WITH a large exhibition of work by the late, celebrated, sculptor Antonio Mak Hin-yeung, the Arts Festival has broken new ground by featuring a major solo display of work by a local artist for the first time. That this happened was, according to the festival's artistic director, Grace Lang, partly a lucky coincidence. 'I knew Antonio Mak and, when I visited his widow just after he passed away in June, I found out she was compiling a catalogue of his work. 'She told me one of his last wishes had been for an exhibition of his work to be shown in Hong Kong. 'I thought it would be an important departure for us, so we put a lot of work into organising it and it is going to happen next February.' Mak died on June 22, aged only 43, after months battling cancer of the oesophagus. By the time he reached his 40s, he had already been hailed as one of Asia's finest and most accomplished contemporary artists. He had trained at Goldsmith's College in London and later at the Slade School of Art before returning to Hong Kong. In an obituary published in Asian Arts News, he was remembered as 'thoroughly independent and free thinking'. His work, which mainly concentrated on the human figure, was described as 'an endless search for himself. . . an impossible task, this absolute perfection'. The Antonio Mak retrospective will be on show for a week at City Hall between February 25 and March 1 before transferring to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology for four weeks in March. The other major art exhibition during the festival will show the work of the Society of Landscape painters from London. The group - whose formation six years ago fulfilled a wish in the will of celebrated British landscape painter Joseph Mallord William Turner almost 150 years earlier - holds annual exhibitions of contemporary work. Although the society was formed within the British landscape traditions, the exhibition of leading works being held in the Rotunda, Exchange Square, between January 24 and March 5, also includes paintings of landscapes in Italy, Greece, Israel and India. Its theme is, quite simply, to celebrate the beauty of nature and of the works of human kind. The third big exhibition for the festival marks both the boundary between art and science and the co-operation within the European Community, with a show at the Arts Centre Pao Galleries titled Art and Electronics. A futuristic exercise in virtual reality, 21st century-style, it promises to combine holographic installations, computer sculptures, video art and electronic games. The exhibits are a joint initiative between the British Council, the Associazione Alighieri, the Goethe Institut and the Alliance Francaise. Art and Electronics will run from February 16 to March 5.