A quick writeup of the other four exhibitions ongoing at the Hong Kong Museum of Art! They provide a good contemporary art counterpart to the older works in the The Four Gentlemen exhibition. Here are my favorites and highlights!
1. Donation of Works by Wu Guanzhong 2014
This exhibition is located in the same space with The Four Gentlemen, and it was fun to turn the corner from Chinese historical and modern art to Chinese contemporary art! As noted in the exhibition title, it showcases newly donated works of Wu’s by his family to the Museum.
Wu Guanzhong, A lotus pond (Double stamp), dated 1995, horizontal scroll, ink and color on paper
I love how Wu updates the use of the traditional Chinese medium of ink and color on paper. He continues to work with varying tones of ink but renders his subjects in new abstract forms. The lotuses are mostly painted in black ink moving in different directions so it may be a little hard to identify what he’s drawing (without looking at the title first, ha!), but he gives a clear hint with his colored lotuses.
I find this so refreshing. Abstract art can be fun and interesting in its own way, but sometimes when intentional depictions of things in real life are a little too abstract, I’ll feel… surprised/confused/muddled.
The spots of color scattered across the painting might seem a little random when you see it up close, but I think it adds a sense of energy along with the strong ink brushstrokes.
Wu Guanzhong, Puzzlement, dated 1998, horizontal scroll, ink and color on paper
The first thing I thought when I saw Puzzlement was that it is Jackson Pollock-esque, he of action paintings and energetic splashes of paint all across his large canvases. It’s impressive that Wu managed to achieve that kind of effect with ink and color on paper instead of oil on canvas.
Puzzlement doesn’t seem to be made with that spirit in mind though, since the tangled lines and random spots of color are meant to represent the “bits and pieces in the painter’s anxious mind and fragmented memory,” as mentioned in the Artist’s Statement.
Wu Guanzhong, A fishing harbour, dated 1997, horizontal scroll, ink on paper
This is a favorite of mine! Again, this piece departs from the traditional look of an ink painting except that there is still a name and red seal at the bottom left of the painting. I love the detail of the splattered ink, that I’m thinking is the effect from flicking your finger over the brush. It’s done so precisely and adds a really nice touch to the painting, like it’s sunlight reflecting off the water.
Wu Guanzhong, Leaping, dated 1996, oil on canvas
This is another favorite! Honestly, when I saw it from afar, I was a little confused and unimpressed – I thought it was a white fish floating in a mass of black. But of course, it’s all about going up close to see the details. The painting shows a realistically depicted ripple of water entirely rendered in black. Instead of using the (perhaps easier) option of ink, Leaping is done with oil on canvas.
Wu masters the art of both ink and oil painting and I find it very interesting how he subverts expectations in his use of mediums in his various paintings.
Location: Chinese Fine Art Gallery (4/F)
2. Random Moments
This is a small exhibition made up of video art, and is titled as such since there is no central theme to the works. I have to say that I am not particularly interested in video art but it’s always nice to see more types of art! The exhibition space was sectioned off into different areas/rooms for each piece, most with a bench placed in front of the screenings so you can sit and watch them!
Tsui Ngai, Miranda, Shoe-stories, 2001, video and digital image, approx. 44 mins
The highlight of the exhibition for me was Tsui’s Shoe-stories which is a widescreen black-and-white video divided into three sections, each alternatively cutting to different people’s shoes.
The title pretty much says it all, and I found it fascinating how the way people sit and position their feet, their choice of shoe-wear, the pattern or print of their shoe, and their little feet-tics can actually lead us to form an impression of the person. It’s commendable how Tsui recognised this as a potential subject for documentation and presents it in a sophisticated manner.
I was including my shoe-story here – this is me interacting with art! ;)
Location: Historical Pictures Gallery (3/F)
3. Tempting Touch – the Art of Tong King-sum
This is an exhibition of Hong Kong sculptor Tong King Sum’s works made with different types of wood. When you enter the gallery, you are greeted with Unfinished Work that Tong was preparing for an exhibition for the Hong Kong Visual Arts Society, but he passed away before the sculpture could be completed. Tong had drawn various markings over it and there is a large incision on the left as well.
Tong King Sum, Unfinished Work, 2007, teak
There is also a sculptor studio set in the exhibition, but I’m not sure if it’s supposed to represent how Tong’s studio looked like or if it’s a general impression of an artist’s workshop. Anyhow, I found it interesting how there was a mix of real items, such as the saw and shoes on the ground and the cap hanging off the rack, and fake styrofoam items made to look real, like most of the tools hanging on the wall.
Location: Contemporary Hong Kong Art Gallery (2/F)
4. All Are Guests – Homecoming
All Are Guests – Homecoming features a mix of works by Hong Kong artists and here are my highlights!
Chow Chun Fai’s Reproducing ‘Hong Kong Our Home Theme Song’ is an impressive sight that spans three walls, made up of small paintings meant to represent the various facets of Hong Kong from the point of view of a “guest.” The paintings are all taken together to form a video, or you could take it that the paintings are “screenshots” of the video on the right wall. Please excuse the photo quality, the lighting was not good for taking photos!
Chow Chun Fai, Reproducing ‘Hong Kong Our Home Theme Song,’ 2014, paintings and video
Leung Mee Ping’s Out of Place is a mix of video installations shown on both sides of cloth-like screens that were assembled in a maze-like way with speakers situated above each screen. It felt surreal to me, as you walk around, you feel like you’re experiencing the city along with what you see on the screens.
Leung Mee Ping, Out of Place, 2014, video installation
Leung took these videos in the Asian cities Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Shenzhen, Tokyo and Varanasi. She focuses on the experiences of city drifters who live in these cities but have somehow been cast aside in the public mindset of what the city represents. In the video captured in the first photo above, Leung follows an old man as he walks through Hong Kong, who seems strangely unaffected by all the bustle going on around him, lost in his own world. And really, who thinks of Hong Kongers in this way?
I was standing in the middle of all that and I almost missed seeing myself in this photo again! ;)
Location: Special Exhibition Gallery (2/F)
This wraps up my weekend trip to the Hong Kong Museum of Art! Do check out the exhibitions while they’re still ongoing at:
Hong Kong Museum of Art
10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Mondays to Fridays 10:00am – 6:00pm
Saturdays, Sundays & Public Holidays 10:00am – 7:00pm
Closed on Thursdays (except public holidays)
Standard Ticket $10
Concession Ticket $5