Extended! ‘The Empty Gallery’ in Hong Kong offers Asian debut of Edward S. Curtis photos –Till March 5

A visit to Hong Kong’s Empty Gallery is a jarring sensory and emotional experience, but not in a way you might expect.



A visit to The Empty Gallery in Hong Kong is a jarring sensory and emotional experience, but not in the way you might expect.

Don’t be deterred when the lift opens on the 19th floor to inky blackness– it’s all part of the experience. Take heart there is indeed a fabulous gallery waiting to be discovered beyond the apparent black abyss, and grope your way to the left. If all else fails, give them a ring (as this avid art watcher did, wondering, could this really be the right place?) and they’ll kindly let you in to a dimly lit interior. Your adventures will be rewarded with one of the most unique gallery experiences out there, all in complete darkness. (Yes, I might have bumped into a wall once..)

The Empty Gallery
Image courtesy of The Empty Gallery.


‘Gallery in the dark’

The Empty Gallery’s concept of a ‘gallery in the dark’ at first seems surprising– after all, how does one encounter visual art in the dark?! And yet, elevating the experience of art by isolating the senses is precisely the mission of this unusual art space, which comprises an impressive 3,000 square feet in the industrial Tin Wan neighborhood of Hong Kong’s South Island Cultural District. Impeccably precise spotlights provide the only light to view the artworks, creating a meditative atmosphere that forsakes all distraction. The Empty Gallery is remarkable in its dedicated approach to experiencing art in darkness, and is perhaps the only gallery of its kind– a representative of The Empty Gallery shares:

“We haven’t heard of any other place to have similar concept as gallery-in-the-dark… We are quite unique in this sense.”

‘The Man Who Sleeps On His Breath’

The current show of Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952) photogravures, ‘The Man Who Sleeps On His Breath,’ is eerily well-suited for the gallery’s somber atmosphere. Complete with a commissioned otherworldly soundscape by Italian electroacoustic musician Valerio Tricoli, both sight and sound allude to the mystery and tragedy of the North American Indian’s tale. Be aware though, collectors hoping to procure a historically significant Edward S. Curtis photogravure print will be disappointed, as the pieces on view are part of the gallery owner’s private collection and not for sale, although works from previous shows have been available to buyers. This is the third exhibition offered by The Empty Gallery, which opened in March 2015.

Edward S. Curtis, The Empty Gallery
Image courtesy of The Empty Gallery.

A complete acquisition

In a triumphant acquisition of a key creative project documenting American history, the owner of The Empty Gallery, Stephen Cheng, managed to obtain the entire 700-plus work, 20-volume set of the fabled American photographer’s ‘North American Indian’ series. Of this impressive procurement, Cheng tells the South China Morning Post:

“It is the greatest photography project of all times. I jumped at the chance to  buy the whole portfolio… The photographs are problematic from an ethnographic or anthropological point of view, but I am most interested in the artist Curtis… The images are magical.”

Debut of Edward S. Curtis in Asia

The Empty Gallery confirms this to be the first exhibition in Asia showing Curtis’ original prints. The gallery aims to share a selection of the more obscure images from the collection which highlight Curtis’s mastery of visual styling and photographic skill, expanding awareness beyond the familiar ‘Geronimo’ portraiture for which he is commonly known. Commissioned in 1906 by American financier J.P. Morgan and the U.S. government, the project encompassed more than 20 years and documented the last gasps of a culture slipping away. Although the photographs have received criticism from ethnohistorians for Curtis’s questionable biographical practices– essentially documenting modern, marginalized 20th-century people ‘dressing up’ in their long-castaway cultural relics– his body of work remains the finest, most dedicated photographic impressions of the indigenous peoples of North America, a culture lost. Set within the unique darkness of The Empty Gallery, this is a notable, must-see show.

On till March 5, 2016– catch it while you can. And word to the wise: take lift #4.

The Empty Gallery
19/F, Grand Marine Industrial Building
3 Yue Fung Street
Tin Wan, Hong Kong
t. 2563 3396

November 7, 2015-March 5, 2016

Related Posts:


Follow @Urban_DNA on Instagram for a running feed of art in Hong Kong.







New mural! 90 meter Barlo painting depicts ‘Nature of Knowledge’ – PHOTOFEAST

In what is apparently Hong Kong’s longest continuous mural created by a single fine artist, Barlo voices HKIEd students’ views on education and the Umbrella Revolution.


In what is apparently Hong Kong’s longest continuous mural undertaken by a single fine artist, Barlo has realized an allegorical vision of the Monkey King mythology beside the Hong Kong Institute of Education’s athletic fields. The sprawling work depicts seven scenes (measuring 3.5 meters high and approximately 90 meters long) and lends a contemporary, Hong Kong-style twist to the traditional tale of the Monkey hero.

