Arts + Culture
Hong Kong comes alive every winter and spring with its annual cultural fix. First comes the Hong Kong Arts Festival, which focuses on the performing arts. Then comes Hong Kong Arts Month, which focuses on the visual arts.
Hong Kong has often been likened to a cultural dessert. While that judgment might seem a bit harsh, Hong Kong is by no stretch of the imagination in the same cultural league as New York or London or Paris.
Every winter and spring, however, Hong Kong does blossom into something of a cultural oasis.
First there is the Hong Kong Arts Festival, which runs from mid-February to mid-March. Some of the world's greatest performing arts troupes – from symphony to ballet to opera to jazz – perform at venues on both sides of Victoria Harbour.
In mid- to late March, the focus switches to the visual arts with the arrival of Hong Kong Arts Month, which started out a few years back as Art Gallery Week.
There are high-profile events such as Hong Kong Art Basel and Art Central, which are aimed at both serious art collectors and the general public.
There is the Asia Contemporary Art Show, which – staged in hotel rooms rather than a large public venue – seems more commercial in nature.
Smaller scale events such as Art Gallery Night and South Island Art Day are one-day wonders, more intimate and interactive in nature, giving attendees more of a chance to interact with each other and with artists.
Of particular interest this year will be an exhibition to be staged by M+ called Ambiguously Yours: Gender in Hong Kong Popular Culture.
The exhibition will take an in-depth look at gender fluidity and androgyny in Hong Kong's popular culture in terms of Canto-pop, cinema, fashion, photography, and graphic design.
There will be more than 90 exhibits as well as talks, a teachers' private viewing, and guided tours.
And now for my personal favourite: the HKWalls Street Art Festival, which will see blank walls in yet another Hong Kong neighborhood serve as canvases to be transformed into original works of art.
I explored Sham Shui Po, site of last year's festival, with camera in hand, taking lots of pix. I also met some interesting people along the way, including a couple of entrepreneurs.
One had opened a coffee house called Sausalito and another a retail outlet.
One of the problems, I was told, was that not all businesses and property owners in Sham Shui Po had bought into the concept.
"What are you up to, and what's in it for us?" they must have wondered.
Will the community in Wang Chuk Hang – which is further along in the route to gentrification – be more receptive?
I can't wait to see what is in store for the walls of Wang Chuk Hang in March 2017!
Hong Kong Arts Month
Here's a quick look at some of the visual arts activities taking place in March and April 2017. Click on the underlined titles for a direct link to their websites.
1 March – 30 April 2017
For the third time, art from 10 resident artists of the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre will be on display at an MTR station.
MTR Central Station, Entrance/Exit J, Central, Hong Kong Island.
23 March – 25 March 2017
The fifth edition of Hong Kong Art Basel will feature artworks ranging from museum quality pieces to works by emerging artists from 242 galleries in 34 countries around the world. More than half of the galleries are based in the Asia Pacific, and 29 of them will be participating in Hong Kong Art Basel for the first time this year. Included will be paintings, sculptures, installations, videos, multiples, prints, performances – the list goes on.
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Wanchai, Hong Kong Island.
17 – 20 March 2017
Now in its 10th year, the Asia Contemporary Art Show will kick off Hong Kong Arts Month with more than 3,000 pieces of art from Asia and beyond. Included will be original paintings, sculptures, and photography, with works by both established and emerging artists. New this year will be China Perspectives and Artists Projects.
Conrad Hong Kong, Pacific Place, Admiralty, Hong Kong.
21 – 25 March 2017
Now in its third year, Art Central will feature works from more than 100 galleries around the world, with 75% of them in the Asia Pacific. The temporary canvas venue got rave reviews last year, with many attendees saying that Art Central had upstaged Art Basel.
Central Harbourfront, Hong Kong.
17 March to 21 May 2017.
An exhibition exploring gender ambiguity and androgyny in Hong Kong from the 1980's to the present with a focus on Pop Culture featuring such local legends as Leslie Cheung, Denise Ho, Roman Wong, and Anthony Wong.
M+ Pavillion, West Kowloon Cultural District, Kowloon.
20 March 2017, 6 – 8 pm.
Coordinated by the Hong Kong Art Galleries Association, Art Gallery Night will see galleries across the SAR extending their hours with special events, performances, and cocktail receptions.
Mostly at art galleries in Central and Sheung Wan.
18 – 26 March 2017.
The walls of Wang Chuk Hang, a gentrifying industrial district, will serve as a canvas for this year's HKWalls Street Festival, with an aim to transforming blank spaces into original works of art. Events will include exhibitions, film screenings, and public workshops.
Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong Island.
23 March 2017, 10 am to 2 pm
South Island Art Day is moving from September to March, with more than 20 art galleries and artists studios hosting exhibition openings, art performances, and artists talks on the south side of Hong Kong Island. Coordinated by the South Island Cultural District.
Selected galleries in Wong Chuk Hag and Tin Wan on Hong Kong Island.
Le French May
As if that were not enough to leave culture vultures gasping for breath, Hong Kong is in for two full months of culture with a Gallic flair.
Following a one month's cultural respite – you might want to schedule a trip out of town in April – Hong Kong will play host to the 24th edition of Le French May, a cultural cornucopia of music, dance, cinema, and art.
Launched in 1993, Le French May had modest beginnings, but the festival has slowly evolved into one of the most important cultural events of the year in Asia.
The schedule now runs two full months!
But it is no surprise considering that Hong Kong's expatriate French community has mushroomed over the last two and a half decades.
Once there were only a few thousand French diplomats, bankers, and educators living in Hong Kong.
The number of French nationals living in the SAR is now approaching 30,000, among them gallery owners, fashion designers, restaurateurs, and other kinds of entrepreneurs.
There will be exhibitions, films, music, and dance. Food and beverage outlets across town will also get into the act with special menus and promotions held in conjunction with Le French GourMAY , the gastronomic wing of Le French May.
Stay tuned! There will be more on Le French May 2017 in a future post as more information becomes available!