Hong Kong’s art programme this month is filled with thrilling solo shows by both art world heavy-hitters and homegrown talent. From Takashi Murakami to Cao Fei, thematic group shows to the crème de la crème of fine art at Fine Art Asia — here are 10 must-see exhibitions in Hong Kong this month.
The yearly art fair Fine Art Asia brings together museum-quality star pieces considered to be the best in their fields: from exquisite thangka paintings to prestigious photographic prints; fine Ming porcelain to Impressionist masterpieces. But for Hong Kong’s best spotlight on the ink medium, don’t sleep on Ink Asia, which presents each year the best of modern ink masters as well as the forefront of new interpretations, particularly with Ink+, which invites Hong Kong and Chinese artists to exhibit their alternative works. For fine art and antique enthusiasts, as well as lovers of the medium of ink in all its modern and classical iterations, it’s the best time of the year to catch the latest in these genres. With the announcement of concurrent exhibition times made earlier this year, the new September/October fair dates are set to coincide with major art auctions this autumn season.
Fine Art Asia and Ink Asia
New York-based Marilyn Minter developed her signature photorealist style of painting while gaining notoriety in the 80s and 90s for her raw and at times explicit depictions of women in art and media. Minter’s work isn’t just prized for being feminist by subverting beauty standards and cultural ideals; it’s also in her creative process -- painting her subjects through steamed or wet glass via layers of luminosity -- placing her paintings at the cusp between realism and abstraction. If you haven’t already caught this show, be sure to pay a visit to Lehmann Maupin this month.
Widely considered to be one of the most brilliant Chinese artists in her generation, Cao Fei places an innovative lens on China’s fast-changing society, reflecting her observations throughout the years in a variety of media, from her best known moving images to virtual worlds. Spread across three floors of Tai Kwun’s JC Contemporary, this major solo show has Cao tackling the theme of “prison architect,” as well as presents highlights of her oeuvre from the past decade.
Cao Fei: A Hollow in a World Too Full
Karin Weber Gallery’s latest show enlists Ying Kwok, curator of the 57th Venice Biennale Hong Kong Pavilion, to put together an intriguing collection of narrative-led artworks all by Hong Kong artists. She invites viewers to look beyond the surface and to learn more about the back stories of each artist’s production. Chloë Cheuk’s installation examines how contemporary humans are constrained within our physical limits and our minds; Tsang Chui-mei explores the layers of her emotions in similarly expressed overlapping strokes on her canvas, allowing viewers to trace the marks of her psyche; and Tsang Tsui-shan, a film director, exhibits her debut dance video work, exploring the inevitable demise of a relationship between lovers.
The Other Story
This group show at Para Site investigates perhaps the most relateable yet complex sentiment of them all: love. Curated by Qu Chang, associate curator at Para Site, “Crush” looks at the dark side of romance, from unrequited love to wild obsessions of a stalker, the devotion of crazed fans to compulsive patriotic love. Featuring 18 artists and collectives such as Oscar Chan Yik-long, South Ho, Sarah Lai Cheuk-wah, Lee Kit and Magdalen Wong, “Crush” goes against conventions of love in art and urges us all to rethink the joys and pains, the endurance and fickleness of this emotion in our lives.
The American artist is practically synonymous with the assemblage movement of the 50s: hence fans of his combines and collages should make it a point to see Rauschenberg’s rarely showcased Vydocks series. These large-scale works are made up of silkscreened prints of Rauschenberg’s own travel photographs and graphite on white aluminium. They are as much intriguing vignettes of the artist’s life as they are a demonstration of his ever-evolving practice, and have been rarely exhibited ever since their first showing in 1995.
Robert Rauschenberg: Vydocks
Colombian artist Oscar Murillo presents his first-ever Hong Kong exhibition and first solo show in Asia at David Zwirner gallery. Creating art concerned with the increasingly globalised world where everyday items, languages and ideas are shared and displaced, Murillo’s latest work shown here examines space and time by stitching together fragmented canvases created in different locations, followed by building up dense layers made up of personal and universally recognisable references. A recent body of work also centres on work created partly on the airplane as studio -- a “non-place” both confined by airplane seat and freed by where the vehicle is able to travel.
Oscar Murillo: The Build up of Content and Information
The king of psychedelic kawaii art makes a much-anticipated gallery appearance and full solo show at the Gagosian, featuring new works that showcase his most recognised imageries -- a rare chance for all fans and aficionados to view his pieces up close. Some of the most sought-after works include his iconic smiling flowers, his mascot characters Kaikai and Kiki, never-before-seen works starring Doraemon left over from thematic group shows in 2002 and 2017, as well as mammoth pieces influenced by Nihonga paintings from the Edo period, referencing characters from Japanese folklore and religion.
Takashi Murakami: Change the Rule!
If the annual Hong Kong International Tattoo festival last month left a lingering impression on you, you’ll want to pay a visit to "Tattoo Utopia". Huang Yan’s solo exhibition at Leo Gallery explores the medium of tattoo through the lens of contemporary art with the Beijing-based multimedia artist’s most recognisable works in his “Chinese Shan-shui Tattoo” series. All 13 pieces shown have previously exhibited in world class museums, including the National Art Museum of China in Beijing, the Louvre in Paris, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Transferring Sung and Yuan dynasty landscapes on the human canvas, Huang Yan has been closing the distance between ancient culture and daily life since beginning his experimentation in the 90s.
Huang Yan: Tattoo Utopia
If you’re fascinated by the ethereal glow of bioluminiscence, the Empty Gallery may well be the best way to experience it in Hong Kong. In her first solo show here, German multimedia artist Susanne M. Winterling directs her focus into the constellation of energy and light created by dinoflagellates -- mysterious aquatic microorganisms that provide the foundation of life in the marine food chain with their very existence. As much as they look striking against Empty Gallery’s unique black box setting, they also represent a crucial indicator for the health of the planet. Via sculpture, moving image, and a multi-channel “algae opera” -- featuring guest appearances of Lamma Island’s endangered green sea turtles -- The Life Magic is as much a plea as it is a celebration of, according to the gallery, the “over-utilised and under-empathised waters which surround us” in Hong Kong and across the globe.