An Italian painter who has adopted Hong Kong as his home in recent years, Barlo was approached by the Nomads HK student association to express their views on education in Hong Kong. Particularly, students voiced concern regarding a high-pressure culture prizing exam performance at the expense of real learning. The artist says,

“Considering that this Institute is responsible of forming the next generation of teachers, the work aims to remind students that education is something deeper. It should be based on a genuine curiosity and a desire for knowledge and encourage them to embark upon a personal journey to reach self awareness and develop a critical mind.”

Executed in emulsion paint and brush, the wall was created in 16 intense days spanning 2 months, and was completed on 2 November, 2015. Barlo credits the Nomads students for making the wall possible and assisting him throughout the entire process.

The final result is visual storytelling the length of an entire football field with metaphorical references to Chinese folklore and Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution. It is all set in a magical forest, which appropriately reflect the wooded surroundings of the Institute that offered endless inspiration to the artist.

The mural is notable in Hong Kong not only for its cohesive length but also its introspective subject matter dealing with the social aftermath of the Umbrella Revolution– apparently the first publicly sanctioned piece of muralism to address the city’s collective grasp for meaning following the great protest. However, despite the sensitivity of the subject matter, there was no controversy surrounding the making of the artwork. Barlo shares:

“I think that’s because I used a natural metaphor to represent the subject. Probably at a first glance people.. thought it was just a decorative mural making use of animals and jungle and didn’t spend much time looking at it properly. And also as an artist, I don’t like being too obvious so the entire project was always a balance between direct references to the Umbrella Revolution as well as a more generic sentiment towards knowledge and its role in our society.”

Check out this epic work for yourself at the football field on the HKIEd main campus.

Hong Kong Institute of Education [Main Campus]
10 Lo Ping Road
Tai Po, New Territories


:::::Nature of Knowledge:::::

Photographs by William Wan.

Artwork by Barlo.

Nature of Knowledge total

NoK -  Wall 1
Scene 1: “The discovery of fire” symbolizing knowledge

NoK -  Wall 1 detail

Scene 2: ‘The Yan Emperor,’ referring to the traditional figure of the ‘flame emperor’ as sage.

NoK -  Wall 2 detail

NoK -  Wall 3
Scene 3: “Knowledge leads to Revolution.” The central figure is based upon the myth of the Monkey King, with the yellow flag a reference to Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement.

NoK -  Wall 3 detail

NoK -  Wall 4
Scene 4: “In between”. A depiction of those that haven’t taken any side in a protest and are often caught between the circumstances.

NoK -  Wall 4 detail

NoK -  Wall 5
Scene 5: “Repression”; the reaction of establishment to protest.

NoK -  Wall 5 detail

NoK -  Wall 6
Scene 6: “Resolution,” or personal revolution. Protest awakens a social consciousness and genuine desire for knowledge that needs to be nourished, like a fire to be kept alive within our soul.”

NoK -  Wall 6 detail

NoK -  Wall 7
Scene 7: “Knowledge is the only way to keep your predators away.”

NoK -  Wall 7 detail

Related Posts:



Follow @Urban_DNA on Instagram for a running feed of Hong Kong street art.


‘House of Vans’ skater on Hong Kong skate culture – plus learn to skate! – Interview

What do skateboarding and street art culture have in common in Hong Kong? UrbanDNA investigates with Hong Kong-based, Vans-sponsored skateboarder Piet Guilfoyle.


What do skateboarding and street art culture have in common in Hong Kong? UrbanDNA investigates with Hong Kong-based, Vans-sponsored skateboarder Piet Guilfoyle, who suggests that ‘certain ideologies’ are associated– particularly personal freedom and creativity. Certainly both practices require a creative reimagining of shared urban space and often test boundaries of the physically (and legally!) possible.

Join Piet this weekend at House of Vans to learn or improve upon your skate technique. He says, “Young and old, all are welcome. Instructors will be there to take care of you, you can’t go wrong. It’s not as dangerous as it looks. We encourage people with absolutely no experience to try!” Boards are provided– if you’ve been itching to learn to skate, here’s your opportunity!

Read on for Piet’s views on Hong Kong skate culture and tips to skating in the SAR– including his professional opinion of the city’s superior skate park.

‘House of Vans’ Skate Workshop

Pier 4, Central, Hong Kong

Oct 17 & 18, each day from 2-3pm and 5-6pm

Register online here

Piet Guilfoyle skates in Hong Kong. Image courtesy of House of Vans.

:::::Piet Guilfoyle & UrbanDNA | October 6, 2015:::::

How long have you been skateboarding, and how did you learn to skateboard?

Over ten years– I taught myself. I grew up in New Zealand, Australia, and Hong Kong. I learned to skate in New Zealand. I’ve been around skateboarding for a long time but I wasn’t passionate about it until I moved to Hong Kong.

Did you find more opportunities to skateboard in Hong Kong?

