During the frenzied month of March here in Hong Kong, art is at the forefront of everything, whether it’s the excitement over the largest art fairs of the year, Art Basel and Art Central; homages to visual art in the food and drink scene; or the galleries bringing their top game as they exhibit to their largest audience of international and Hong Kong collectors alike. From mesmerising masterpieces by storied artists to new gallery openings to solo debuts of artists being brought to Hong Kong for the first time, we’ve picked out 15 exciting art exhibitions that you don’t want to miss this month.
Working with Hong Kong-based stage designer and mural painter Pink Lam, Brooklyn-based painter Sarah Crowner presents her first solo show in town at Simon Lee Gallery. Bold, geometric patterns fill her canvases, continuing her interest in architecture and scenery design. Through her delicate craft of stitching together vibrant canvases, Crowner’s work crosses over art, fashion, graphic design, theatre and performance, representing that of a true multi-disciplinary artist. (Sarah Crowner, “Rotating Wings” (2019), Image credit: Sarah Crowner and Simon Lee Gallery)
As International Women’s Day turns our attention towards greater gender balance, this large scale exhibition at Tai Kwun also helps shed light on the subject. Surveying the nature of structural violence in relation to issues of the body, gender, sexuality, identity and behaviour, this group show outlines the boundaries currently in place caused by existing traditions and social codes and imagines alternatives and counter-narratives. (Jana Euler, “Nude Climbing Up the Stairs” (2014), Image credit: Tai Kwun Contemporary / Wong Ping, “Who’s the Daddy” (2017), Image credit: Wong Ping & Edouard Malingue Gallery)
A double bill at the Asia Society of Hon Chi-fun and James Turrell. The late Hon Chi-fun was one of the most highly venerated pioneers of modern art in Hong Kong, recently passing away at age 96. This timely retrospective of the artist at Asia Society looks back at four decades of work, with over thirty pieces spanning several art practices from painting to printmaking to photography. The exhibition is hosted concurrently at the gallery with a highly anticipated installation of work by James Turrell, celebrated Light and Space movement artist from Los Angeles. Both artists display an acute fascination and manipulation of light in various ways — wait times for the exhibition are expected. (Hon Chi-fun, “Untitled 04, 13, 14, 05” (1983), Image credit: Hon Chi-fun and Asia Society Hong Kong)
Galerie du Monde this year celebrates its graduation from the Insights sector to the main Galleries sector at Art Basel Hong Kong, a laudable feat for any homegrown gallery. Over at its Central gallery space, Australian artist Juan Ford’s hyperrealistic paintings create a compelling atmosphere, with nine new paintings and six 3D works giving a decidedly post-apocalyptic flavour — statues reminiscent of Italian renaissance art, seemingly snow-frozen flora, and more. (Juan Ford, “Naiad” (2019); “The Mystic” (2019), Image credit: Juan Ford and Galerie du Monde)
Sotheby’s presents the first ever major exhibition of American contemporary artist Alex Katz in Hong Kong — an exciting show for anyone who appreciates the clean lines and gorgeous colour found in his large scale portraits and landscapes. Widely collected in world-class museums from MoMA to the Met, the Tate Gallery to the Centre Georges Pompidou, the interest for his paintings in private hands have also been growing rapidly in recent years. (Alex Katz, “Vivien” (2016), Image credit: Alex Katz and Sotheby’s Hong Kong)
Admirers of Fan Ho, Hong Kong’s OG of photography, will get to peruse never-before-seen works by the legendary Rolleiflex whiz at Blue Lotus Gallery’s new Sheung Wan location. “Portrait of Hong Kong” features Ho’s last body of work before his passing, with photographs handpicked from his archive and cropped in his signature style. They all appear in a final book project of the same name. In contrast to the highly dramatized monochrome artworks Fan Ho is known for, this exhibition showcases highly natural vignettes of life in old Hong Kong, with occasional flashes of colour and whimsicality. (Fan Ho, “Balance” (1950s-60s). Image courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.)
