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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Parent’s Parents on Aberdeen Street, Hong Kong. Image courtesy of Agnès b.
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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.

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Wais for Agnès b. on Gough Street, Hong Kong. Image courtesy Agnès b.
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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.”

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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.”

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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

 

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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.

HONG KONG STREET ART 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

www.jake-of.com

Instagram @J.Fishy

Erin Wooters Yip

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Next level: ‘Invader’ scores at ‘Wipe Out’ show in Hong Kong – Exhibition Review

Invader returns to the scene of last year’s infamously removed ‘invasion’ to present ‘Wipe Out’, offering exciting new LED light artworks.

HONG KONG STREET ART EXHIBITION

In a windfall for street art in Hong Kong, French graffiti mosaic artist ‘Invader’ has ceremoniously returned to the scene of last year’s infamously removed ‘invasion’ to present ‘Wipe Out’, an exhibition exploring his work in the city and beyond. The non-profit show is the third project presented by HOCA, the Hong Kong Contemporary Art Foundation, which launched in 2014. Curated by Lauren Every-Wortman, the event is held within the expansive Qube space at PMQ – a rare 600 square meter multi-function hall in the Central district of Hong Kong. Within this abundant space, Invader and Every-Wortman have constructed an engaging sensory experience that simultaneously educates and amuses whilst offering the artist’s exciting first foray into sculptural LED light art.

Image © Kitmin Lee, courtesy of HOCA Foundation.
The entry view of ‘Wipe Out’, an ‘explosition’ by Invader presented by HOCA Foundation. Image © Kitmin Lee, courtesy of HOCA Foundation.
Image © Kitmin Lee, courtesy of HOCA Foundation
Image © Kitmin Lee, courtesy of HOCA Foundation

A walk-through of Wipe Out presents a series of different aspects of Invader’s creative work. In addition to the display of countless material examples of the artist’s mosaic artworks displayed in Hong Kong and on streets around the world, the show also conveys his conceptual work ‘gamifying’ the discovery of the works in urban spaces worldwide through his ‘Flash Invaders’ mobile application. Further, a thorough historical documentation is recounted of the artist’s Hong Kong invasions spanning from 2001-2014– including a full-scale reenactment of the artist’s street mosaic HK_58 (better known as ‘Hong Kong Phooey’) in its original in situ placement.

'Wipe Out': Documentation of the 'Invasion of Hong Kong' from 2001-2014. Image © Erin Wooters Yip.
‘Wipe Out’: Documentation of the ‘Invasion of Hong Kong’ from 2001-2014. Image © Erin Wooters Yip.
© Kitmin Lee, courtesy of HOCA Foundation
A young man interacts with the recreation of the in situ placement of Invader’s Hong Kong Phooey, HK_58. Image © Kitmin Lee, courtesy of HOCA Foundation

The center of the exhibition space also holds a must-see treat within the ‘Wipe Out Cinema’– a video documentary relating how the artist effectively ‘invaded’ his dream frontier– outer space. The improbable journey of Invader’s mosaic hitched upon a weather balloon is breathtaking, inspiring, and indeed a bit magical – audible gasps could be heard as the artist’s signature mosaic character floated away to reach the unthinkable and then survive falling from the top of the earth’s atmosphere. In the end, it is an elegant metaphor for the boundless capabilities of the persevering spirit facing insurmountable challenges; the documentary film footage capturing this unearthly journey was eventually retrieved from Florida swampland after the literal threat of poisonous snakes, insects, and (yes!) even an alligator. +10,000 points!!!

The 'Wipe Out Cinema', offering the worldwide debut of original film footage.. Image © Erin Wooters Yip.
The ‘Wipe Out Cinema’, offering the worldwide debut of original film footage.. Image © Erin Wooters Yip.
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Sculptural animated LED works by Invader, the first venture into the medium for the artist. Image © Kitmin Lee, courtesy of HOCA Foundation

It was, however, the artist’s debut works of sculptural LED light art that stole the show. The medium translates perfectly to the artist’s nostalgia for early gaming technology, elevating his work to new frontiers of possibility. With a firm understanding of Invader’s past work challenging the boundaries of public expression worldwide, this new experimental use of sculpted, animated light proposes a future of dazzling possibility.