Not really. There were way more opportunities to skateboard in New Zealand but skateboarding in Hong Kong for me was like a reaction to not having anything else to do that I liked or found interesting in Hong Kong. When I moved to Hong Kong I came from a public school into an international school, which was a big change from the other students that I was meeting… I’d come from a background of music and arts… In Hong Kong, it’s like the complete opposite… I just found myself skating every single day… Vans was starting their skate program in Asia, which was primarily China and Hong Kong, and I was just in the right place at the right time.

So you’ve seen the skate culture really change and develop here?

Yea, definitely. There’s a lot more skaters and the skill level is always getting better. You see new kids all the time. Hong Kong is quite weird because each community is generally very close knit. Then, within that you have different districts. Kids don’t really want to travel too far to go skate. You just want to skate on your street, in your neighborhood. My neighborhood happened to be, like, Causeway Bay–basically Hong Kong Island.

Is there any point where Hong Kong skaters all come together? A competition?

There are competitions, they’re always in the summer, which is crazy because it’s the hottest time of the year. Go Skateboarding Day is June 21st every year. Then if Vans puts on an event you’ll see everyone come out to party and see each other. Go Skateboarding, it’s a worldwide event.

Where is Go Skateboarding held in Hong Kong?

It changes locations. This year it was in a new skate park called Po Kung Village. The year before that it was in Tseung Kwan O Skate Park. The year before that, it was in Mei Foo skate park. They change skate parks every year to keep it lively or interesting. This year we did Go Skateboarding day at Po Kong Village, and there’s a helmet rule. Actually, the helmet rule applies everywhere but it’s most strictly enforced at the Po Kong Village Park.

Where is your favorite skate park in Hong Kong, and why?

Fanling at On Lok Mun Road… [I like] the surface. At all the other parks the surface is like sandpaper, so it doesn’t allow your wheels to do the sliding things– power slides. You can’t move your wheels. When you fall on it, it isn’t very forgiving, it’s like a carpet burn. The surface at Fanling is perfect but it’s the furthest away. It’s like one stop from the border so it’s as far as you can go, but it’s the best skate park, all because of the surface.

Piet Guilfoyle in Hong Kong. Image courtesy of House of Vans.

Do you see graffiti and skate culture being closely associated in Hong Kong?

It definitely has a history, but maybe not nowadays. Skate boarding and graffiti were very linked together in the mid to late 90’s. But [skateboarders and street artists]– we all share something in common. ‘Starting From Zero’ or just expressing yourself, doing whatever you want, whether it’s illegal or not. What we’re doing isn’t hurting anybody, so therefore– we should kind of be allowed to do it. It’s about personal freedom and having a creative outlet… There are certain ideologies that are associated. That is what we share.

And it can be quite dangerous too– I assume when you were learning to skate there was a lot of trial and error?

That’s all it is. You spend all the time on the ground. You fall more often than you land. If it’s out of 100 tries, and you’re learning something, you’re going to land it once in 100 times. You’ll land it once, then twice every hundred times, then three– depending on what you’re doing you become more comfortable with it and technically get better at doing it until you’re consistent.

Did you ever get any injuries?

Yea, not anything huge at one time, but my everything hurts all the time… I’ll get a big swollen hip so I can’t really sleep on one side, or my knees hurt, and I’ll have to chill for a month or two… Take glucosamine tablets and eat better… Sleep better… not fall on that hip!

What will you be teaching at the Vans workshop?

Skateboarding, the basics! We’ll have a mini ramp, about 1.6 meters tall, we’ll have a big flat bottom section where we can teach people to push forwards and backwards, turn, kick turn, and once people are comfortable they can progress from starting at the bottom of the ramp and going up. That’s the basics. Anyone with an advanced level who just wants to drop in, we can teach them basic tricks.

Bradley from the Vans Skate Team in Hong Kong. Image courtesy House of Vans.

Do you have a favorite skate move?

No, I just like riding around, the act of skating. If you’ve got a hill that just goes on forever­– my perfect spot would be a big hill that never ends, not too steep, not too mellow, just rolling. I’m not really into tricks– I’m not a ‘technical skater’. I’m not going to out-trick you. I just like the feeling, whatever feels the best or sounds the best, because the wheels make noise.

What kind of shoes do you need to wear?

Just flat-soled shoes… Vans are perfect. Anything with a flat sole though.

Do people need to bring their own boards?

No, we’ll supply all the boards and protective equipment, instructors, everything. You’ve just got to register online and show up. There’s a cap of 10 people per session and each session is an hour long, and there’s 4 sessions total.

Is there any age limit or physical requirement for joining the Vans workshop?

No. If you have legs, young and old, all are welcome. Instructors will be there to take care of you, you can’t go wrong. It’s not as dangerous as it looks. We encourage people with absolutely no experience to try! It’s a lot more fun that way– they’ll have a lot more fun than people who already know how to do it. The people who don’t know how to do it will very quickly find out it’s not that hard. It’s just a lot of mental barriers.


