster Relief World Tour, M+ Hong Kong (9 February–6 May 2018). Courtesy the artist.


Lawrence Lek: 2065
chi K11 art space, Tsim Sha Tsui
21 March20 May 2018

In partnership with Sadie Coles, K11 is also presenting 2065, a solo exhibition by London-based simulation artist Lawrence Lek. Designed as a gaming zone in which every visitor becomes a player, 2065 is an ‘open-world’ video game that is based on the experience of exploring five zones located on a ‘virtual island’ that incorporates details from Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong, including a simulacrum of chi K11 art space, the Play Station headquarters and Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands casino.


Lawrence Lek, Play Station VR (2017). 3 min. VR for Oculus Rift Headset. Courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London. Copyright Lawrence Lek.



Guerrilla Girls: Not Ready to Play Nice
Grand Hall, Lee Shau Kee Lecture Centre, the University of Hong Kong
26 March, 7:15pm

Coinciding with Women’s History Month, the Hong Kong University will be hosting a lecture by one of the most influential feminist art collectives in contemporary art, the Guerrilla Girls. The anonymous activist art collective––they wear gorilla masks in public in order to hide their identity––formed in New York City in 1985, and are known for drawing attention to the gender and cultural bias and inequality that exists in the arts across institutional structures.

Registration for Guerrilla Girls HKU lecture is on a first come first served basis. Register here.


The Guerrilla Girls, Is it even worse in Europe? (2016). Courtesy the artists.


Guerrilla Girls installation
Asia Art Archive booth, Art Basel
2731 March 2018

Art Basel Conversations: Feminist Aesthetics | Movements and Manifestations
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
30 March, 5-6:30pm

An interactive installation by the collective will be presented at Asia Art Archive’s booth throughout the duration of the fair. They will also be speaking on a panel discussion organised as part of Art Basel Conversations, which is free to the public, titled ‘Feminist Aesthetics: Movements and Manifestations’, along with artists Nilima Sheikh, Yurie Nagashima, and Yu Hong. Taking place on 30 March, this discussion will be moderated by Asia Art Archive’s head of research, John Tain and Dr Yeewan Koon, Associate Professor of the Fine Arts Department, University of Hong Kong.


Enter a captionThe Guerrilla Girls, Is it even worse in Europe? (2016). Courtesy the artists.


Asia Art Archive Edit-a-thon
Asia Art Archive Booth at Art Basel Hong Kong
30 March 2018, 2-6pm

In the wake of the new wave of female empowerment movements that have swept across parts of the world recently, the art world has had to reassess its gender, and cultural, imbalances. Riding this wave, Asia Art Archive has organised a Wikipedia edit-a-thon with M+ Museum on 30 March at Asia Art Archive’s booth at Art Basel in Hong Kong, to help participants edit Wikipedia and improve its coverage of women and art in Asia. The edit-a-thon forms part of Asia Art Archive’s March 2018 programme, Women Make Art History, which aims to encourage and develop discussions surrounding the representation of women in art across collections and arts infrastructures.

Sign up and re-write history.


Exterior view of Design Society. Courtesy Victoria and Albert Museum and Design Society.



On the weekend after the fair, check out the art and design scene just across the Hong Kong border with a trip to Shenzhen, just an hour away—you’ve sat in traffic for longer.

Pay a visit to Shenzhen, where Design Society, an initiative spearheaded by London’s V&A Museum, is showing Values of Design an exhibition of over 250 objects from 900AD to the present derived from the V&A’s extensive collection (2 December–8 April 2018). Go to OCAT Shenzhen to see The Enormous Space: a double solo exhibition of new works by Hong Kong artist Lee Kit and Chinese artist Cui Jie (20 January–8 April 2018).


Lee Kit, I didn’t know that I was dead (part 4) (2018). Acrylic on fabric, video. Dimensions Variable. © the artist and OCAT Shenzhen.


Another train ride away in Guangzhou is the village-inspired arts complex Mirrored Gardens. Designed by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto and part of the Beijing-based Vitamin Creative Space, the current exhibition, Friendship, presents a series of recent paintings by Wang Yin (14 January–15 April 2018).

Installation view: Wang Yin: Friendship, Mirrored Gardens, Guangzhou (14 January-15 April 2018). Photo: Tessa Moldan.

Future Life Handbook at Redtory Museum for Contemporary Art (16 December–7 May 2018) brings together the work of six young artists—including Mariana Hahn, Amir Fattal, and Miao Ying—curated by two curators from Berlin and China, Rachel Rits-Volloch and Dong Bingfeng, in a dialogue that reflects on the present moment through a study of the past and a view towards the future.


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