State of the art
It never rains; it pours. The arrival of ART HK - Hong Kong's major contemporary art fair - is bringing a deluge of visual arts events this week, when some of the world's biggest galleries, artists and auction houses come to town to show off works of all dimensions to buyers and collectors from around the region.
It won't be all commerce and no culture, however, as local arts organisations are taking the opportunity to host talks, forums and thought-provoking exhibitions that promise to be both intellectually engaging and entertaining.
ART HK 11
Leading the pack will be the Hong Kong International Art Fair, aka ART HK, which returns for the fourth year, looking bigger and better. A total of 250 galleries specialising in modern and contemporary art from 38 countries will occupy two halls at the Convention and Exhibition Centre from Thursday to May 29. Top galleries such as L&M Arts, Victoria Miro Gallery and Marian Goodman Gallery will be joining the fair for the first time while international artists including Takashi Murakami, Zhang Huan, Anish Kapoor and Antony Gormley will be represented.
Tel: 3127 5526 or www.hongkongartfair.com
Asia Art Archive
The Asia Art Archive (AAA) returns with another Backroom Conversations series at the fair, bringing together experts and practitioners in the contemporary art field to discuss a wide range of cultural issues. In a session titled Is Ink Painting Dead? Is It Contemporary?, three pairs of experts - AAA's Jane Debevoise and veteran ink painter Wucius Wong, curator Kao Chien-hui and artist Huang Zhiyang, curator/critic Pauline Yao and artist Qiu Zhijie - will consider how ink painting is relevant to the contemporary art debate. And as AAA continues its 10th anniversary celebrations, two other panel discussions - Hong Kongism and The Decade Revisited ... - will look back on how art and culture have developed in the past 10 years locally and internationally. A new initiative, called Open Platform, will give cultural producers and organisers a chance to give a 28-minute presentation, which can be anything from a lecture to a performance, to be held during ART HK 11.
Their booth at the fair will be a recreation of the Delhi studio of Geeta Kapur and Vivan Sundaram, bringing a selection of material from the Archive's recently completed project to provide a new perspective into the recent history of Indian art.
Tel: 2815 1112 or www.aaa.org.hk
Asian Cultural Council
The Asian Cultural Council will present one of its grant recipients and award-winning artist Amy Cheung Wan-man at ART HK 11, who will create an interactive work, or what she calls 'a chance machine', that questions the true value of art. The piece is not only a game but also a metaphor for the heart, 'where things go in and out as in [blood] circulation'. Cheung explains: 'The work explores what artists look for: fundamental value of art or financial value; and I'm asking this question within the context of the art fair. Is the event just about buying and selling, or more?'
Her work provides an equal opportunity for all visitors to try their luck for HK$20 to win the 'jackpot', a work of art donated by Beijing artist Yue Minjun. Proceeds will be used to establish a special fund to support a Hong Kong artist to travel to the US and receive a unique and custom-tailored educational and cultural exchange fellowship.
Tel: 2895 0407 or www.acc.org.hk
Intelligence Squared Asia
Art must be beautiful - that is the motion for Intelligent Squared Asia's upcoming debate at the Convention and Exhibition Centre on Friday at 7pm. Joining the panel will be New York photographer David LaChapelle and Simon de Pury, co-founder of auction house Phillips de Pury, speaking for the motion, and Singaporean artist Ming Wong and former chief executive of London's Design Museum and columnist Stephen Bayley speaking against it. Lars Nittve, executive director of M+, the visual culture complex that will be built at the West Kowloon Cultural District, will chair the debate.
The Goethe-Institut Hongkong teams up with Deutsche Bank, the lead sponsor of ART HK, for the second year to showcase artworks from the bank's vast corporate collection. Titled Urban Utopia - If and Only If, the exhibition will feature works by local artists Ho Sin-tung and Tang Kwok-hin, and run at their Hong Kong Arts Centre space during the art fair period. The bank will stage another show at the fair itself with a dozen works from its North Asia art collection as well as a reproduction of a massive high-definition multimedia wall (measuring 12.25 metres by 1.5 metres) by computer graphic artist Matt Pike.