Erin Wooters Yip

Related Posts:

Creative Evolution: Learn woodworking from Hong Kong’s ST/ART collective – Interview October 2015

HKwalls 2015: Promising growth for Hong Kong’s street art festival – Photofeast – April 2015

Lost art: Without street policy, history will repeat – January 2015

‘HKwalls’ street art festival coming soon to Sheung Wan – Interview May 2014



Follow @Urban_DNA on Instagram for a running feed of Hong Kong street art

Creative evolution: Learn woodworking from Hong Kong’s ST/ART collective – Interview

Dom Chan from Start From Zero, the city’s original urban art collective, discusses street art and his passion for woodworking with UrbanDNA.


As trailblazers in Hong Kong’s street art and fashion scenes, Start From Zero is the city’s original old school urban art collective. Led by Dom Chan, this creative house embodies the fierce and adaptable spirit necessary for artists to survive and make art in the SAR. UrbanDNA catches up with Dom to discuss his street art works and current focus on woodworking, and he shares the technique for his early stencil works– PowerPoint! Dom will lead woodworking workshops with House of Vans on October 17 and 18– even the most novice woodcrafter can learn to create a handmade stool from Hong Kong’s urban art legend. Build your skills with Dom at House of Vans or the impressive, fully outfitted Start From Zero woodcrafting workshop in Kwun Tong.

‘House of Vans’ Skatedeck Chair Workshop

Pier 4, Central, Hong Kong

Oct 17 & 18, 3-5pm

Register online here

Street art in Kwun Tong by Start From Zero. Author’s photo.


:::::Dom Chan, founder of Start From Zero & UrbanDNA | Interview October 6th, 2015:::::


When was Start From Zero established? Can you tell me about the background of the collective?

Around sixteen years ago we started doing street art in Hong Kong. We did stickers, wheatpaste, stencil, paints, and posters in Hong Kong. Around 8 years later we started doing streetwear, and about four years ago we opened a shop… we closed the shop last year. The shop sold clothing and hosted underground artists’ exhibitions. We started doing woodwork about four years ago.

How many people are in Start From Zero?

In the beginning just me, and I have a partner called Katol… [He] knows how to draw the design and together we did the clothing. We also do woodworking together.

Does Start From Zero have a mission or philosophy?

For everyone to be happy and survive in Hong Kong. With graffiti and skating, it’s difficult to survive here… Don’t think too much, just start to do what you want and what you like.

Dom Chan, SFZ founder, in his workshop. Author’s photo.

How did you become interested in woodworking?

We were doing a lot of exhibitions but always [worked] on canvas, so boring! We got some wood and tried [working] on the wood. Because wood has different textures, each piece is different. We bought more machines, and I love woodworking because everyday I can build some installation.

We had an exhibition a few years ago, deTour, in the area of PMQ– at the time it was still the old police station heritage area in Central. We made a [mini] house, a table and chairs– and then lots of people found us to build houses. Then we started doing more woodwork and became professional.

What street art inspires you?

Shepard Fairey. When I was in school I saw a poster outside, and I didn’t know what it was about. It wasn’t a promotion, it wasn’t from the government– oh, it’s a street art stencil. I searched online and found ‘stencilworkshop.com’– this was a long time ago, it was Australian. They had a forum that taught how to [make] stencils. It’s very easy. The first stencil I did by PowerPoint. I just plugged a photo into PowerPoint and made it black and white, then printed it out and used the correct pen… And made the outline more sharp… Then photocopied and made it bigger… Then printed it out and cut it. Yea, my first big stencil was made from old school stuff!

… Shepard Fairey inspired me because he was arrested a lot but kept doing street art– and he does street clothing also. [I wondered] why Hong Kong doesn’t have any street clothing? Then, I tried to do. Now I know why– because Hong Kong is difficult.

Mixed media work by Start From Zero. Author’s photo. 

Have you ever been arrested before while making street art?

Yea, in Taiwan and Shanghai. But not in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is very safe…

What are your feelings on the graffiti scene now in Hong Kong?

It is better than some time ago, there are more people doing it, but I don’t know how long they can do it, because it’s very difficult. But it’s better than a long time ago… It’s different… I don’t see it as street art or art, legal or illegal…

Skate deck chair created in the Vans workshop.

What can workshop participants with House of Vans expect at the woodworking workshop?

We built the skate wall, and will teach people to make a stool, and have silkscreening too– live printing. You can take a blank t-shirt, bring your own pieces or pick up a tote bag or anything and bring it to House of Vans– they’ll print the logo and event identity image onto your piece!

How often do you offer these workshops?

Three days a week we teach woodworking workshops [in the Kwun Tong studio]. For House of Vans we’ll also help with the silkscreen, because we used to do street wear and we always do silkscreening on wood. And we always wear Vans!

