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10 must-see art exhibitions in Hong Kong in July 2020

Support artists from Hong Kong and around the world with these 10 remarkable exhibitions in town.

Summer is typically a travel-heavy period for the art world — galleries and collectors alike have traditionally taken an extended summer break as a breather in the middle of a packed art calendar. However, that practice has no doubt turned on its head with travel restrictions and the ever-changing global art scene in 2020.

Although Hong Kong is still experiencing somewhat of a social slump due to the pandemic, the local gallery community has been quick to react — whether by adding colour to our dreary days with stunning contemporary canvases or thoughtfully curated shows that speak about the social injustices around the world that have come to surface in recent months. For 10 exceptional art exhibitions in Hong Kong to see this month, look no further than our list below.

Gary Simmons: Dancing In Darkness

(Image credit: Simon Lee Gallery)

When: Through 29 August

Recent events of the world have forced us to alter the way we approach the issue of race, to say the least. In continuation of this spirit of social awakening, head to Simon Lee Gallery, where Gary Simmons showcases his series of new works, comprising drawings and a painting. Through haunting imagery of lighthouses and watchtowers as a metaphor for surveillance in the US, Simmons sheds light on the problems lodged in race and identity. Continuing in his signature style of ‘erasure drawings,’ Simmons interprets the act of erasure — and its impossibility — as a way to take our shared conscience of African American histories in a new direction.

Simon Lee Gallery, Unit 304 Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2801 6252

Kaleidoscopes: Contemporary Portraiture

(Image credit: Perrotin Hong Kong)

When: Through 8 August

Celebrating Perrotin Hong Kong’s new location at K11 Atelier in Tsim Sha Tsui is a group exhibition showcasing works of portraiture by selected artists. The superstar ensemble features Hernan Bas, Chen Fei, Jean-Philippe Delhomme, Izumi Kato, Madsaki, Eddie Martinez, Barry McGee, Takashi Murakami, and Aya Takano. The show explores portraiture as an art form which depicts the formation of identity and humanistic ideals as they become subject to scrutiny and change. Although each portrait is an individual expression of an artist’s vision, you can expect to see a kaleidoscopic view of likenesses that allows you to reflect on what it means to be your own person.

Perrotin Hong Kong, Unit 807, K11 Atelier, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 3758 2180

Lam Tian Xing: Anthem of Calamus

(Image credit: Illuminati Fine Art)

When: 18 July–19 September

Recognised for his paintings of lotuses, Hong Kong artist Lam Tian Xing has shifted his focus on the calamus plant for the first time for this solo show at Illuminati Fine Art. A tall grassy flowering plant found in wetland ecosystems and commonly used in medicine, calamus has a traditional connotation of strength, healing and energy. With Lam’s gestural brushstrokes, the brushstrokes acting as a blessing and sign of support for the people in Hong Kong during the ongoing pandemic.

Illuminati Fine Art, 31-33 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2889 6992


(Image credit: Pearl Lam Galleries)

When: Through 15 August 

Championing the collective efforts of six artists, namely Alan Kwan, Ni Zhiqi, Peter Peri, Thukra, Tagra and Sara Tse, ‘Alchemist(s)’ brings a wide variety of works ranging from painting, sculpture, video, installation, and virtual reality. Like alchemists, the artists push the boundaries of our mindset towards conventional belief systems and institutional structures without which we won’t have meaning. Looking to be more attuned to the heart, soul and contradictions of human fate? Head to Pearl Lam Galleries by 15 August. 

Pearl Lam Galleries, 6/F, Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2522 1428

Look Left Look Right: Historical Signage

(Image courtesy of Tai Kwun)

When: Through 13 September

With its new exhibition exclusively open on weekends only, Tai Kwun spotlights the historical signages left intact in the Declared Monuments upon its decommission in 2006. Be inspired by not only how they reflect the ever-changing functions of buildings, but also their representation of the aesthetic, craftsmanship and lifestyle that prevailed throughout different eras. Even if you don’t know what you’re looking at, former Tai Kwun staff and experts well-versed in signage production, research and conservation will be on-site to offer interpretation.

Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 3559 2600

Shirley Tse: Stakes and Holders

(Image credit: M+)

When: Through 4 October 

M+ has teamed up with the Hong Kong Arts Development Council to co-present this site-responsive exhibition that reproduces and renews LA-based artist Shirley Tse’s participation at the 58th Venice Biennale last year. Building on the former show, ‘Stakeholders, Hong Kong’ in Venice, this new exhibition showcases how Shirley Tse uses sculpture as a medium to explore interconnections in a pluralistic world. As she mainly draws inspiration from the ever-changing social and material landscape of Hong Kong, she addresses the city’s dynamism and the ever-increasing need for negotiation and improvised change in the way we work and live in a modern society.

M+ Pavilion, Art Park, West Kowloon District, Hong Kong, +852 2200 0217

Beneath the Surface: Chinese Inlay, Japanese Maki-e, and European Cloisonné Enamel

(Image credit: Liang Yi Museum)

When: Through 19 March 2021

Artisan crafts stretching back through centuries, decorative techniques showcased at Liang Yi Museum boast rich history, skill, design and cultural significance. This latest exhibition at the private museum features more than 200 exceptional artefacts from China, Japan, Russia and Europe, all celebrating the ancient technique of Chinese mother-of-pearl and inlaid semi-precious stones (baibaoqian), alongside Japanese lacquerwork (maki-e) and European cloisonné enamel.

Liang Yi Museum, 181-199 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2806 8280

Ilse Bing: Paris and Beyond

(Image courtesy of F11 Foto Museum)

When: Through 31 October 

To envision travelling in the era of coronavirus, is to live with a void that yearns to be filled. F11 Foto Museum might fulfil your wanderlust with its new exhibition featuring over 100 vintage works by Ilse Bing, a major contributor in bridging Paris and modern photography in the 1930s. Most of this collection was taken at the height of her photography career in Paris, whilst the rest reflects the drastic change of her spirit after the influence of war.

F11 Foto Museum, 11 Yuk Sau Street, Happy Valley, Hong Kong, +852 6516 1122


(Image credit: Empty Gallery)

When: Through 22 August

Conceived in Oaxaca, Mexico City, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Hong Kong (hence the rather cryptic neologism in the title), Mexican-American artist Ektor Garcia’s first solo exhibition has arrived in Asia. Through interweaving the media of ceramics, sculpture, textile and metalwork, Garcia injects unique Chicanx and queer aesthetics in traditional folk-crafts, making embodied histories all the more fascinating at the Empty Gallery’s unique ‘black box’ exhibition space.

Empty Gallery, 19/F, Grand Marine Center, 3 Yue Fung St, Tin Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2563 3396

Bae Bien-U: Memories of Wandering

(Image credit: Alex Vervoordt Gallery Hong Kong)

When: Through 19 September

Featuring 16 small and intimate works, Korean photographer Bae Bien-U brings his unique perspective in regard to the possible convergence of man with nature in his latest exhibition. Taking analogue photographs since the 70s, Bae captures meditative landscapes across all kinds of settings — Seascapes, Sonamu (Pine Trees), and Orum (Windscapes) — in which he endorses a romanticised yet Zen view on our surroundings. Spare an afternoon for a thoughtful inward journey with this one.

Axel Vervoordt Gallery Hong Kong, 22/F, Coda Designer Centre, 62 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Hong Kong, +852 2503 2220