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10 must-see exhibitions in Hong Kong this July

This month marks a pivotal time in Hong Kong’s history, with countless celebratory events — as well as mixed feelings — in light of the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong handover back to Chinese sovereignty. It’s these turning points in time where society’s artistic set often turn out their most poignant creations, with each work stimulating an ongoing conversation on Hong Kong’s past, present and future.

Whether it’s about the cultural identity and the unique regional artistic language found in the Pearl Delta, the ecological impacts of our actions, or a light hearted thought experiment on Hong Kong’s future, there’s plenty of important — and vocal — must-see exhibitions around town this month. Here are our top picks.

Canton Express: Art of the Pearl River Delta

must-see exhibitions - Canton Express
Duan Jianyu, “Artistic Chicken,” (2013), fiberglass, resin, acrylic paint, steel armature;
M+, Hong Kong. Gift of Guan Yi, 2013;
Courtesy of M+, Hong Kong

When: Through 10 September

Originally part of a 2003 exhibition at the 50th Venice Biennale curated by Hou Hanru, Canton Express was a major showcase of artists active in the Pearl River Delta region from the turn of the 21st century, and the exhibition is being brought back to the M+ Pavilion in Hong Kong this year. For those that missed it, this re-staging helps us gain a better picture of the unique artistic language used by contemporary creators in the region. The 2017 exhibition is comprised of 37 works that are reiterations of the originals in 2003, all owned by influential Chinese collector Guan Yi and generously donated to M+’s permanent collection.

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

Hall of Mental Cultivation of The Palace Museum: Imperial Residence of Eight Emperors

must-see exhibitions, Palace Museum
Gold Chalice of Eternal Stability inlaid with gemstones, Qianlong period (1736 – 1795), Qing dynasty

When: Through 15 October

This exhibition at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum should sate the appetites of Chinese culture aficionados, paving the way for the future Hong Kong Palace Museum, which is set to be one of the rare venues that will house Imperial artefacts outside of Beijing’s Palace Museum. This show is centred around the former residence of Qing emperors, the Hall of Mental Cultivation, also known as Yangxin Dian, which was considered to be the backbone of political power during the Qing dynasty. Displaying more than 200 precious items, including important artefacts as well as decorative items and furnishings from the hall itself, it’s set to make for a very educational visit.

1/F, Thematic Exhibition Hall, Hong Kong Heritage Museum, 1 Man Lam Road, Sha Tin, Hong Kong, HK$20 at the door

Visions Present and Future: The Hong Kong Visual Arts Society 43rd Annual Exhibition

must-see exhibitions, Art Experience Gallery, Peggy Chan
Peggy Chan, “夢菊 (Dream Chrysanthemum),” (2016), mixed media, 80cm diameter

When: 1–29 July

For a survey of the distinct local flavour in the current art scene, check out the joint exhibition between Art Experience Gallery and Hong Kong Visual Arts Society, marking the first time the society has collaborated with a local gallery. More than 30 pieces showcased represent the diversity of the Hong Kong arts scene, highlighting how veteran artists are nurturing young talents, as well as how we are cultivating artists across differing cultures and identities. From old hands such as Gaylord Chan and Frog King to HKVA society newcomers such as Peggy Chan and Michelle Fung, you won’t want to miss this exhibition. Two free seminars will also take place on 15 July, 2:30-4:30pm and 29 July, 3-6pm. Enquire by email at fion@artexperiencegallery.com.

Art Experience Gallery, Room 2009, Cable TV Tower, 9 Hoi Shing Road, Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2110 9928

Jacqueline Kiyomi Gordon: Catchy

must-see exhibition - The Empty Gallery, Jacqueline Kiyomi Gordon
“Not Exactly B Flat,” 2017

When: Through 19 August

At the only ‘black cube’ gallery in Hong Kong and one that emphasises multimedia and performance arts, The Empty Gallery is presenting the East Asian debut of LA-based installation artist Jacqueline Kiyomi Gordon this month. Using hyper-directional speakers and strategically placed sculptures, visitors will experience a dynamic interaction between sound, sculpture and architecture that shifts depending on your position within the exhibition. Soundtracked to a pop song Gordon wrote in Los Angeles playing across the gallery’s two floors, this show is much more tactile and playful than your average painting show.

