Saturday, April 30, 2016

Art Central / Art Basel Hong Kong 2016

March madness returned to Hong Kong reportedly in the coldest March weather since 1978 and there was a steady downpour as  made my way from the IFC towards the large Art Central marquee on Hong Kong's harbour front. Work commitments meant that I had to tackle both Art Central and Art Basel Hong Kong in the same day!

As I arrived at Art Central, the rain had obviously made a dent in the audience figures but also made viewing the artwork a little more convenient. The outdoor food court area was a wash-out but in the exhibition hall there were some notable pieces of work to see. As I toured around the gallery booths, I had talk to artist Claire Lee at the Mur Nomade booth and later I met Professor Chan Yuk Keung of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who was also visiting.

A bite to eat replenished my energy before walking across to the Convention and Exhibition Centre to  take in this year's Art Basel HK. Approaching the escalators from the vehicle drop-off level, I passed a huge queue of people lining up in the hope of purchasing a day ticket.
This year the 'hot' material was cardboard. It was everywhere, stacked up on trollies, squashed into bails, made into artificial rocks, whatever you could think off.
I managed to keep moving forward despite flagging spirits and I was rewarded by a few treasures that appeared before me as though to rescue me from exhaustion.

After 5 hours I reached the end and before leaving the Centre I collected a bright green Frieze bag full of magazines and journals from the various stands in the lobby area. I also bumped into Art writer John Batten, on his way in for one of the panel sessions set aside for conversations / discussions.

Below is a sample of the gems I discovered during my day, artist name listed:

Ian McKeever

Jannis Kounellis

Max Ernst

Constantin Brancusi

David Nash

Alberto Burri

Isaac Julien

Issac Julien

Richard Long

M+ - The Sigg Collection

Before the completion of the long-overdue M+ Museum of Visual Culture, to be constructed on Hong Kong's West Kowloon area of reclamation, there have been several events and activities organised to keep alive the promise of M+ until the time when procrastination and indescribable bureaucracy finally gives way and this city of 7 million at last has a venue that does justice to a city of its size.

The latest event is the public display of work donated by Swiss collector Dr. Uli Sigg back in 2012. This work will form the nucleus of the M+ collection and it certainly serves that purpose.

Over 80 pieces of contemporary Chinese art made between 1974 and 2011 appear to comprise a valid representation of the most successful contemporary art made in China during those years. Many of the most renowned artists in Chinese contemporary art have work in the collection and I found it a very worthwhile and enjoyable show.

The line up included Ai Wei Wei, Cao Fei, Yang Fudong, Wang Keping and Zhang Xiaogang,  but my particular favourites were: Huang Yong Ping's 'Six Small Turntables' of 1988, Lin Yilin's 'Safely manoeuvring across Lin He Road' of 1995, Song Dong's 'Breathing - Houhai (Back Sea) - Tiananmen Square' of 1996,  Zhang Huan's 'Family Tree' of 2000 and Lu Ring's 'Untitled' of 2000 (countless numbers of tiny squares hand-drawn on an extremely long roll of paper).

This collection sets M+ off to a good start. What Hong Kong really needs is a world-class collection of contemporary art, a stimulating calendar of international exhibitions and a forum for local Hong Kong artists to promote themselves. The first two are very desirable but the last one is a definate necessity!

Zhang Huan - Family Tree, 2000

Song Dong - Breathing - Houhai (Back Sea) - Tiananmen Square', 1996 

Huang Yong Ping - Six Small Turntables, 1988

Lu Ring - Untitled, 2000

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Event Horizon - Anthony Gormley in Hong Kong

After a year's delay Antony Gormley's city-wide installation 'Event Horizon' finally appeared on the Hong Kong skyline.
A year ago, a suicide in the city frightened sponsors away but finally Hong Kong joined world cities such as London, New York, Sao Paolo, and Rio de Janeiro in integrating Gormley's work into the local environment.
The project was initiated in 2007 when it was first recognised that over half of the world's population were living in cities and was first installed in London.
Antony Gormley's sculptures (cast from his own body) stare out across the cities in which they have been installed, surveying the cityscape, trying to understand how they fit into this chaotic, man-made jungle.
The installation is due to be dismantled on May 18th but the memory (for me at least) will last much longer.