All posts filed under: City

Interior Materialism[s]

By Gerhard Bruyns One of the most daunting challenges of all design endeavours is the material expression of ideas and intentions. Historically, the very first attempts at materialising ideas have in some way been challenged. First, designers consider the technical skills needed to express the idea. Second, they question the material at hand to give the idea a form or body. And third, they search for the stylistic language most suited to the idea. For the ancient Greeks, the challenge was to achieve material perfection in either architectural or human form. Architectural perfection lay within the classical orders of the Doric or Ionic orders that guided the way that building facades had to be designed. The composition of each facade, the elements it contained and the proportions of each section of a facade were the driving concerns. The geometric simplicity of the Doric order’s column capital influenced a specific material composition compared to the Ionic order’s curvatures and edges. Each Greek temple was devised in a similar order, where the perfection lay in the proportional orders of the plan: usually in a 1:3 ratio between the main entrance …

An Empty Apartment. A Painting. Afternoon: Law Man Lok at Things That Can Happen

By Michele Chan Opening with the starkest, barest of scenes – “A country. A tree. Evening.” – Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot sends viewers on a reflexive rummage for revelation and meaning. There is an analogous barren yet expectant vacuity in the closing exhibition at things that can happen in Sham Shui Po: the door opens onto an empty Hong Kong apartment, its walls painted deep grey, and the eye falls on a sole painting hung near the far right corner in which Dumbo, wraith-like and ethereal in orange pastel hues, hovers mid-flight against a background of electric yellow. The only other work in the room, displayed on the wall opposite, is the diptych He-Man & She-Ra (2015), two garish superhero murals executed in the shabby vintage style signature to Hong Kong artist Law Man Lok, aka Lawman. A sense of stagnant expectation pervades, Beckettian with a whimsical twist: He-Man and She-Ra are frozen mid-transformation; Dumbo is trying to fly; and Things’ two-year-old space in Sham Shui Po is set to close, while its founders, artist Lee Kit …

Ha Bik Chuen

Ha Bik Chuen’s Archive of Determination By John Batten For over 50 years, Hong Kong artist Ha Bik Chuen (1925-2009) built a large collection of art-exhibition catalogues, art books, magazines and clippings from newspapers and other printed matter. Often accompanied by his wife or children, Ha also photographed every art exhibition he visited, and his photograph archive comprises hundreds of boxes of prints, contact sheets and negatives. Now known as the Ha Bik Chuen Archive and featuring thousands of individual pieces, it is a historical collection of Hong Kong art and Ha Bik Chuen’s resources, a glimpse of past international art trends and a personal record of Hong Kong’s art scene between the 1960s and 2000s. The collection was formerly housed in Ha’s crowded home and its rooftop in Shim Luen Street, To Kwa Wan, where his family kept everything intact after his death, as he wished. It has now been boxed and relocated to a Fo Tan industrial unit where the Asia Art Archive began a three-year project in 2016, funded by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, to catalogue …

Speculative Cartography

By Gerhard Bruyns and Peter Hasdell On Exactitude in Science: In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. Succeeding Generations… came to judge a map of such Magnitude cumbersome… In the western Deserts, tattered Fragments of the Map are still to be found, sheltering an occasional Beast or beggar; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography. Purportedly from Travels of Prudent Men by Suárez Miranda, Book Four, Chapter XLV, Lérida, 1658; from A Universal History of Infamy by Jorge Luis Borges, 1935 Jorge Luis Borges’ On Exactitude in Science examines as speculative instruments the applications, skills and techniques of cartography, and can be understood as a critique both of …

Gerard d’Alton Henderson

A Total Embrace By Alexandra A Seno In the autumn of 1963, a new luxury hotel opened in the heart of Hong Kong’s Central district. The 27-floor Mandarin Oriental boasted state-of-the-art amenities such as the city’s first phone system that allowed guests to make direct calls to outside numbers, and switchboard operators to activate an in-room light informing occupants of missed calls. Befitting such a cosmopolitan operation, the hotel’s owners chose an artist based in Spain to create the property’s most prominent features. A rising star with a growing international following, he was of European and Chinese descent, and seemed to have just the right style for the large, dramatic murals in the lobby and the Mandarin Grill restaurant, as well as mosaics for the rooftop swimming pool area. This is how most of Hong Kong was first introduced to Gerard d’Alton Henderson. In the final two decades of British rule, Henderson — who was born in Malaysia and grew up in Singapore — was the artist to know in the Crown Colony. The best households had to …

