The packed month of March has just passed and I’m getting a little breather myself during this long holiday! I’m finally getting round to talking about Art Central, the newest art fair that debuted in Hong Kong.
It was a 3-day affair from 14-16 March and I went on the second day. I didn’t know this earlier but Sundays are crazily packed days for art fairs (Art Basel sold out their online tickets for Sunday!). It was held in a giant tent on the Central Harbourfront Event Space, a newly built space with a gorgeous park around it, with gray carpeted floors and wooden planks beneath. I’m not sure if anyone else noticed, but if you stepped a little too hard and a little too near to an art piece on one of those display blocks, the art piece would wobble just slightly!!
Art Central was split into two sections: Central and Rise. Central features established galleries from Asia and beyond, while Rise features up-and-coming galleries representing emerging artists. Overall, there was a strong focus on Asian galleries with works mostly being made within these few years. Many pictures ahead and my full review of Art Central below!
Lynne Roberts-Goodwin, MORE THAN EVER Think the Mountain series, 2014, archival photographic print, .M Contemporary
Simone Rosenbauer, Like Ice In Sunshine #13; Like Ice In The Sunshine #2; Like Ice In The Sunshine #10; Like Ice In Sunshine #1 (clockwise from top left), 2014, fine art pigment print, .M Contemporary
Li Hongbo, Wood – Pier, 2014, paper, Contemporary by Angela Li
Li Hongbo, Bust of a Boy, 2013, paper, Contemporary by Angela Li
Li Hongbo’s movable paper works were a huge hit with the crowd, especially when a staff member pulled the Bust of a Boy upwards for a fun show. Even when I saw it up close, it was almost impossible to tell it was made of many layers of stacked paper.
Liang Quan, Tea and A Bit of Coffee, 2001, coffee, tea, color and ink on paper collage, Hive Center for Contemporary Art
Lü Nan, On the Road – The Catholic Church in China, 1992-1996, gelatin silver print, series of 60 photos, Hive Center for Contemporary Art
This semester, I’ve been taking a class on 19th century modern European art that I’m having the best time with. I learnt about Gustave Courbet and Jean-François Millet who were two influential French artists of the Realist movement. This might be a long stretch but Lü Nan’s The Four Seasons – Everyday Life of Tibet Peasants instantly made me think of Millet’s The Gleaners (1857) and the photograph beside it, On the Road – The Catholic Church in China gave me Courbet’s A Burial at Ornans (1849-50) vibes. Could Lü Nan have taken inspiration from these artists?
Song Ling, Meaningless Choice? No. 60, 1993, ink on paper, Hive Center for Contemporary Art
Lee Kyoung-mi, SAN FRANCISCO ON THE TABLE-HOTEL HERBERT, 2014, oil on constructed birch panel, CAIS Gallery
Nam Kyung-min, Wandering about Landscape of the Inner, 2011, oil on linen, CAIS gallery
Hong Kyoung-tack, Library Elvis pointing a gun at a dove, 2013, oil on linen, CAIS gallery
Chung Doo-hwa, Sound, 2014, book on wood, CAIS gallery
Hisao Domoto, Untitled, 1959, oil on canvas, SAKURADO FINE ARTS
This was probably the oldest work I saw at Art Central, haha! I really like the explosion of colors and the materiality of the paint – the way you can see how the oil paint has been applied and twisted around the canvas.
Zhou Jirong, Red Gate Gallery
A suit jacket, dress shirt and tie entirely made up of Ming period shards! I found it ridiculously amusing. I’d worried that valuable Ming period vases/pots/other forms of Chinese material culture were intentionally broken to form these shards, but my Chinese friend told me that there are many of these shards left in China. Great way for recycling artistic materials!
Lee Yanor, Zemack Contemporary Art
Giovanni Ozzola, Untitled with Light, 2014, ink jet print on cotton paper, Gazelli Art House
This is my favorite artwork in the entire fair. I can’t pinpoint what exactly makes it work so well for me, but I definitely love the feeling of tranquility and serenity in this photograph.
This is an interesting one. Each photo has a year printed in red across it starting from 1966 on the top left photo to 2014 on the bottom right photo. Every photo also has ‘5.16’ “written” repeatedly on the photo, a small detail easy to miss. And most interesting of all, every photo features Mao Zedong or something associated with him.
