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The Hong Kong Art Scene

You don’t need to wave a paddle at Sotheby’s to enjoy art in Hong Kong. Leanne Mirandilla learns more about the homegrown heroes of the local arts scene.

May 27, 2013

There’s no denying that Hong Kong’s arts scene has exploded in the past year. With international giants such as Gagosian Gallery and White Cube opening their first Asian outposts in the city, and our galleries earning a reputation on a par with their counterparts in New York and London, interest in art has risen like never before. But while the money from art investors might be pouring in, what about the local scene? Well, that’s taking off, too, with passionate people uncovering innovative ways to bring art into our everyday lives. From art collectives that organize impromptu exhibitions in alleyways and MTR cars to independent outlets that aim to give up-and-comers a break by helping to display their works, art in Hong Kong has never been so interesting.

Featuring and edited by Grace Brown; shot by Derek Bullen.

The Art Issue:

Taking Art to the Street
Window Shopping
Art for a New Audience
Industrial Creativity

Walk This Way

The annual ArtWalk returns on March 14.

Since its inception 12 years ago, ArtWalk’s popularity hasn’t flagged—the one-night-only charity art event boasted 1,500 attendees last year. On March 14 from 5pm to midnight, the public can explore 66 galleries spread throughout Central, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and Aberdeen while enjoying wine, beer and nibbles provided by each venue.

Artworks of every medium from all corners of the world will be on display at the galleries, but ArtWalk is dedicated to supporting local artists, too. For instance, in ArtWalk Extra, most of the programming is more performance-based and (we dare say) more unusual. Of these additional events, some are at fixed locations while others will take place around the streets of SoHo and Sheung Wan. For example, Fotanian artists Damon Tong, Stephanie Sin and Timothy Zau will be giving a live performance by cleaning the windows of each participating gallery, and William Lane of the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble will be wheeling around a modded hawker’s trolley, which will be showing videos and recordings of various Hong Kong street musicians.

ArtWalk has successfully raised more than $5 million over the years for various charities; last year, $400,000 was raised for the Society for Community Organization (SoCO), which aids Sham Shui Po inhabitants struggling with poverty as well as refugees, new immigrants and former prisoners. Proceeds from this year’s ticket sales will also go to SoCO.

Tickets are $450 (cash only) from various galleries along Hollywood Road and Wyndham Street. For more details, go to www.hongkongartwalk.com.

Arts Smarts

We asked our readers about their culture consumption—turns out everyday Hongkongers are pretty art-savvy.

I loved the Philippe Ramette display of work along the Avenue of Stars and Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s photography shown at Olympic. Showing art in a different way is always good, rather than just showing art in a gallery.
Melanie Farr

My favorite event is ArtWalk—not only is it a fabulous event with lots of really exciting art, but you also never quite know what you'll find or who you see. Finally, it almost always seems to fall on my birthday—the best-ever ready-made birthday party.
Ruth Bailey

My girlfriend and I visit the art center in Shek Kip Mei once in a while. A gallery we recently came across in Tai O called the Flanhardt Galerie und Atelier is also a highlight.
Rudmer Hoekstra

My favorite local artsy activity is to do [group painting classes] with friends who are not necessarily good at painting or drawing. It’s good enough to have fun for a couple of hours on a lazy weekend afternoon!
Cecilia Chan

I usually visit vintage shops from Wan Chai to Sheung Wan. It’s intriguing to see the stories each shop [contains].
Angelica Catalan