The art offerings in Hong Kong this month are as fruitful and eclectic as ever, with blue-chip art shows contending with edgy counter-culture exhibitions — there’s something for everyone. Of particular note in June is the largest showcase of Takashi Murakami works Hong Kong has laid its flowery eyes on, a spectacular private collection that spans all of 20th-century Western art and important historical pieces that tell the story of Hong Kong. Check through below to find all the must-see art exhibitions in Hong Kong this month.
Blurring the line between furniture and art piece, Cypriot artist Michael Anastassiades’ whimsical sculptures focus on preserving the inherent qualities of a given material. This exhibition at SHOP Taka Ishii Gallery displays lighting and furniture pieces created specifically for the space: Expect long tails of brass licking the air, barely-there pendant lights, rustic stone stools inspired by chopped date trees, or dainty minimal vases that display your foliage with a glint of metal. Unexpected and elegant, they’re wonderfully easy to imagine in your own home.
Michael Anastassiades: Silver Tongued
This landmark exhibition at 10 Chancery Lane Gallery not only commemorates the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Stars Exhibition -- when a group of avant-garde and self-taught Chinese artists staged their own exhibition of banned art to challenge political authority -- but it also celebrates the remarkable life and career of French-Chinese artist Ma Desheng. This solo show pays homage to Ma, who was refused admission to art school due to his walking disability, and worked as an industrial draughtsman and woodblock print artist before encountering the medium of Chinese ink. This show looks particularly at Ma’s acrylic stone painting series, which he created in France following a car accident that paralysed him from the waist down. Don’t miss the panel discussion featuring Ma and his contemporaries at the Asia Society Hong Kong on 6 June (see details below).
Rainbow-hued psychedelic ether is juxtaposed with pastoral scenes of nature, abstract patterns against blurry nudes -- David Zwirner Hong Kong’s latest exhibition presents the eclectic oeuvre of Thomas Ruff, the artist’s 10th show with the gallery. The German photographer belongs to what’s referred to as the Düsseldorf School, known for their experimental approach to the medium via new technologies, as well as monumental-scale prints. To see how he continued to push the boundaries of photography throughout his almost 20-year career, you’ll want to mark this show on your calendar.
Thomas Ruff: Transforming Photography
Finding it near impossible to be a black artist and not create work that draws on the black experience, Devin Troy Strother opted for humour: Each of the Southern Californian artist’s works are set up like a stand-up joke, with intricate, often absurd titles becoming the punchline. At his first exhibition at Over the Influence gallery, Strother focuses on the mythology surrounding the black athlete. He works to dismantle stereotypes by combining sports icons such as Michael Jordan together with visual language inspired by canonical artists like Marcel Duchamp, Henri Matisse, and Joseph Cornell; as well as popular culture in the form of cartoons, movies, music and comedy.
Devin Troy Strother: Flagrant Foul
You’ll spot Takashi Murakami’s smiling flower faces all over Tai Kwun for the next few months, as Tai Kwun Contemporary hosts a major survey exhibition of the superstar artist. The showcase reveals Murakami’s divergent extremes in his oeuvre -- from large-scale post-apocalyptic works to his optimistic, superflat flower pieces to his Enso paintings that draw from Buddhist teachings and legends. Visitors will also get to glimpse for the very first time Murakami’s iconic costume designs, important video works, as well as a portion of the artist’s own private art collection. For Murakami fans, this is the place to be.
Murakami vs Murakami
Hauser & Wirth’s latest exhibition of titanic proportions is a must-see for any lover of 20th-century Western art. Spanning two floors, the show presents 190 works by 112 artists that have made their mark on every kind of art movement worth knowing about: from Dada and Surrealism to Abstraction, Land Art, Conceptual Art, Minimal Art, Pop Art, Op Art, Arte Povera, Nouveau Réalisme, as well as photography from the '20s to '40s -- not to mention contemporary works to boot. Showcasing seemingly everything from Marcel Duchamp to Donald Judd, René Magritte to Man Ray, this mammoth collection is certainly a must-see this summer.
The Sylvio Perlstein Collection: A Luta Continua
Dazzling, large-scale ‘book covers’ make White Cube their home this summer: It’s Harland Miller’s first show in Hong Kong, bringing a new series of paintings that deviate from his previous work of toying with vintage Penguin paperbacks. For the new collection, a formalistic approach to text and spacing is applied through layers of vibrant pinks, reds and yellows. You’ll also find works from a recent series of smaller watercolours, showing off a more painterly flair with drips, bleeds and swathes of impasto.
This selling exhibition at Sotheby’s brings forth two generations of legendary Hong Kong photographers, represented by Yau Leung and Lee Ka-sing. Fifty rare, signed monochrome photographs by the late Yau Leung showcase an evocative look at Hong Kong in the '60s, while 30 recent pieces by Lee Ka-sing reveal the rapid changes the city has undergone in past decades.
Visions of Hong Kong From Two Generations: Yau Leung/Lee Ka-sing
Poet and visual artist Claire Lee brings a self-curated exhibit to a zen corner above Central yoga studio Yoga BamBam. Lee’s mixed media works are an ode to solitude -- in her words, unlike loneliness, solitude is an “aesthetic emotion” that pours out through her hands in works created with charcoal and ink, clay and plaster, along with poetic words. If you’re looking for a quiet moment of self-reflection, perhaps Lee’s works will resonate with you too.
The exhibition opens Wednesday to Saturday, 12–7pm; Sundays and public holidays 12–4pm; other hours are open by appointment only.
Claire Lee: Being Alone Together
In a photography lover’s paradise that previously housed the works of lens masters such as Elliott Erwitt, Jing Huang, Simon Go and Wing Chan, up-and-coming Ukranian photographer Sergey Melnitchenko presents his critically acclaimed solo exhibition. Melnitchenko worked in China as a nightclub dancer in 2015, and this collection of 88 images were taken in the two years he spent in the belly of the nightlife world. Eleven colour images were taken from his series “Behind the Scenes,” which won the 2017 Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award. These images don’t portray at all the glamorous or materialistic fantasies of nightlife in China. Instead, it’s “business as usual” -- these handpicked images all reflect the gritty, intimate glimpses of quotidian Chinese society.