6 shows to see in Hong Kong’s South Island Art Day 2015

Art Radar guides you to the most compelling events and exhibitions in Hong Kong’s burgeoning south-side arts district. 

As the South Island Art Day kicks off on 19 September 2015, Art Radar previews some of the best shows to see, from an artist talk with Tenzing Rigdol to sound art by Andio Lai. 

Art Statements gallery view. Image courtesy Dominique Perregaux.

Art Statements gallery view. Image courtesy Dominique Perregaux.

An emerging art district

Lying on the south side of Hong Kong Island, the industrial spaces of Wong Chuk Hang, Tin Wan and Ap Lei Chau are fast becoming one of the most avant-garde arts districts in the city. The cluster of galleries and arts spaces were further bolstered three years ago when the South Island Cultural District (SICD) was founded by Swiss gallery owner and writer Dominique Perregaux who currently helms the Hong Kong and Tokyo-based gallery Art Statements.

Comprising more than 20 art spaces, the SICD boasts a unique cluster of hip and emerging spaces that stand out for their strong personalities and huge (by Hong Kong standards) square footage – ranging from 3,000 to 5,000 sq f. With the city’s mass transport system, the MTR, set to open in Wong Chuk Hang in coming years, you can expect even greater audiences in the future. As Perregaux says:

People need more reasons to visit the neighbourhood than ‘just’ seeing exhibitions after all. That’s a fact in HK but also in Singapore – that’s why the Gillman Barracks is not taking off – and also in Beijing. But 798 solved this issue with cafes, designers outlets, etc. So once the MTR transforms Wong Chuk Hang into a commercial district, people will have plenty of different reasons to visit us.

Prior to a complete commercialisation of the area, art lovers can enjoy the edgy vibe of this slightly off-the-beaten path area with the convenience of free shuttle buses on 19 September 2015. The SICD Art Day offers an exciting programme including exhibition openings, artist talks and performances, as well as free food and drink from restaurant partners.

Art Radar spotlights 6 must-see Asian contemporary art openings and events taking place:

Tenzing Rigdol, 'Melong', 2013, collage and silk brocade on canvas, 167.6 x 152.4 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Rossi & Rossi.

Tenzing Rigdol, ‘Melong’, 2013, collage and silk brocade on canvas, 167.6 x 152.4 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Rossi & Rossi.

Artist talks and performances

Artist Talk: Tenzing Rigdol – Rossi & Rossi, 2:30pm 

The first place you will want to be is at Rossi & Rossi’s space in Wong Chuk Hang for this talk by the pioneering contemporary Tibetan artist Tenzing Rigdol. The artist will not only present in person his mesmerising selection of painting, collage and print works entitled “Change is the Eternal Law”; he will also speak about his artistic path and career.

Rigdol is perhaps best known for his high profile work Our Land, Our People (2011), which involved him covertly transporting 20 tonnes of soil out of Tibet to Dharamsala, India, where he created a platform for exiled Tibetans to stand on home soil. The artist is the subject of the award-winning documentary about this project, Bringing Home Tibet (2013). Another of Rigdol’s works, Pin Drop Silence: Eleven-Headed Avalokitesvara (2013), became the first work by a contemporary Tibetan artist to be acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A student of Tibetan sand painting, butter sculpture and Buddhist philosophy, Rigdol’s multi-faceted works are “products of collective influences and interpretations of age-old traditions”, according to the press release. Speaking to Art Radar about the show, Corey Andrew Barr, Director of Rossi & Rossi and Yallay Gallery, says:

Yallay Gallery and Rossi & Rossi occupy a unique position in the gallery ecosystem of Hong Kong […] The concepts, histories, politics and even languages presented [in Tibetan contemporary art] is distinct not only in Hong Kong, but also in a Western context. The rewards of working with these artists […] greatly outweigh the challenges of mounting such an ambitious programme.

Andio Lai and Son Tse Wing Yan, 'Twelve', 2015. A sound and dance performance. Image courtesy Mur Nomade.

Andio Lai and Son Tse Wing Yan, ‘Twelve’, 2015. A sound and dance performance. Image courtesy Mur Nomade.

Sound and Dance Performance: Andio Lai & Son Tse Wing Yan – Mur Nomade, 2:30 pm

Another compelling place to be at 2:30pm is this sound and dance performance by Andio Lai and Son Tse Wing Yan, commissioned by Mur Nomade. A sound artist and instrument builder, Andio Lai’s works range from comics to new media installations and performances. Son Tse Wing Yan, on the other hand, has interests in dance, photography, performing art, and installation. According to the press release, their performance Twelve “depicts the recurrence of attachment and detachment in life”:

Twelve is the number of months per year and zodiac signs, representing a cycle of time. In the performance, daily objects are appropriated to become musical apparatuses with sensor and digital processing. The two performers – an instrument player and a dancer – are oppositional forces to create and destroy the connection between the physical and audio. The soundscape and space follow a recurrent pattern of an escalating attachment and detachment – very much like how time passes.

Toshie Takeuchi, '...from and the name of the dogs', 2012, photography and text in frames, variable sizes. Image courtesy the artist and Spring Workshop.

