Hong Kong has arrived!

art basel hong kong 2013 china

art basel hong kong 2013 china

Thinking of Hong Kong as an art capital just ten short years ago would have been laughable, but today, it’s a reality that’s hard to deny. Last week’s Art Basel Hong Kong, which featured nearly two thousand artists and brought tens of thousands of international cultural leaders to the the convention center, confirms the city’s new direction.

Although referred to for years as “the Manhattan of Asia,” Hong Kong really couldn’t live up to the reputation due to a lack of world-class cultural events and institutions. But looking around Central’s gallery openings on Tuesday night, as well as attending many of the events over the course of the past week, there was a buzz and excitement in the air that you only find in sophisticated capitals.

Bumping into an old friend at one of Saturday’s art fair soirees, brought back memories of the old days in the city, with small batches of creative, culturally-aware people sitting around after-hours, discussing Hong Kong’s lack of creativity and connection to the greater outside world. Boy, have things changed!

andy warhol dollar sign screen print
Hong Kong used to be all about the $ (Andy Warhol’s Dollar Sign)

The reason for the shift is a combination of factors. The rise of China, the interest in art as an investment vehicle, the return of overseas Chinese with their dual nationalities and perspectives, Hong Kong’s stability and wealth, the role of brands as the new arts patrons, and the power of the Internet, have all contributed to the change.

From international hotshots, to indie, off-Basel events, there were vibrant offerings throughout the city over the past week.

Eric Haze art graffiti prodip leung exhibit abstract dimension
Eric Haze center, and local artist Prodip Leung right at his “Abstract Dimension” opening
KAWS downtime book hong kong
Artist KAWS teamed up with CLOT for a book signing in Causeway Bay
pet conspiracy beijing band hong kong hk china
Beijing band Pet Conspiracy played an Art Basel party at a warehouse space in Siu Sai Wan on Friday
jumo floating restaurant Aberdeen hong kong hk
Aberdeen’s Jumbo floating restaurant was the site of a party, Saturday

Importantly, the exhibitions weren’t just household names, accessible Pop art, or blue chip investment grade works, but also challenging, sophisticated fare.

One show of special note that you still have the opportunity to catch is “The Sum of All Evil” by the Chapman brothers, Jake and Dinos.

jake and dinos chapman installation sum of all evil
One of the most interesting recent shows is Jake & Dinos Chapman’s “The Sum of All Evil”

The exhibition, which is showing at the White Cube gallery, manages to be disturbing, outrageous, funny, and provocative all at once. White Cube is one of the few international galleries that is consistently bringing their ‘A’ game to the city, with complex and challenging shows.

Jake and Dinos Chapman – The Sum of All Evil
White Cube Gallery
Ground Floor, 50 Connaught Road, Central
Until August 31

Another standout, and a testament to the current diversity of the art scene, is a solo show by Mainland artist Zhu Jinshi at the Pearl Lam gallery.

zhu jinshi reality of paint exhibit canvas
A detail from one of Zhu Jinshi’s paintings

The smell of oil paint hits you as soon as you walk into the Pearl Lam gallery. A description inside refers to the thick applications of paint as being ‘industrial quantities’, which may be an understatement!

Zhu Jinshi’s paintings are slathered in thick waves of paint that explode from the surface of the canvas. His work is also deeply rooted in Chinese culture to ponder and absorb, but the beauty in the colors and texture alone is captivating.

Zhu Jinshi – The Reality of Paint

Pearl Lam Gallery
6/F, Pedder Building
12 Pedder Street
Central, Hong Kong
Until July 3rd

Stay tuned for more updates on upcoming arts events in Hong Kong. June is looking to have several major shows! One way of keeping in touch is to ‘Like’ Hong Kong Hustle’s Facebook page, which will then update you with our latest posts in your feed.

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