Para/Site Art Space
Independent art space Para/Site and Vitamin Creative Space (Guangzhou/Beijing) will jointly host a 'wedding', which calls out to artists around the globe to donate a piece of artwork for their performance. According to Para/Site, The Wedding concept emerged when Hu Fang and Zhang Wei, both directors of Vitamin Creative Space, realised a wedding ceremony - as a special moment in life - could be an interesting scene in which to ask artists to think about their work. So, for Thursday's event at the Sheung Wan art space, they have invited their artist friends from all over the world to each give an artwork as a wedding gift.
Tel: 2517 4620 or www.para-site.org.hk
Osage Contemporary Art Gallery
One of the three projects presented by Osage during ART HK 11 will be Staged Fiction, a joint exhibition curated by the space's co-director, Pauline Yao, featuring three diasporic artists, Patty Chang, Adrian Wong and Ho Tzu Nyen. The artists' video projects will tease out the many contradictions of living in the contemporary era and express our inability to discern what is real from the imaginary.
The other two projects - titled About Points of Ellipsis and Lssiisl Tennt - as well as their ART HK show will bring together local names such as Tozer Pak Sheung-chuen, Wilson Shieh and Kingsley Ng Siu-king, plus Poklong Anading and Alvin Zafra from the Philippines.
Tel: 2793 4817 or www.osagegallery.com
Edouard Malingue Gallery
In co-operation with The Pace Gallery, French art dealer Edouard Malingue will present a new solo show of works by contemporary mainland artist Zhang Huan. The exhibition, Zhang Huan: Aura of Disappearance, will feature 10 ash paintings and two ash army sculptures at his Central gallery. This will be the first time these works are being shown in Hong Kong.
According to Malingue, this show, which runs from Wednesday to June 30, focuses on the artist's ash paintings and sculptures that he began making after returning to the mainland in 2005. Zhang says: 'To me, incense ash is neither just ash nor just a material. It represents the collective souls, memories and prayers of the faithful. Using this incense ash to create paintings crystallises the prayers, memories and souls within.'
Tel: 2810 0317 or www.edouardmalingue.com
Sundaram Tagore Gallery Hong Kong
Sebastiao Salgado is to have his debut solo exhibition in Hong Kong at Sundaram Tagore Gallery in Central. The Brazilian photographer has made it his life's work to document the impact of globalisation on humankind, according to the gallery. His subjects are Vietnamese boatpeople, Rwandan refugees, Indian coffee growers and the like, and his black and white images lay bare some of the bleakest moments in modern history. This exhibition, to run from Tuesday to June 25, will include new works from his Genesis series, featuring images of majestic landscapes and ancient civilisations.
Tel: 2581 9678 or www.sundaramtagore.com
Zee Stone Gallery
Here is an exhibition that is just fun. Homage, by local political blogger Hemlock, pays tribute to the men and women who ruled this city in the first decade of the 21st century. The works, in the form of limited-edition prints, are collages largely composed of 'found material', especially photographs, mainly drawn from the media. According to the gallery, the compositions, structurally, tend to employ tools of heraldry or religious iconography, such as symmetry and repetition in support of a central figure of veneration. This framework is used to present juxtapositions, including motifs seemingly at odds with the apparent devotional focus of the piece. The show runs until June 13.
Tel: 2810 5895 or www.zeestone.com
As the third-largest auction centre in the world after New York and London, all eyes will be on Hong Kong this week. Christie's, Sotheby's, Bonhams, Seoul Auction and the United Asian Auctioneers are all holding their sales and related exhibitions in the next fortnight with works by big names, including 'a controversial' work offered by the Asian auction house consortium, United Asian Auctioneers: Middle Finger, by Ai Weiwei, who is still being detained by mainland authorities for suspected 'economic crimes'.