Hi! Houses A rejuvenation of Hong Kong heritage

In Hong Kong many heritage buildings have been destroyed or neglected, and the government has only had a heritage-preservation policy since very recently. Its Art Promotion Office invited four Hong Kong artists to revitalise four centuries-old houses in different corners of the territory, using art as a subtle but powerful tool to link the past with the present and revive collective memory. The exhibitions recall in particular the Hakka heritage of Hong Kong, the commercial prosperity of the city during the 19th century and its role during the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty through the figure of Sun Yat-sen. All the heritage buildings connect Hong Kong with the history of China from different perspectives, at a time when the question of identity is particularly strongly contested. The artists’ research involved meeting descendants of the clans, neighbours, guards and village elders, in order to collect micro-histories, which they mixed with their own stories and historical events. They thus became storytellers, weaving fiction and reality to transform archives, empty walls and facts into vivid contemporary experiences. The cultural heritage consists not …

There are no misinterpretations of nothing

By Winnie Lai Artist Tsang Kin Wah represented Hong Kong in last year’s Venice Biennale and has brought home a continuation of his quest for life’s ultimate meaning at the M+ Pavilion. This time the exhibition programme also includes the Misguided Tours, in which three curators who have previously worked with Tsang shared their alternative interpretations of the work. After The Infinite Nothing in Venice, nothing in Hong Kong takes the artist’s attempt to realise endlessness and perpetuity to another level. This time he wants to visualise and present nothingness: a personal visualisation of being under a nihilistic spell, and a manifestation of responses to realising the futility of life. It isn’t a straightforward or light-hearted work to digest. The Misguided Tours are an effort to counter the idea that there is an official way to understand art. Everyone has a blind spot; other people’s perspectives can dispel preconceptions and expand the understanding of a work. Tsang, a fan of Nietzsche, who famously said that ‘There are no facts, only interpretations’, would agree. nothing is the first show at the M+ Pavilion, …

Mill6

Warm Up, the latest programme organised by non-profit art organisation Mill6 Foundation, had some ambitious objectives: revitalising handicrafts, passing on Hong Kong’s cultural heritage, fostering neighbourhood connections, bridging the gap between generations, and reviving knowledge of textiles and garments. Caroline Ha Thuc speaks to the foundation’s director Angelika Li and curator Him Lo. What was your vision for the event, and how do you deal with so many topics and communities at the same time? Angelika Li: Mill6 is a unique establishment. It was once a factory space for textiles, and we are rejuvenating it to become, by 2018, a space for textile arts and culture, heritage and innovation. We are developing six different programmes and approaches: exhibitions, community engagement, learning, heritage, artist-in-residency and public art. We also have several different target audiences, as well as different partners and collaborators. With each project we must therefore consistently ask the questions: What are the purpose and the meaning? What cause does it serve? How can we be sustainable? What are the inherent values? Our focus is clearly …

A portrait of the artist as an emergency

In January 2016 Patrick Healy, Amsterdam based philosopher and artist, was invited by the School of Design [The Hong Kong Polytechnic University], to conduct a series of PhD and research seminars. With Patrick in Hong Kong for 3 weeks, and knowing him for a number of years, it provided us an ideal opportunity to – not only – reminisce about old times but use the lunch time discussion to understand how his philosophical position, artistic research and personal interest intersect. The following discussion was the result of this discussion exposing the man behind the philosopher in the process of becoming himself. By Gerhard Bruyns Artomity: You’re a philosopher, performance artist, painter, sculptor, educator and writer. When and how did you get the idea of combining art and philosophy? Patrick Healy: Well, during my studies of philosophy – at almost the very end of my formal studies – we started reading Nietzsche. In itself that was considered very daring because my teachers mostly specialised in metaphysics and medieval and ancient philosophy. So it was almost like …

A Vision in ink

Following the success of the inaugural Ink Asia fair last year, expectations for the second edition are high. Artomity talked to its director Calvin Hui about the cultural aspirations and market vision driving the world’s first art fair dedicated to modern and contemporary ink. By Charlotte Chang What was the concept behind creating a fair specialising in ink art?  From the beginning I was not only concerned about the market but also strove to define a mission. I have long been a collector and lover of contemporary ink, because I think ink is the most important language of our cultural tradition. But I felt that resources in this field in China were often not put to good use. The DNA of ink culture – its core spirit – is in our blood as Chinese people. I knew that this shared cultural understanding would allow a fair dedicated to ink to build a very strong connection with the audience. I believed that, coupled with the steadily increasing popularity of ink art in the region, commercial success would follow. How does Ink …