I’ll say the artwork is referencing to the Cultural Revolution, which was launched on May 16th 1966 and ended in 1976 with Mao’s death. The way the photos continue up till 2014 is left up to your interpretation.
Hiroshi Senju, Waterfall, 2014, acrylic and fluorescent pigments on Japanese mulberry paper, Sundaram Tagore Gallery
I’m a new fan of Hiroshi Senju! He paints in the Japanese nihonga style (I explained this earlier as often making use of a creamy wash to create an atmospheric effect) but his contemporary take on it is very unique to his work. I love how he retains that atmospheric feeling in his works.
Sebastião Salgado, Church Gate Station, Bombay, India, 1995, gelatin silver print, Sundaram Tagore Gallery
Sebastião Salgado, Southern right whale, Valdes Peninsula, Argentina, 2004, gelatin silver print, Sundaram Tagore Gallery
William Klein, Smoke + Veil, Paris (for Vogue), 1958; Nina & Simone, Piazza di Spagna, Roma (for Vogue), 1961; Hat with Five Roses, Barbara Mullen, Paris (top to bottom), 1956, gelatin silver prints, Hackelbury Fine Art
I’d previously seen WIlliam Klein’s three works pictured above on Artsy and it was so nice to see them for myself in real life! I would have preferred if the photographs didn’t have those neon color borders though. Dorothy blowing light smoke rings, Paris was a great discovery and I just love it. Polished and whimsical at the same time.
Mónica Dixon, Fairfield; Germantown; Hook Road (left to right), 2015, acrylic on canvas, Barnadas Huang
Vanessa Wong, Entity 016, 2015, watercolor on paper; Entity 003, 2012, acrylic print on paper; Entity 005, 2012, acrylic print on paper; Entity 016, 2014, watercolor on paper (anticlockwise from right), The Cat Street Gallery
The note writes, “I am a real rose. Please don’t touch me! Thank you.” That was the only way I could have known this rose was real! And it’s still so pretty after being painted over with gold.
Chi Chien, A Form, 2015, mixed media, Affinity for Art
Chi Chien, Indigo River; Début; Dunes (left to right), 2015, mixed media, Affinity for Art
I was very taken with Chi Chien’s works, especially with A Form. There is a nice serenity to Chi Chien’s series of works, yet those planes look like war planes, so I feel there is an underlying edge to the narrative of his works.
Ran Hwang, Healing Blossoms, 2012, paper, buttons, pins, beads on wooden panels (7 panels), Opera Gallery
Bahk Seong-hi, An Aggregation, 2013, charcoal with nylon threads, Opera Gallery
Opera Gallery’s booth was like this space of Zen in the middle of Art Central’s tent! Ran Hwang’s Healing Blossoms was a popular piece among fair-goers, and rightfully so, it’s so beautiful. Bahk Seong-hi’s An Aggregation is also a stunner. I love the atmospheric feel of this piece, and the shadows cast by the charcoal bits feel like they’re part of the artwork itself.
This one caught my eye immediately because it outlines Laocoön, a sculpture from the ancient Greco-Roman Classical period. For those interested, Laocoön is the guy who warned the Troyans not to accept the wooden horse left by the Greeks; it’s that story behind the ‘Trojan horse.’ The Greek goddess Athena and god Poseidon favored the Greeks and sent sea-serpents to kill innocent Laocoön and his two sons, and this scene is depicted in Laocoön and Lineament (Laocoon).
Chris Levine, Kate’s Light, 2013, lenticular lightbox, The FIne Art Society Contemporary
island6, Precisely the Amount of Feathers, 2013, RGB LED display, acrylic painting, paper collage, teakwood frame, Bath Street Gallery
Another Mao-related piece, albeit with more humor! This is actually a moving image, showing a housekeeper dusting a statue of Mao. You can almost hear her tsk-tsking away.
Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery
Stephan Reusse, kissing, laser scanning, 10 min loop, edition of 5, Lukas Feichtner Galerie
This moving image was pretty cool! The sexes of the two figures seem to have been deliberately left ambiguous though.
Chiho Akama, Connected Lives, 2013, Japanese paper, special resin, and acrylic resin (3 separate works); Black Currant and Wild Strawberry Cake – Santa’s Nibble, 2009, cotton, yarn, viscose, polyvinyl chloride; Garden Lovers – Orchestrated World of Nature, 2014, Japanese paper, bark, polyester resin, and acrylic resin, Dillon Gallery (left to right)
The title says it all. On a superficial note, I love the pop of colors!