The Start From Zero workshop in Kwun Tong. Author’s photo.


For more on Start From Zero’s woodcrafting workshop, check out their Kwun Tong workshop schedule here.

Erin Wooters Yip


Related Posts:

HKwalls 2015: Promising growth for Hong Kong’s street art festival – Photofeast – April 2015

Lost art: Without street policy, history will repeat – January 2015

‘HKwalls’ street art festival coming soon to Sheung Wan – Interview May 2014



Follow @Urban_DNA on Instagram for a running feed of Hong Kong street art






Gallery to street: Agnès b. ‘Far East Far West’ graffiti exhibition takes it outside

Agnès b. celebrates 20 years in Hong Kong with the ‘Far East Far West Graffiti Hub Exhibition’, which spills out into its surrounding neighborhood with the help of HKwalls.

Hong Kong Street Art 

Street art has been having a moment for awhile in Hong Kong. With the takeoff of HKwalls, Hong Kong’s once fledgling street art scene has evolved to produce some world-class artists that can hang with the best of them. Meanwhile, the art world has slowly come to recognize the quality of Hong Kong’s homegrown talent in a handful of ‘street art’ themed exhibitions, although a guided outdoor component for newly created pieces has been regrettably missing. A public element undoubtedly helps a gallery offering of ‘street art’ work – otherwise, it risks stripping the art of its integral meaning as both visual signpost and indicator of placefulness. Therein lies the challenge– how can an upstanding gallery exhibit a broad selection of freshly created urban artworks in situ throughout the community, as they are meant to be seen? With the help of HKwalls, the brilliant not-for-profit organization dedicated to bringing art to Hong Kong’s public spaces, Agnès b. has done just that.

Philippe Baudelocque at Shin Hing Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong. Image courtesy of Agnès b.

Agnès b., grand dame of the French fashion world with an international network of self-named lifestyle boutiques, has long nurtured a special appreciation for street art. Agnès b. representative Marine Delveno shares, “She has always supported the graffiti scene. She started in the 80’s, when no one wanted to show this kind of art in a gallery. [It] makes sense to do a graffiti show to commemorate her 20th anniversary… It’s her thing and her main theme this year.” The design mastermind is also running two street art exhibitions concurrently in Paris through October, and opens the notable ‘Far East Far West’ Graffiti Hub Exhibition at the Agnès b. Librairie Galerie in Hong Kong on Friday, September 25th, 2015.

Caratoes with her creation on Gough Street, Hong Kong. Image courtesy of Agnès b.

So what makes ‘Far East Far West’ in Hong Kong so special? Simply put, there has been a monumental effort (thanks, HKwalls!) to source outdoor spaces from private property owners to create an extension of the gallery into the local neighborhood. Although it might seem volunteering one’s property to an art show is a savvy community-oriented decision, there is a catch that gives pause many– creative control. Resolving the contradiction of the artist’s desire for creative freedom and the practical needs of many different business owners is no easy task, which is likely why it’s never before been done by a gallery in Hong Kong. It’s an exquisitely complicated show to do– yet undeterred, Agnès b. has turned Hong Kong’s Central streets into a curated selection of her personal vision, complete (of course) with a handy walking map.

Parent’s Parents on Aberdeen Street, Hong Kong. Image courtesy of Agnès b.
Lek & Sowat on Mee Lun Street, Hong Kong. Image courtesy of Agnès b.

Agnès, always the curator of the shows displayed in her gallery empire, personally selected the 8 exhibited artists for ‘Far East Far West’. Five are based in Hong Kong (SINIC, the Parent’s Parents collective, Barlo, Wais, and Caratoes) and 3 are overseas champions of their craft (Philippe Baudelocque and Lek & Sowat from France, and Cleon Peterson hailing from Los Angeles in the United States). Notably, this is the first time for each of the overseas artists to visit Hong Kong and have their work shown in Asia. What draws the artists together is a practice of nontraditional street art style– these are not painters of usual urban concepts, bubble letters, or reminiscing of hip hop. The works are figurative painterly and abstract graphic pieces that would normally be viewed on a canvas within a controlled setting, but are instead disorientingly on the side of a building. Rather than taking art from the streets and placing it in the gallery, art from the gallery has been set loose on the neighborhood.

Wais for Agnès b. on Gough Street, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Agnès b.
SINIC for Agnés b. in Hong Kong. Image courtesy of Agnés b.

There are natural complications with an art show that involves outside stakeholders– those whose property literally becomes the art. Agnès b. representative Marine Delveno explains:

“HKwalls got the authorizations, contacting many owners in the area. It’s been difficult because all the owners asked for sketches prior to the confirmation and the artists usually do not work this way. We tried not to offend anyone but it’s been a lot of back and forth emails to confirm the sketches since the owners asked to change the art most of the time, according to their own tastes and to what’s accepted or not by the society… For instance, violent content is prohibited kind of… Finally we got more walls once the artists arrived, because other owners saw them paint in the street and liked it, and it’s also easier when people really meet and talk. Then they can share, communicate and get along, that’s how more opportunities come up.”

