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.
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:
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
Related Topics: Hong Kong artists, Chinese artists, Tibetan artists, Taiwanese artists, Japanese artists, Australian artists, sculpture, painting, photography, performance, art spaces, events in Hong Kong
- Hong Kong’s emerging ‘Occupation Points’: Linda Lai – interview – September 2015 – Art Radar profiles the latest new art space to appear in Hong Kong, Linda Lai’s Floating Projects in Wong Chuk Hang
- Experimental Hong Kong and Chinese short films in London this September 2015 – September 2015 – one year after the Umbrella Movement, film curators at UK’s videoclub and Hong Kong’s Videotage explore social and political connections between Hong Kong, China and the UK
- The rise of Hong Kong street art – signs of a new creative awakening? – August 2015 – Art Radar explores the street art scene in Hong Kong and profiles summer 2015 exhibitions
- Hong Kong’s Spring Workshop appoints Christina Li as Director/Curator – August 2015 – writer-curator Christina Li starts her one-year tenure as Director of Hong Kong’s Spring Workshop in August 2015, focusing on the politics surrounding support and hospitality
- History Unfolding: Valerie Doran – interview – August 2015 – Art Radar conducts an extensive interview with Valerie Doran, the influential translator, critic and curator about her history working in the Chinese contemporary art scene
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