One of the major players of the art fair circuit as official Cultural Partner with Art Basel in Hong Kong, Para Site’s gallery exhibition is a broad group show exploring classical opera and how its storytelling methods in the east and west mirror our contemporary reality. Rife with mythical, spiritual and symbolic references — particularly with the role of animals used as allegory — there’s plenty of whimsical narratives to be discovered from across the region. (Lok Chitrakar, “Healing lions drawn onto a shingles sufferer” (2019), Image credit: Sheelasha Rajbhandari)
Showcasing a collection of gallery artists at its Art Central Booth including Joe Black, Yoshitomo Nara and David Kim Whittaker, Opera Gallery is also hosting a small exhibition of the latter artist at its Wyndham Street gallery from 25 March onwards. 12 pieces by the British transgendered artist showcase his incredible silhouette portraits, created with dazzlingly detailed watercolour brushwork and broad, visceral use of oil paints.
Fans of the cross-eyed skull characters made iconic by KAWS will need to check out this comprehensive solo survey of the American artist and designer. The exhibition includes 37 works spanning a decade from 2008 and include pieces that have never been shown in Hong Kong. There will be paintings placed indoors to immense outdoor sculptures that greet the viewer right in the PMQ courtyard — Instagram shutterbugs, take note. (KAWS, “Waiting”, Image credit: KAWS and Hong Kong Contemporary Art (HOCA) Foundation)
Duddell’s invites Jérôme Sans, co-founder of the Palais de Tokyo and former director of Beijing’s UCCA, to curate their annual flagship exhibition this year. Key contemporary Chinese works from the collection of John Dodelande will be showcased at the lounge, in particular placing a spotlight on Wang Guangle and Li Shurui, who both explore the changing states of light and colour. (Li Shurui, “Light of the sky #93” / Wang Guangle, “140710” (2014); Image credits: The artist and Duddell’s Hong Kong)
Shanghai-based artist Xu Zhen made global headlines when his immersive conceptual piece, Xuzhen Supermarket, sold for HK$1.6 million at auctions last year — the first work of its kind to go under the hammer. Catch his solo exhibition at Perrotin Hong Kong this month, featuring works from his most signature series, with expansive gilded paintings and pieces expressing the clash of civilisations through time, all offering a unique lens to understand global culture today. (XU ZHEN®, “Under Heaven-Gold-0102MQ1809” (2016-2018), Image credit: Xu Zhen and Perrotin)
Austrian artist Erwin Wurm’s ongoing performance piece “One Minute Sculptures” — set pieces made for people to step in and become the artwork itself — was one of the highlights of Art Basel last year. For those who missed it, visitors to the gallery will get to participate during the artist’s first solo show in Hong Kong, as well as check out a slew of sculptures and archival pieces of past performances. (Erwin Wurm, “Untitled (Austrian mountain cap)” (2019); “Tall bag YSL” (2019), Image credit: The artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul)
Axel Vervoordt has officially moved its gallery digs to a two-storey location in Wong Chuk Hang. Celebrating the relocation, the now 8,000 sq. ft. space will be home to a group show featuring Peter Buggenhout, Kimsooja and Bosco Sodi. With its curatorial direction entrenched in Derrida’s concept of deconstruction, the show looks to break down rigid notions and welcomes new, limitless interpretations of art. It covers visceral sculptures to ever-changing public sculptures, plus works investigating states of flux in humanity, from nomadism to the changes in interpersonal relationships. (Kimsooja, “Bottari” (1998), Image credit: Jan Liégeois; Peter Buggenhout, “Gorgo #5” (2005), Image credits: Axel Vervoordt Gallery)
Lévy Gorvy gallery is inaugurating its prime 2,500 sq. ft. Hong Kong art space with a group exhibition. “Return to Nature” is what it says on the tin, showcasing highly influential artists from the east and west who have sought inspiration from the natural world. Artists include Wu Dayu, Willem de Kooning, Song Dong, Wassily Kandinsky, Claude Monet, Zao Wou-ki and more. (Wu Dayu, “Untitled-35” / Pierre Soulages, “Peinture 162 x 130 cm, 6 octobre 1963” (1963). Image credit: © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Photo: Studio SEBERT)
This Asia debut of New York-based artist David Altmejd at White Cube also marks the official representation of the artist by the gallery. He’s bringing a series of new head and bust sculptures and older works to Hong Kong for the happy occasion, with entrancing pieces that toe the line between being. In the artist’s own words, it’s “extremely seductive and extremely repulsive at the same time.” (David Altmejd, “Crystal System” (2019), © David Altmejd, Photo © Lance Brewer; “Thoth” (2019), Image credit: © David Altmejd. Courtesy White Cube)