Cleon Peterson for Agnès b. in Hong Kong. Image courtesy of Agnès b.

With ‘violent content’ perceived as potentially taboo, the work of Cleon Peterson, which explores the dark side of human nature, conflict, and power relationships, presented a particular challenge in finding appropriate outdoor display space. However, property owners were eventually won over by his artistry despite heavier subject matter. Peterson says:

“Getting permission to paint the spaces has been difficult. I think people see graffiti as vandalism and not art. I hope that our work can change this perspective. That being said the people that did grant us spaces to paint in have been amazing and are really acting as cultural pioneers… I think when art is at its best it opens minds and lets people share and experience different perspectives of their worlds. Because we’re working with the city as our canvas it is in a way our partner in the art. It’s our culture mixing with Hong Kong’s culture. It’s very exciting and I can’t wait to see how people here live with the work.”

Cleon Peterson for Agnès b. in Hong Kong. Image courtesy of Agnès b.

Perhaps an acceptance of more challenging content like Peterson’s in the public space is an indicator that Hong Kong has grown up a bit in its tastes. Life isn’t all cute rubber duckies, and the more sophisticated palette for contemporary art will reflect such a balanced outlook. Either way, it is a boon for Hong Kong to have such a well-organized showing of street art in the public space. Life goes on, and the love goes on.

You can check out the ‘Far East Far West’ Graffiti Hub Exhibition at the Agnès b. Librairie Galerie in Hong Kong and throughout the surrounding neighborhood.

Agnès b. Librairie Galerie
118 Hollywood Road, G/F
Central, Hong Kong

Opens Friday, September 25th, 7pm. On from September 26, 2015 – January 2, 2016

Erin Wooters Yip


Related Posts


Follow @Urban_DNA on Instagram for a running feed of Hong Kong street art.









San Fransisco street artist DYoungV takes on Istanbul – PHOTOFEAST

The prolific Californian artist was recently on the move again, this time creating artwork on the fringes of Asia in the urban spaces of Istanbul.


Not yet a year has passed since San Fransisco artist DYoungV came through Hong Kong and left his signature style of art in the streets. The prolific Californian artist was recently on the move again, this time creating artwork on the fringes of Asia in the urban spaces of Istanbul – an idea hatched while chatting with Hong Kong’s own local tattoo artist Ross Dixon Turpin of the famed Star Crossed Tattoo. The promise of Istanbul’s ‘free reign’ to get up proved too great a draw, and soon DYoungV had booked his ticket to the enigmatic Turkish city, which did not disappoint. Style by Asia offers insight into the artist’s impressions of working in the Eurasian border city that has become a beacon of street art culture.

Balat neighborhood. Image courtesy of the artist.
Balat neighborhood. Image courtesy of the artist.
Balat neighborhood. Image courtesy of the artist.

Of his experience working in Istanbul, the artist commented:

“In a city of nearly 15 million people that are up during all hours of the night, there is always someone around watching you. Even down the darkest and quietest alley at 5am, there are still people hanging out. This can make one very nervous when putting up work. What I learned… is just put your work up regardless, take your time to get it right and 99.9% of Istanbul people will not bother you at all.”


Kadikoy neighborhood collaboration with Canavar. Image courtesy of the artist.
Kadikoy neighborhood, collaboration with Oneson. Image courtesy of the artist
Kadikoy metro. Image courtesy of the artist.

With this being the artist’s first visit to unfamiliar territory (where he had no long-standing contacts nor spoke the language), the trip was a crash course in Turkish culture and the individual local neighborhoods of Istanbul. He reports:

“Beyoglu is a neighborhood that is large in size and massively dense with people. Its walls are covered street to street with extremely well executed graffiti pieces. Literally thousands of pieces can be seen on every roller door, ground level wall, alley way and accessible rooftop. Finding it difficult to find open space in that area; most of my works in Beyoglu can be found in abandoned lots, on top of demolished buildings, rooftops above local markets and residential areas sightly off the more busy streets…”

Beyoglu neighborhood. Image courtesy of the artist.
Beyoglu. Image courtesy of the artist.
Beyoglu. Image courtesy of the artist.
Beyoglu. Image courtesy of the artist.
Beyoglu. Image courtesy of the artist.

In addition to Beyoglu, the Kadikoy neighborhood proved to be a quite impressive area for street art.

“Just over the Bosphorus Strait exists Kadikoy on the Asian side of Istanbul. Kadikoy offers a variety of well executed graff pieces, enormous sanctioned and unsanctioned street murals and a very large street art scene. Unsolicited pieces done by the artists in this neighborhood can be seen covering whole sides of buildings, roof tops, freeway entrances and public parks.”