Li Hui, The Captured Rhinoceros, 2012, stainless steel, PARKVIEW ART Hong Kong
Simon Roberts, Blackpool Promenade, Lancashire, 24th July, 2008, fujicolor crystal archive print, Flowers Gallery
Nadav Kander, Nanjing II, Jiangsu II (Metal Palm), 2007, chromogenic color print, Flowers Gallery
I’m not sure if Simon Roberts and Nadav Kander work together or anything like that, but I found their photographs both intriguing and strange in similar ways. It was as if I could recognize where the photographs were taken, yet at the same time, the scenes look constructed and a little fake. Both artists put a place to their photographs, but again, could they just be an illusionistic idea of the places they were depicting?
Patrick Hughes, Fondation Beyeler, 2007, oil on board construction, Flowers Gallery
Patrick Hughes, Popper, 2015, oil on board construction, Flowers Gallery
Flowers Gallery had a great selection of works, and I can safely say that Patrick Hughes’s works were the most photographed at Art Central! He creates these pieces that look flat when you look at them straight on, but they seem to move along with you as you move to see it from a different angle. That’s when you realize that there are panels sticking out from the frame with different images on different sides, as you can see with Fondation Beyeler.
Michael Wolf, Architecture of Density #108, 2008, chromogenic color print, Flowers Gallery
Lucia Tallová, Black Pearls; Fährschiffhafen in Saßnitz (left to right), 2015, acrylic on canvas, gallery VERNON
Detail of Fährschiffhafen in Saßnitz
Lucia Tallová’s cityscapes are hauntingly beautiful. I really liked the detail in Fährschiffhafen in Saßnitz, with the soft lines of the headlights and a curious polka dot pattern.
Nobuyoshi Araki, Love on the Left Eye #01, 2014, platinum and palladium print, amanasalto
I really like this one! Two very separate images placed together that somehow works. amanasalto dedicated its entire booth to Nobuyoshi Araki’s works, all of which plays with the juxtaposition of black and white images. Unfortunately, only Love on the Left Eye #01 worked for me. The right image is actually a ghostly photograph of people crossing the road, but a bit of Art Central was reflected in the photo frame!
Damien Hirst, Methylamine- 13c; 3- Methylthymidine (left to right), silkscreen print with diamond dust, Other Criteria
It was nice to see some works of Damien Hirst’s, a well-known contemporary artist, at Art Central. I’m not a fan of Hirst because I find his works too provocative or sometimes scary for me, but he fits right in with Art Central’s aesthetic.
Baden Pailthorpe, MQ-9 Reaper, 2014, HD 3D animation, color, sound, 4 min 39 sec
I’m not sure how to phrase this but Baden Pailthorpe’s MQ-9 Reaper felt kind of sci-fi-ish and otherworldly. There’s a long part when the camera pans around an airplane hovering in front of a container home with a man standing there practicing boxing moves. Again, it was both intriguing and strange at the same time.
Lee Jeong-lok, Tree of Life in Island 5-3-1, 2013, c-type print, Albemarle Gallery and Shine Artists
There were five large-scale installations Art Central categorized as Projects, and here are three that I particularly took notice of.
Stella Zhang, 0-Viewpoint-6-2, 2010, mixed media, Galerie du Monde
Lan Zhenghui, re-thINK, 2014, Ethan Cohen New York
Li Hui, Bridge, 2006, stainless steel, PARKVIEW ART Hong Kong
I hope this has given you a sense of how Art Central was! While looking at the pictures again, I realized that half of the artworks were in black and white, and the other half generally rendered in bright neon colors. I would have liked more variety overall, in medium and especially in style.
Before going to the fair, I’d read a Huffington Post review that called it “irreverent.” I have to agree – I felt that Art Central showcased the edgier side of art, with many artworks that were eye-catching but at times, provocative and even controversial. While I appreciated the range of works shown at Art Central, this style of art is not really my kind of thing so I would not be the best person to comment on that.
Of course, this has only been Art Central’s first year, and we have to see in the next year if they’ll be establishing this aesthetic farther. Art Central has definitely been successful in differentiating itself apart from Art Basel, Hong Kong’s biggest art fair, and offers a range of artworks that some would feel right at home with.