Mainland artist steals show with cutting-edge performance piece

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 May, 2008, 12:00am

The Art HK 08 international art fair opened on Wednesday night at the Convention and Exhibition Centre as a kind of trade convention for the arts. With galleries, collectors and buyers all gathered from around the world until Sunday, it will be five days of unprecedented cultural consumption.

More than 100 of the world's leading galleries are here showing works from about 850 artists. The estimated total value of the art is upwards of HK$500 million - one Francis Bacon painting alone is worth about HK$275 million.

At the huge invite-only opening on Wednesday, various 'booths' tried to steal the spotlight, whether by serving nice wine and snacks or showcasing outlandish performance art. One of the biggest crowds was drawn by mainland artist Li Wei, represented by 10 Chancery Lane. His live performance drew a notably VIP audience, including gallery owner Katie de Tilly, artist Simon Birch and Shanghai Tang's David Tang Wing-cheung all waiting to be wowed - with the impatient Tang barking: 'Why are we waiting?'

Li was finally wheeled out - only about 10 minutes behind schedule - with sharp, shattered mirror pieces covering his entire body. The shards slowly fell off, revealing the artist underneath. It was a metaphor for metamorphosis, with just a few glass cuts. We're not sure we get it, but it was the biggest stunt of the night.