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10 must-see art exhibitions in Hong Kong this May

Hong Kong is in Francophile heaven this month: The month of May means it’s time again for our yearly concentrated dose of French wining and dining, fashion, and culture thanks to the return of cultural festival Le French May. From prized treasures from the Louvre to Parisian architectural photography, there’s plenty in store for art lovers who adore the City of Lights.

But, of course, there’s plenty of art left over for those who are looking for more. From surreal sculptures at the White Cube to site-specific Hong Kong art examining the history of century-old houses, there’s something for everyone in May. Here are the 10 art exhibitions not to miss this month.

Inventing le Louvre: From Palace to Museum over 800 years

The Louvre
165 prized pieces from the Louvre will be visiting Hong Kong this summer.

When: Through 24 July 2017

One of the exhibitions many Hongkongers are looking forward to all month is the Hong Kong Heritage Museum’s Inventing Le Louvre: From Palace to Museum over 800 years, which puts a spotlight on the most-visited museum in the world: the Louvre. This month, Le French May brings 165 priceless masterpieces from the Louvre to Hong Kong — some having never ventured out of the museum nor France itself — telling the story of the Louvre’s evolution through the centuries. Must-see pieces range from exquisite paintings and drawings to statues and artefacts from ancient civilisations. For more information, see here.

Hong Kong Heritage Museum, 1 Man Lam Road, Sha Tin, New Territories, Hong Kong, +852 2180 8188

A Golden Way of Life: Tres’Ors

A jewelled Clematis Evening Bag by Claude Lalanne, famous for her collaborations with Yves Saint Laurent.

When: Through 3 September 2017

All that shines most probably is gold when you visit MGM Macau this summer, with A Golden Way of Life: Tres’Ors bringing over 150 precious art objects to our sister SAR as part of the Le French May celebrations. If you like all things gold and beautiful, this exhibition is for you: co-organised by MGM, Tres’Ors examines the French artistry and craftsmanship of gold objets d’art, horological gems and other gilded accessories from centuries-old religious pieces to 20th-century jewels. Highlights include a gold embroidered clutch by Van Cleef and Arpels, as well as exquisite 18th- and 19th-century clocks and watches from the Musée de l’Horlogerie de Morteau.

MGM Art Space, MGM Macau, Avenida Dr. Sun Yat Sen, NAPE, Macau, +853 8802 8888

Paris Dark Light

“Paris: Elevated view on pedestrians crossing a street in winter light”, by Michel Setboun.

When: 624 May 2017

Aspiring photographers may have heard the name Michel Setboun, a former architect-turned-photojournalist who covered the handover of Hong Kong to China between 1993 and 1997 in the SAR. Returning to the city, he presents 40 monochrome photographs expressing his love for his home city, Paris, to celebrate Le French May this month. This is an exhibition for all the wanderlusters amongst us, as it captures the essence of Paris from the moment you touch down at Charles de Gaulle Airport to the photographer’s favourite places and scenes.

Atrium 1 and corridor, Harbour City, 3-27 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 2118 8666

Kong Chun-hei: Stay Away From Those Rocks

Kong Chun-hei, “The Tossing Light” (2015), engraved CRT TV, live TV channel, dimension variable

When: 6 May3 June 2017

If Mercury in retrograde hasn’t already left your mind in shambles — or if you enjoy an existential brain teaser — check out the solo show of artist Kong Chun-hei, who is noted for his versatility in employing a diverse range of media, from drawing to installation to video art. Instead of using materials as building blocks to construct and create, he purposely works to deconstruct the safe and staid living world around us, bending expectations and warping common objects to their recognisable limits.

Gallery EXIT, 3/F, 25 Hing Wo Street, Tin Wan, Aberdeen, Hong Kong, +852 2541 1299

Affordable Art Fair

Work from the 2016 edition of Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong.

When: 1921 May 2017

Surely you’ve recovered from Art Basel Hong Kong by now, so don’t skip the Affordable Art Fair, where some of the best rising talents and regional galleries are set to make appearances. Browse prints from fantastic local photographers such as the likes of William Furniss and David Elliott, as well as works from a dedicated section of new artists — great for collectors focusing on up and coming talents — and take in the upbeat fair atmosphere ,which kicks off on Thursday night with a performance from the Hong Kong Dance Company.