 

WIPE OUT: An ‘Explosition’ by Invader

Dates: May 2-17

Venue: The Qube, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong

Open Monday to Sunday, 10am-8pm

www.hoca.org

 

 

 Erin Wooters Yip

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‘HKwalls’ Street Art Festival Coming to Sheung Wan – Offer Artists Your Wall Space! -Interview

In the first-ever event of its kind in Hong Kong, HKwalls will enhance outdoor wall spaces in the Sheung Wan district with the painted works of celebrated urban contemporary artists from May 12-18. Property owners may offer their wall for inclusion in the event.

‘HKwalls’ Street Art Festival, May 12-18, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

In the first-ever event of its kind in Hong Kong, HKwalls will enhance outdoor wall spaces in the Sheung Wan district with the painted works of celebrated urban contemporary artists. The street art festival event will take place from May 12-18 during the busiest week of the year in Hong Kong’s jam-packed art calendar, coinciding with the city’s second inaugural Art Basel fair and its surrounding plethora of satellite art events. Thus far HKwalls has secured permission for artists to paint upon at least 9 walls in the Sheung Wan area, although organizers are still actively seeking additional property owners who are interested in featuring their wall space in this community art event.

While HKwalls is a unique event of its kind within Hong Kong, such a street art festival is certainly not a new concept on the international contemporary art scene. This writer has recently had the privilege of viewing in person the freshly painted artworks from a similar event, PUBLIC, which was sponsored and organized by the City of Perth in Western Australia and took place from April 5-13, 2014. While PUBLIC surely made the laneways of Perth a more visually stimulating place, the city administrators were also aiming to raise the status of Perth on the global creative map. The website for the City of Perth writes that the event aspires to “place Perth as an emerging international street art hotspot, alongside cities such as Bristol, New York, Miami, Barcelona and Buenos Aires; cities that are well-known for the impact of using art to enrich and empower the lives of its people.”

:::::INTERVIEW:::::

HKwalls is led in part by Jason Dembski, a designer and professor at the University of Saint Joseph in Macau, who also maintains an online archive of Hong Kong street art at hkstreetart.com. UrbanDNA caught up with Jason to learn more about HKwalls and how property owners can include their outdoor Sheung Wan wall spaces in the event, thereby transforming (at no charge!) ordinary, publicly visible surfaces into vibrant works of contemporary art for the enhancement of their surrounding neighborhood.

What is HKwalls? Can you describe how this initiative has come about? 

HKwalls is a week long street art festival which takes place during Art Basel HK, from May 12-18. While Art Basel in Miami has become a great success, there’s nothing really interesting happening on the streets of Hong Kong during the week of Art Basel, so we thought we would try and make something happen at the ground level. We also chose the Art Basel week because we hope that it will attract some artists from overseas who can get involved.

Is HKwalls related to or inspired by any particular international street art festival or initiative that has recently enhanced another city? 

Wynwood Walls in Miami, Pow Wow Hawaii, etc.

 

Who are the participating street artists for HKwalls, and where are they from?

This year most artists are based in Hong Kong and we have 1 or 2 who are visiting for Art Basel but in the future we would like to have more of a 50/50 balance and create more collaborations between Hong Kong artists and those from overseas.  A preliminary list for this year can be found at hkwalls.org/artists.

How were the participating street artists chosen?

It was not always simple, but generally we made a few lists of artists based on what they do, asked some of those artists for other recommendations we might have missed, and discussed them further within our team and the wall owners.

What kind of content will the artists be painting? Who has creative control over the final work upon a wall? 

We do not control what the artist paints at all except that it shouldn’t contain anything intentionally offensive. Being the first year, the theme for the event is metamorphosis, eluding to the transformation the walls will undergo, but the artists are free to take as much or as little inspiration from this as they like. We are also considering a unified color palette across the walls.