The Empty Gallery, 18-19/F, Grand Marine Center, 3 Yue Fung Street, Tin Wan, Aberdeen, Hong Kong, +852 2563 3396

On Sharks and Humanity

must-see exhibitions - On Sharks and Humanity
Li Jiwei, “Forgotten Landscape;” Image Courtesy of Parkview Arts Action

When: Through to the end of September

With the support of major art patron and Parkview Arts Action director George Wong together with international nonprofit WildAid, this art project held at the Maritime Museum sees 34 artists tackle the plight of sharks in our oceans as a result of the shark’s fin trade. Put together by Beijing-based curator Huang Du, this exhibition draws on the way sharks are crucial in marine ecology, and reflects on how we can build a better human connection with the ocean, through large scale works, paintings and photographs that attempt to encourage the audience to view sharks as equals. The show is now in its fifth phase after having stopped in Monaco, Moscow, Beijing and Singapore.

Hong Kong Maritime Museum, Central Pier No. 8, Central, Hong Kong, +852 3713 2500, HK$30 at the door

Composing Stories with Fragments of Time

must-see exhibitions - Karin Weber - Angela Su
Angela Su, “Caspiar,” (2017), single channel video, 5’20”, 5 editions + 2AP

When: Through 12 August

This thoughtful exhibit at Karin Weber Gallery can be likened to a creative writing exercise: eight Hong Kong artists respond to an anonymous letter dated 1 July, 1997, written by a Hong Kong emigrant to Australia. Reflecting on the mixed emotions in the letter, and through much introspection, these Hong Kong artists gather to tell their personal tales — across a range of contrasting backgrounds and experiences — through nostalgic photographs, videos, letters and heartrending installations. Participating artists include familiar names in the Hong Kong art scene such as Kurt Chan, Annie Wan, Francis Yu, Luke Ching, Angela Su, Lau Chi Chung, Carmen Ng and Elva Lai.

Karin Weber Gallery, G/F, 20 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2544 5004


must-see exhibitions - Massimo de Carlo - Zhao Gang Carnival
Zhao Gang, “The Bird Man,” (2017), Ex. Unique, Oil on canvas, 155 × 130 cm

When: 13 July–9 September

After a quiet and introspective solo show by Lee Kit at Massimo de Carlo that wraps up on 8 July, things begin to get a little topsy turvy come mid-July. Themed entirely around carnivalesque masks, the gallery will be putting on a group show exploring fictionality, decadence and mythology, featuring the works by Luigi Ontani, Zhao Gang and Matthew Monahan. Expect elaborate mask sculptures and slightly spooky paintings from the three international artists.

Massimo de Carlo, 3/F, Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2613 8062

Tones of Festival: Modern Hong Kong Watercolour

must-see exhibitions - Sun Museum, Chan Kau-on
Chan Kau-on, “Vibes in Causeway Bay,” (1997)

When: Through 19 August

In a world of instantaneous Instagram filters, it’s sometimes nice to step back and see the world through the enriching colours that have been handpicked by artists. At this exhibition at the Sun Museum, 11 local watercolourists showcase their 55 recent works of iconic Hong Kong city scenes, from wet market stalls to smoky temples to idyllic fishing villages and shiny harbourside skyscrapers — all celebrating the most beautiful faces of Hong Kong in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong SAR’s establishment, as well as the museum’s second anniversary.

Sun Museum, 4/F, SML Tower, 165 Hoi Bun Road, Kwun Tong, Hong Kong, +852 2690 6790 (by appointment only)

In Search of Miss Ruthless

must-see exhibitions - Para Site - Miss Ruthless
Ka-man Tse, “untitled,” (2017), photograph, archival inkjet print, 41cm x 41 cm

When: Through 10 September

Para Site is known for its large, cerebral group shows, often involving regional talents all analysing the what ifs on highly pertinent hot topics in society. Using pageantry as a method, this exhibition is split into 10 case studies to explore how beauty pageants can mirror how communities view themselves — showcasing the society’s physical ideals, smarts, activism and political values. Using a fictional persona Miss Ruthless, who is imagined as what could be a popular pageant contender in the future, two web projects have also been created in attempt to determine a visual identity of such a pageant queen, and in turn perhaps, set the stage for a community where such a beauty queen would win.

Para Site, 22/F, Wing Wah Industrial Building, 677 King’s Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2517 4620

Centrifugal Force

“M Theory 2,” (2015), Ink on paper, digital images collage, 120 x 60 cm; Image Courtesy of the Artist and Hanart TZ GalleryWhen: Through 15 July

If you’re seeking out the most cutting edge in the field of ink art, you’ll want to look to the works of Wong Chung-yu. At his solo show at Hanart TZ, you’ll follow the artist from scroll to iPad; tracing his evolving trajectory, slowly moving away from his earlier core practices of shanshui paintings towards the frontiers of new media art in digital animation and installation.

Hanart TZ Gallery, 401 Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2526 9019

Evelyn Lok
Managing Editor
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. At Lifestyle Asia she covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.
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