Hall 3DE, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, 1 Expo Drive, Wan Chai, Hong Kong; advance tickets HK$120 from HK Ticketing

Zheng Li: Reflections of the Classical Garden

Zheng Li, “Auspicious Cranes” (2002), Ink and Colour on Paper, 187 x 274 cm; Image Courtesy of the Artist and Hanart TZ Gallery

When: Through 3 June 2017

For those seasoned in the art of contemporary Chinese shanshui painting, you are likely familiar with Zheng Li, a Hangzhou-based, award-winning artist whose works are highly sought-after by public and private collections. This month, see 18 pivotal landscape works that showcase his mastery in the shanshui genre canon, such as refined gongbi and expressive brushplay, plus his own innovations to experiment with often genre-divided techniques.

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

Evolvement of Imagination

Edward Cheung, “Climbing up a mountain, Rubbing a mirror” (2017), video

When: 20 May17 June 2017

Around graduation season in Hong Kong, it’s apt to see public spotlight on the work of newly graduated fine arts Masters students, and if you’re interested to see what’s coming out of fresh Hong Kong blood, you’ll want to head to this group show at Art Experience Gallery, which is collaborating with graduates for the first time. Showcasing works by seven artists from CUHK, ranging from ceramic works, photography, as well as painting, video and mixed media installations.

Art Experience Gallery, Room 2009, 20/F, Cable TV Tower, 9 Hoi Shing Road, Tsuen Wan, New Territories, Hong Kong, +852 2110 9928

Breathing Space: Contemporary Art in Hong Kong

Adrian Wong, “The Sudden Disappearance of Charles and Belinda W.” (2012); MDF, laminate, mosaic tiles, grout, latex rubber, enamel; 47 x 101 x 20cm; Living Collection

When: Through 7 July 2017

While other galleries explore the openness of possibilities by young Hong Kong artists, Breathing Space at Asia Society looks at the perspectives of 11 handpicked local artists on the subject of the pressures of living in Hong Kong. Within the Chantal Miller gallery space, artists’ works will reflect on how our urban experiences fit into the theme of daily restrictions, whilst outdoors, newly commissioned works express how we may overcome these challenges. Participating artists include Chloe Cheuk, South Ho, Vaan Ip, Ko Sin Tung, Adrian Wong and Magdalen Wong.

Chantal Miller Gallery, Asia Society Hong Kong Center, The Hong Kong Jockey Club Former Explosives Magazine, 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty, Hong Kong, +852 2103 9511

Rachel Kneebone: Ovid in Exile

Rachel Kneebone, “Daphne” (2015), Porcelain; © Rachel Kneebone. Photo © White Cube (Ben Westoby)

When: 27 May19 August 2017

On at the White Cube this month you’ll find sculptures that strangely resemble twisted bleached coral, crushed animal vertebrae, or undulating fractals of doll parts: Yes, they’re works by British sculptor Rachel Kneebone, and no, they’re not quite any of those. Concerned with expressing emotional states, Kneebone’s exhibition deals with the ideas of transformation and renewal, what it means to inhabit a body, its limitations versus its cognitive possibilities, illustrated through detailed works that become mind-boggling words of their own.

White Cube Hong Kong, 50 Connaught Road Central, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2592 2000

Hi! Houses (haai hau, lou forng zi/xie hou, lau fangzi (邂逅! 老房子))

Wilson Shieh’s work at Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum.

When: Through 9 July 2017

The Hong Kong housing situation is perhaps the number one issue on everyone’s minds these days. In the minds of four local artists, however, old Hong Kong homes provide insightful and valuable slices of history from which we can learn the stories and ways of life from its previous inhabitants. Translating from its Chinese title of haai hau/xie hou (邂逅), or Encounter, this government-organised exhibition takes seasoned Hong Kong artists Wilson Shieh, Lam Tung-pang, Fiona Wong and Jaffa Lam to four iconic century-old houses in Hong Kong create site-specific works examining the past. At Dr, Sun Yat-sen Museum, see comical works by illustrator Wilson Shieh; at the Old House at Wong Uk Village, see the whimsical drawings by Lam Tung-pang; at Law Uk Folk Museum, you can catch salt-baked sculptures by Fiona Wong and her team; and at Tsuen Wan’s Sam Tung Uk Museum, Jaffa Lam’s poetic lantern works are best experienced between 56pm.

For more information see here.

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.