HKwalls is seeking additional outdoor walls for the artists to paint upon. What kind of walls are desirable for this initiative?

Any large exterior visible to the public which is located in the area around Blake Garden (Tai On Terrace, Po Hing Fong, Tai Ping Shan, Pound Lane, Square Street, Sai Street, etc).. It’s important that the owner understands that we have to give full creativity to the artist and let them paint what they want, because normally it would be a commissioned piece if the content is controlled by someone else.

What kinds of walls qualify? Must they be privately owned for permission to be properly given for participation in the project? 

They don’t have to be privately owned but at least they should have the right to have it painted without causing any legal issues.

Can you describe the initial community response to the project? 

So far so good. Within the local art scene it’s been super positive, but getting walls to paint isn’t always easy.  Because nothing has been done like this in Hong Kong before, many people are reluctant to give us their walls, and because there’s limited space, we haven’t been able include everyone we would have liked. But we are hoping this will pave the way for a bigger HKwalls event next year.

Will spectators be encouraged to watch artists as they paint?

For sure. Please come and enjoy the week out here with us. It’s not that often you can enjoy this many artists doing live art in Hong Kong, and the plan is to have a final block party/celebration of the work on the 18th.  Things are still coming together though, so watch the website for details.

How long are the murals anticipated to remain after the event? 

Hopefully till next year.

How can property owners get involved and include their wall in the event? 

Please hit us up at contact@hkwalls.org

 

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Opportunities Abound for ‘Young Talent Hong Kong’ at Affordable Art Fair

Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong 2014

There has never been a better time to be a young artist in Hong Kong. Although the city has admittedly never been easy for artists – let’s be honest, it can be a seemingly impossible place to survive – there are glimmers of opportunity for homegrown creatives. It is clear from the competitive showing at this year’s Affordable Art Fair (AAF), which was open to the public from March 21-23, that young Hong Kong artists are rising to the occasion – and enjoying the exposure – that is becoming available as the city evolves into a top center of the global art market. Never before have the city’s unrepresented young artists had such a powerful platform enabling a local artist’s exhibition to an eager and plentiful international audience as that evident in the Young Talent program at Hong Kong’s second inaugural Affordable Art Fair.

Chan Ming Man, Other Side of the Barrel. When visitors look through the barrel of this metal and plastic sculpture a kaleidoscope is revealed.
Chan Ming Man, ‘Other Side of the Barrel’. A secret inner kaleidoscope is revealed when visitors look through the barrel of this metal and plastic sculpture.

 

Wu Siu Man. Still image from video, 'Kept Silent for a While'. Video - duration 01'14". Edition: 5
Wu Siu Man. Still image from video, ‘Kept Silent for a While’. Video – duration 01’14”. ‘By kissing, we maintain the balance’.

 

Lau Hok Shing, Hanison. 'Stay' (set of 10). Wood, Glassware, Acrylic, Pencil marks. 'Lingering on the thought of my beloved ones through ordinary objects.'
Lau Hok Shing, Hanison. ‘Stay’ (set of 10). Wood, Glassware, Acrylic, Pencil marks. ‘Lingering on the thought of my beloved ones through ordinary objects.’

Notably, AAF has incarnations in 16 international cities, although the Young Talent programming is currently only included in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Brussels. AAF Hong Kong 2014 took place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre with 121 participating international galleries, of which 35 were from Hong Kong. In an Art Radar interview, Fair Director Camilla Hewitson said, “We are proud to be able to state that last year’s fair was our most successful launch Fair in our brands’ fifteen-year history. This year the Fair is bigger, with an increase in galleries from 84 in 2013 to over 120 this year and many more artworks to see and buy.”