Toshie Takeuchi, ‘…From and the Name of the Dogs’, 2012, photography and text in frames, variable sizes. Image courtesy the artist and Spring Workshop.

Exhibition openings

“Des hôtes: a foreigner, a human, an unexpected visitor” – exhibition opening – Spring Workshop

The nuanced French word hôte can either mean “host” or “guest”. Adopting the word hôte as a title, writer-curator Christina Li contemplates the subtle yet pervasive politics of hospitality in her inaugural homecoming show at Spring Workshop. The 3-month programme begins with a scene-setting exhibition of sculptures and ready-mades by Yu Honglei, a film installation and photography series by Toshie Takeuchi, and miniature paintings and sand carpets by Kasper Bosmans.

Speaking to Art Radar about the thought-provoking show, curator Christina Li says:

[Des hôtes] is [curated] in response to [Spring Workshop’s] identity and values. Spring is a cultural initiative that brings people together to experiment with the way we relate to art […] I see [Des hôtes] as an attempt to understand how we manifest the roles of host and guest in various contexts, as well as the limits of hospitality in our daily interactions.

Hsu Yin Ling, 'Emotions Territory', 2014-2015, oil on canvas, 183 x 285 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery EXIT.

Hsu Yin Ling, ‘Emotions Territory’, 2014-2015, oil on canvas, 183 x 285 cm. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery EXIT.

“All Happy Returns” – exhibition opening – Gallery EXIT

Gallery EXIT unveils a first-time collaboration with emerging Taiwanese artist Hsu Yin Ling, who is presenting a series of intriguing paintings revolving around a fictional taxidermist. Insentient to emotions, the taxidermist re-educates himself on human nature by obsessively collecting chunks and fragments representing human beings.

Speaking to Art Radar, Gallery EXIT says that the estranged taxidermist “has no way to attain any sense of belonging through love, […] relationship[s] with others and society”. According to the press release, Hsu’s oeuvre explores human behaviour and mental states. Through a process of fragmentation, selection, exaggeration and collage, Hsu constructs a visual language that is at once familiar and uncanny, proximate to reality yet inscrutable to common sense. The violence evinced is subtle yet real; as the press release states:

This is the totalitarian power from any civilized society – […] the violence of civilisation sequesters anyone who fails to be incorporated outside reality as pariahs.

Joshua Yeldham, 'Owl of Yeoman's Bay', 2014, acrylic, oil and cane on carved board, 244 x 214 cm. Image courtesy the artist and The Cat Street Gallery.

Joshua Yeldham, ‘Owl of Yeoman’s Bay’, 2014, acrylic, oil and cane on carved board, 244 x 214 cm. Image courtesy the artist and The Cat Street Gallery.

“SURRENDER” – The Cat Street Gallery Annex

Following a huge sell-out at Art 15 art fair in London this May, acclaimed Australian artist Joshua Yeldham presents 2 stunning limited edition owl prints at The Cat Street Gallery Annex especially for South Island Art Day patrons. A recurring motif in the artist’s oeuvre, the owl has become a trademark staple in Yeldham’s fantastical canvasses, which masterfully blur the lines between the real and the imaginary, the abstract and the figurative. The artist’s Cat Street Gallery bio reads:

Yeldham’s canvasses are extraordinary tapestries, brimming with detail and imagination. The artist is obsessive in his attention to detail and has an unbridled creativity.

Ken Kitano, '25 participants at 2014 Hong Kong protests "Umbrella Revolution"', 2014, gelatin silver print, 177 x 152 cm, 35 x 28 cm (Edition of 7). Image courtesy the artist and Blindspot Gallery.

Ken Kitano, ’25 Participants at 2014 Hong Kong Protests “Umbrella Revolution”‘, 2014, gelatin silver print, 177 x 152 cm, 35 x 28 cm (Edition of 7). Image courtesy the artist and Blindspot Gallery.

“Good Day Good Night” and “Now, Here, and Beyond” – exhibition openings, book launch, and guided tour by artists – Blindspot Gallery

A few blocks away, Blindspot Gallery presents two dynamically interacting solo photography shows featuring Japanese artist Ken Kitano and Hong Kong artist South Ho Siu Nam, both of whom are showcasing works responding to Hong Kong’s historic Occupy Movement of 2014.

South Ho Siu Nam’s Good Day Good Night series captures surreal, silent cityscapes with black and white photographs, videos, and mixed media (painting and photography) works, evoking a powerful, palpitating atmosphere of haunting unease. Meanwhile, Ken Kitano’s ongoing our face series overlaps portraits of Occupy protestors and Hong Kong police, conjuring up ‘metaportraits’ representing ‘collective’ faces of the opposing groups.

Also on show are Kitano’s day light and watching the moon series, which are stunning meditations on temporality and the vastness of infinite space. A book launch and signing session will be held for South Ho Siu Nam’s photobook Good Day Good Night, and both artists will host guided tours of their exhibitions.

Michele Chan

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Related Topics: Hong Kong artists, Chinese artists, Tibetan artists, Taiwanese artists, Japanese artists, Australian artists, sculpture, painting, photography, performance, art spacesevents in Hong Kong

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