Kadikoy neighborhood, colloboration with local artists Ares Badsector. Image courtesy of the artist.

Despite a lack of contacts in the area, the artist was able to connect with creative local talents for collaborations through Istanbul’s Mixer Gallery. He says:

“The artists here are talented, courageous, ambitious, defiant, and very open to collaborating with travelling artists. Thankfully, through the help of Mixer Gallery I was able to connect with local artists: Canavar, Oneson, Ares Badsector and Gevsek. They took me around Kadikoy in search of walls. We spent the late evening/morning creating collaboration pieces all around that area.”

Kadikoy neighborhood, ollaboration with Canavar. Image courtesy of the artist.
Kadikoy. Image courtesy of the artist.

For DYoungV, the act of creating street art is both deliberate and meditative after careful consideration of a neighborhood. Regarding his process in unfamiliar international destinations, he offers:

“I believe that doing street art in foreign cities adds a unique perspective on the dynamics of that city’s culture. For me, a neighborhood has to be visited three times. One day to scout, one night to get work up and a third follow up visit to photograph and interact with the completed work. This allows for hours upon hours of exploring new alleyways, residential areas, visiting mosques, eating at local cafes and interacting with locals all while working. It’s a very rewarding experience. The perspective of getting work up allows for visits to areas that one may not travel to otherwise.”

Taksim Square. Image courtesy of the artist.

Check out more from DYoungV here:


Instagram: @dyoungv

Erin Wooters Yip

Related Posts

Follow @urban_DNA on Instagram for a running feed of Hong Kong street art


Interview: British Street Artist J.Fishy on his fruited figures in Hong Kong

British artist J.Fishy shares his process for creating the surreal ‘Fruit and Veg On’ pasteup series in Hong Kong.


China’s bustling Southern harbor city has recently experienced a new artist-in-residence crafting surreal encounters in urban spaces. Walking down the street in Sai Ying Pun, a vibrant neighborhood enclave West of Central, one might come upon a young man with an eggplant on his head. Or, for that matter, you could pass a young lady carefully balancing an ear of corn atop her crown. Further in Pok Fu Lam, a child can be found wearing a sprig of spring onion, and a couple has appeared in Po Hing Fong steadily balancing oranges upon their heads. The observer of street art on Hong Kong Island would surely have seen such phenomena by now, as you’re practically bound to meet one of these figures around town. An unsigned enigma, one cannot help but wonder of the origins of this exceptionally prolific series.

Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong. Author’s image.

Turns out, the images are part of a new photographic portraiture street art series entitled ‘Fruit and Veg On’ by a British artist who prefers to be called J.Fishy. Luckily, UrbanDNA was able to catch up with the artist just as he wraps up his 6 month stint in Hong Kong. He shares insight into his latest work that can be found throughout the city (no, the fruits and veggies are not photoshopped in!) and his inspiration. Funny enough, the series was sparked simply by the artist’s friend playfully placing a carrot on her head. Of this he says, “It was so simple yet had this beauty to it that I kind of became transfixed with.” Also, if you have been candidly asked on the street to pose with a piece of fruit on your head, you might just find yourself featured as a work of art!

Read on for the entire interview with the artist.

IMG_8960-3 copy 2-1
Hong Kong. Image courtesy of the artist, © J.Fishy.

:::::INTERVIEW | J.Fishy & UrbanDNA:::::

Where are you from, and how has your background shaped your artistic practice?

J.Fishy: I’m from London but also had the pleasure of living in Bristol for a few years and have now been based in Hong Kong for the past 6 months. I’ve also been lucky enough to travel through quite a few other countries and getting to experience different environments and cultures has definitely influenced what I make.

Can you describe your creative training? What mediums are you drawn to?

J.Fishy: I studied art at university and was initially interested in sculpture and installation work. At that time I was casting bits of my body and growing plants out of them. I then increasingly became interested in people rather than objects as such. It was at this point I started primarily working with video and photography.

A lady photographed by the artist with an orange in Bristol, U.K., displayed on a wall in Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong. Author’s image.


Have you always been interested in ‘street art’? When did you begin making public artworks?

J.Fishy: While most of what I’ve previously made hasn’t been ‘street art’, I have always liked encountering work outside and been interested in its accessibility to a wider audience than art shown in a gallery. While I’ve got a lot of love for art galleries, I think for many people they are this cultural entity that they feel disconnected from. Putting work outside removes this barrier between ‘the art world’ and the general public. I also think there becomes a more natural dialogue between what is made, the viewer and peoples environment. The first work I put outside was a series of text based pieces about 5 years ago… I initially started by getting pieces of wood out of skips and spraying onto them and leaving them in places.. I then moved on to getting ‘for-sale’ sign’s and old doors, giving them a bit of a makeover and then locking them to fences or street lamps. I found this way they stayed where I left them for much longer. I’ve only very recently begun wheat-pasting.