Brainrental. 'Illustrative Objects - Microwave Oven'. White cardboard.
Brainrental. ‘Illustrative Objects – Microwave Oven’. White cardboard. 26cm x 40cm x 34.5cm

 

photo 3
Law Ka Nam, Bosco. Real person #004 (set of 3). Ink on paper. 25cm x 25cm

 

Lo Hui Fung, Goby. 'The Wall'. Inkjet print on photo paper. 60 x 120cm
Lo Hui Fung, Goby. ‘The Wall’. Inkjet print on photo paper. 60 x 120cm

The fair’s prominently situated Young Talent Hong Kong section featured over 20 works by 11 Hong Kong artists below the age of 35, curated by Eric Leung Shui Kee. This exhibition provided a rare insight into the direction and vitality of Hong Kong’s most promising youthful artists. The quality of these works easily rivaled any of those from the exhibiting galleries and received a high level of visibility on the fair’s main concourse, directly adjacent to showings by contemporary art galleries from Australia, Canada, South Korea, Spain, and Japan. The works on display by Young Talent Hong Kong were, like almost all of the works at the fair, available for sale. The young artists’ works appeared to have performed splendidly; on the last day of the fair many works boasted pink stickers indicating a successful sale.

Wong Shun Chi, Vanessa. 'Entity 10'. Watercolor on paper.
Wong Shun Chi, Vanessa. ‘Entity 10’. Watercolor on paper. 40cm x 30cm

The artists on display at Young Talent Hong Kong include:

  • Brainrental
  • Chan Ching Man
  • Chan Wing Sang
  • Ho Siu Nam, South
  • Lo Hiu Fung, Goby
  • Lau Hok Shing, Hanison
  • Law Ka Nam, Bosco
  • Wong Shun Chi, Vanessa
  • Wu Chun Yin, Aries
  • Wu Siu Man
  • Yip Kin Bon, Elvis

 

Ho Siu Nam, South. 'Gaze Series I-VI'. Archival inkjet print. Edition: 50 x 50cm 7 / 100 x 100cm 3
Ho Siu Nam, South. ‘Gaze Series I-VI’. Archival inkjet print. Edition: 50 x 50cm 7 / 100 x 100cm 3

 

Wu Chun Yin, Aries. 'Flower of Rope'. Oil on linen.
Wu Chun Yin, Aries. ‘Flower of Rope’. Oil on linen. 76.3cm x 40.7cm

 

Chan Wing Sang. Cloth series. Oil on canvas. 150cm x 90cm.
Chan Wing Sang. Cloth series. Oil on canvas. 150cm x 90cm.

 

Yip Kin Bon, Elvis. 'Before Typhoon'. Masking tape, tape, and wood. 80cm x 80 cm
Yip Kin Bon, Elvis. ‘Before Typhoon’. Masking tape, tape, and wood. 80cm x 80 cm

Central Hong Kong street art interview + photofeast: Johnny Overloaddance

HONG KONG STREET ART

Nestled in a quiet corner of Pak Tsz Lane Park in Central, Hong Kong, a humble art exhibition has been underway for months, open to all curious passersby. Through depictions of his signature ‘Fatso’ character personality, urban artist and comic illustrator Johnny ‘Overloaddance’ has transformed the park’s forgotten blank and graffiti-tagged concrete walls  into an art show – the ’13 Guy Exhibition’. It seems somehow fitting an impromptu street art exhibition can now be found in the same space that historically housed secret meetings of anti-Qing Dynasty revolutionists, as the spot famously offered a number of escape routes for fleeing 19th century rebels. Although the park’s political intrigue has long passed, such claiming of public space for independent art is a strong statement in itself.

Not your typical street writer, Johnny ‘Overloaddance’ is a bona fide homegrown Hong Kong artist and designer. After studying advertising, he further developed his artistic practice to include painting, sculpture, product design, and street art – all featuring his signature ‘OVERLOAD/DANCE’ character concept. The ’13 Guy’ Exhibition in Pak Tsz Park gives public life to these imaginative and emotive personalities. Perhaps most intriguingly, one prominent wall features a poem (apparently regarding the nature of chaos) written in an obscure antiquated style of Chinese calligraphy that can only be interpreted by few highly learned people. This style of Chinese calligraphy can be vaguely compared to Early Olde English, the style of medieval English in which the epic poem Beowulf was originally penned. It seems to be a late addition to the ‘show’ by an anonymous calligrapher. The presentation of this archaic style of Chinese calligraphy juxtaposed against the contemporary urban figures reveals a collaborative collage of street artwork with fascinating depth and cultural complexity– and quintessentially ‘Hong Kong’.

