'Encounter: The Royal Academy in Asia' show to skip Hong Kong

City will miss out on the travelling exhibition by London's Royal Academy featuring work by the likes of Liu Xiaodong and David Hockney

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 September, 2012, 2:59am

Works by some of the world's best-known artists, such as David Hockney and Antony Gormley, will give Hong Kong a miss now that an exhibition planned for the city has been scrapped.

The first travelling exhibition in Asia by London's Royal Academy of Arts dropped the Hong Kong leg because organisers said they could not find an "appropriate venue" in the city.

Opening on September 14 in Singapore's Lasalle College of the Arts, "Encounter: The Royal Academy in Asia" will feature works by 25 academy members, such as Hockney and Gormley, as well as 25 well-regarded artists from Asia, including Liu Xiaodong from mainland China, Michael Lin from Taiwan and Hong Kong's Lee Kit.

The exhibition is part of an academy tradition of summer exhibitions to sell works donated by its members - mostly prominent artists - to raise funds for postgraduate students' studies.

Academy chief executive Charles Saumarez Smith told the South China Morning Post last year that the original plan was to open the show in Singapore, then take it to Hong Kong, Tokyo if possible, and either Taiwan or South Korea.

The team came to Hong Kong last year to discuss partnerships and scout for locations, including the West Kowloon Cultural District and government museums, run by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

"The challenge was to find a venue central enough to attract a wide audience, on a scale and standard which is needed for the display of contemporary art and with the ability to enable the sale of each work," Saumarez Smith said.

But nothing worked out.

The Singapore show will be held in association with Fortune Cookie Projects, an art curatorial and advisory firm, and that city's Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Saumarez Smith said previous academy exhibitions, not necessarily for the sale of art works, were staged at prestigious venues. Not all the works by Asian artists in the Singapore show are for sale.

He said the Lasalle College of Arts was a proper venue in terms of location and standards.

Fortune Cookie Projects confirmed that organisers could not find an appropriate space to stage the show in Hong Kong.

"We wanted to bring it to Hong Kong," said Fortune Cookie's Howard Rutkowski. "The Royal Academy is an institution with important history. The venue has to be appropriate."

Rutkowski said that while the organisers did not want to stage the show at a remote location, they did want to hold it in partnership with a local arts institution, as in Singapore. "We don't want to hold it in the CEC [Convention and Exhibition Centre]."

Unlike the performing arts sector, which has a standalone Academy for Performing Arts, training for the visual arts in Hong Kong falls under various university departments - such as Chinese University's fine arts department and Baptist University's Academy for Visual Arts.

The private Royal Academy was founded in 1768. Organisers said they hoped for an exhibition in Hong Kong in future.