A man with an orange photographed by the artist in Gokarna, India, displayed on a wall in the Poho area of Hong Kong. Author’s image.


How would you describe your practice – primarily studio based?

J.Fishy: While some stuff is studio based, the majority of what I’ve produced over the past couple years has been created in public. There is an immediacy between myself, what is being made and other people that seems to keep driving me to work in this way.

Why did you choose Hong Kong for your most recent street art series, and how did you select specific site locations?

J.Fishy: Hong Kong is where I’ve been living for the past six months so that’s where I’ve been producing work. That said, quite a few of the pieces I’ve recently put up are from photos taken in other countries. As far as finding specific locations for each piece, I tend to travel on foot and keep my eyes peeled for good spots.

A lady photographed by the artist in India, displayed in Poho, Hong Kong. Author’s image.


Can you describe your process for creating your Hong Kong series?

J.Fishy: The ‘Fruit & Veg On’ series started with a friend simply putting a carrot on her head. It was so simple yet had this beauty to it that I kind of became transfixed with. Two ordinary things (a carrot and someone’s head), took on this obscure relationship to one another through the simple action of putting one on top of the other. After this initial event of the carrot on the head, I decided to go buy some fruit and vegetables and walk around asking people to choose a piece to put on their head. While it takes me a while to ask the first person on any given day, once I start I’m hooked. I find the brief interactions with people somewhat therapeutic.

A man photographed by the artist in London with bananas, displayed on a wall in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong. Adjacent is a face painting by street artist Victoriano. Author’s image.


Are all the models posing with items on their heads, or is there any element of Photoshop involved?

J.Fishy: All the people are posing with the actual fruit or vegetables on their head. The only editing involved is blowing the images up and also slightly brightening them, as I generally choose to shoot slightly underexposed.

Do you know all the people who are subjects of your work? If not, how do you ask strangers to be photographed with fruits and vegetables on their heads? Have potential subjects ever refused your offer?

J.Fishy: Nearly all the photos are of just random people on the street. I simply approach them and ask if they’d mind putting a piece of fruit or veg on their head for a photo. Lots of people inevitably refuse but thankfully lots are happy to get involved.

IMG_8632 copy
A man photographed by the artist with a green pepper in Barcelona, shown in the Poho area of Hong Kong. Image courtesy of the artist, © J.Fishy.


What is the resolution of your images – do you shoot in raw?

J.Fishy: I have never shot in raw until about a month ago… I use photo zoom to blow the images up to get them nice and big and it was only once I started doing this that I started to realise the benefits of shooting in raw for what I do.. I generally choose to shoot slightly underexposed and raw images respond much better to being brightened than jpegs.

I notice you don’t sign your street art works with your name or pseudonym – any particularreason for this?

J.Fishy: I feel the works being signed would slightly detract from their obscurity. I prefer the idea of people encountering a lady with a bunch of bananas on her head with no explanation of it being owned by anyone, or necessarily even being a piece of art.

Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong. Image courtesy of the artist, © J.Fishy.


What type of printer do you use to create the Hong Kong paste-ups? Do you have access to this equipment in Hong Kong, or did you prepare your printed materials before leaving?

J.Fishy: The works I’ve pasted up so far have been made by splitting the images over lots of A3 pages and then printing them at a local printers in Sheung Wan. Each page is then cut out and stuck together before heading out to paste them up.

Hong Kong. Image courtesy of the artist, © J.Fishy.


What is your overall impression of the Hong Kong street art scene?

J.Fishy: I think the scene here is at an interesting point. It is much younger than in London but feels like it’s definitely growing. There seems to be a real interest and desire for more of it from the local people.

Have you ever had any problems with authorities when installing your artworks?

J.Fishy: Thankfully not yet.

Hong Kong. Image courtesy of the artist, © J.Fishy.


How long will you remain in the region? Will you be creating street art elsewhere in Asia?

J.Fishy: I leave in a weeks time and will be making a couple of other stops in Asia before heading back to the U.K.

Hong Kong. Image courtesy of the artist, © J.Fishy.


What is inspiring you now, and how has your time in Hong Kong affected you creatively?

J.Fishy: The biggest source of inspiration is people I encounter on the street, MTR or wherever. I love the peculiarities of people and how they interact and operate with one another. Prior to coming here I was simply taking the photos and occasionally showing them at exhibitions… I’m now taking the pictures back out onto the streets to exhibit which seems to make far more sense.

What’s next for you – can we look forward to further showings in Asia?

J.Fishy: I’m preparing 20 new pieces at the moment that will be going up in the next week before I leave.. keep your eyes peeled.


Check out more from J.Fishy here:


Instagram @J.Fishy

Erin Wooters Yip

Related Posts


Follow @Urban_DNA on Instagram for a running feed of Hong Kong street art.