HK's creative talent under the spotlight

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 July, 2010, 12:00am

First established in 1975, the Hong Kong Art Biennial Exhibition has been a key event for the city's art scene. It not only gives a platform for local artists to showcase their talent, but also encourages new artists, reviews developments in the local art scene and explores Hong Kong's unique cultural identity as a cosmopolitan city through its artistic creativity.

Last year, it was renamed the Hong Kong Contemporary Art Biennial Awards (HKCABA), and award-winning works are now on display at the Hong Kong Museum of Art.

Tang Hoi-chui, chief curator of the museum, explains that the HKCABA 'takes its root in the local art scene and incorporates global artistic pursuits. Over 100 award winners from past biennials have become accomplished artists who play a vital role locally'.

This year's HKCABA saw 1,090 participants submitting 2,220 entries, more than any other Hong Kong Art Biennial. Fifteen experienced adjudicators from Hong Kong, the mainland, Britain and Japan took part in judging the awards, eventually selecting 83 works for the exhibition.

The entries covered a wide range of media, from the dominant video and computer arts, to photography, paintings and pottery.

Scott Burnham, an independent curator from London and HKCABA adjudicator says: '[The awards] not only define art, but define the city of Hong Kong as well. [The art] is inspired and created by the metropolis itself.'

New awards this year include the Achievement Awards (sponsored by the Ink Society) and Young Artist Awards (sponsored by the Take a Step Back Collection), and aim to boost creative and progressive young artists.

In all, there were 14 award winners, coming from different categories, including Chinese painting, Chinese calligraphy, sculpture, photography, video and digital art, installations and others.

Commenting on the calligraphy category, adjudicator Wang Tiende says: 'In this biennial, the exhibits are permeated with vestiges of the aura of the ink. With lines and strokes, they reflect the deep abounding cultural kernel behind the glittery shell of business, finance, trade and commerce of Hong Kong. The literary notions conveyed by the works embody the modern lifestyle and characters of Hong Kong.' Wang is an artist and professor at Shanghai's Fudan University.

Koon Wai-bong, a graduate of fine arts from Chinese University and an instructor at the Academy of Visual Arts at Baptist University, won the HKCABA for his Reworking the Classics, ink on silk vertical scrolls. 'In this work, I made use of the visual language of eight masters to express my interpretation on these classics and created a contrast between the past and the present through the tranquil scenery, and precise use of ink in a carefully laid out composition. This is what I call 'Reworking the Classics'.'

Winning the Young Artist Award for Chinese painting was Lai Kwan-ting, for her ink and colour on paper, hanging scrolls, entitled May, 2008. The piece was originally meant to be a simple snapshot of rural China. 'But shortly after finishing the sketch I heard about the earthquake in Sichuan. I felt shocked and wanted to express my feelings for the victims by changing the colour tone from the original glowing orange-reds to a sombre, heavy palette,' the artist explains.

Silas Fong Sum-yu's Stolen Times For Sale was created by the artist 'stealing time' from strangers by pressing the call button on elevators. His piece won the Young Artists Award for Video and Digital Art.

'Art in Hong Kong is ever-changing and unique. It inherits traditional essences, fuses with contemporary elements, and supersedes itself in terms of creative ideals and media applications,' Tang says. 'It also subtly manifests and reflects on Hong Kong politics, current issues, social phenomena and daily life, and so it substantially reflects the development and future of visual arts in Hong Kong's cultural habitat, the artistic significance, the contradiction and fusion between tradition and modernity.'

Visitors to the exhibition will also be able to cast their votes on which works of art they think stand out, with the Audience Choice Award being presented to the winner.

The HKCABA will run until August 1 at the Hong Kong Museum of Art, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Admission HK$10 (HK$5 concessions) 10am-6pm Sunday to Wednesday and Friday, 10am-8pm Saturday (Closed on Thursdays) Tel: 2721 0116,