Street art and graffiti is highly ephemeral, so while in Central, urban art lovers are advised to wander to this quiet corner of Pak Tsz Lane Park on Fuk Wah Street and see this unique painterly figurative street art and antiquated calligraffiti while it’s still intact.

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::::: INTERVIEW:::::

UrbanDNA and Johnny ‘Overloaddance’

Where did you grow up, and where were you educated?

I grew up and studied in Hong Kong.

What inspires you creatively?

OVERLOADDANCE was founded in 2009. Since then I started to make things that are truly meaningful to me. My creations are all about fat guys, focusing upon the interesting bits of their lives, and even reflecting on the negative societal attitudes they receive.

When did you begin getting involved in street art? Why?

I have been trying many different ways to express the message behind OVERLOADDANCE. Besides using the Internet, I love to use other art forms like street art to deliver my ideas. It’s good to use street art because people can easily relate the art pieces to their own life and environment.

What mediums does your artistic practice encompass, and where can your art be found?

I started with a Facebook fan page and then established a website to release my creations. People find no relationship between ‘beauty’ and ‘fat.’ Since OVERLOADDANCE was founded, everything I create is to refute this long established value of beauty. I try to present fat guys in my beautiful way – though people may call it ‘disgusting beauty’. We all have different preferences and different ways to describe beauty. To me, ‘FAT’ doesn’t stop oneself to develop his or her uniqueness, so everyone can create their REAL ME style, and lead the life by their own will, not for others.

In the case of the ’13 Guy’ exhibition, how does the absence (and creation of) an art gallery support your creative idea?

The exhibition is named ‘13GUY’ because it has a double meaning to me. First, O.V.E.R.L.O.A.D.D.A.N.C.E. is composed of 13 letters. Secondly, it actually represents 13 important people, movie characters and celebrities who inspire me. They are Eun Eun, Elvis, Lovemen, Dan, OTAKU, Alber Elbaz, Nana, Dider, Oldmen, Carey, Reddy, Vampire and Ann. It also becomes more interesting (and free) when holding an exhibition in the form of street art rather than the formal way. ‘13GUY’ is not solely created by me. It isn’t finished the day I put them on the walls. They change day by day like they are living. Some people draw on them, some destroy them, the sun and the rain, etc. No one knows what will happen next or which ‘13GUY’ may disappear next. They ‘grow’ with time. It is the most fascinating thing that I always love to see. The transformation of ‘13GUY’ makes it a complete art piece.

In the ’13 Guy’ exhibition, there is a long written poem in an antiquated form of Chinese calligraphy. Did you write it?

The long poem is actually written anonymously. This is exactly why I say street art is so fascinating. While in the process of creating ‘13GUY’, I planned to present them all in the same street. It had to be quiet so that people could slow down their steps and enjoy each character. I kept searching for a place that suited, and found Pak Tsz Lane Park accidentally. It’s totally a cool place for ‘13GUY’.

Who are your favorite Hong Kong based artists, street artists, and designers?

Graphicairlines, Start from Zero, Little Thunder, YanCong, Maruo Suehio, Aleksandra Waliszewska, motohiro hayakawa.

What does Hong Kong identity mean to you, and what do you see as quintessentially Hong Kong style contemporary artwork?

Though Hong Kong isn’t a large country, you can still find a variety of cultures shining here. The society is not complete, but still there are people fighting for culture regardless of their own gain or loss. I am proud to be Hongkongese, but also feel ashamed sometimes. It’s because Hong Kong is an imperfect society that only focuses on economic growth.

Check out more from Johnny ‘Overloaddance’ on Facebook and  www.overloaddance.com

 

STREET ART PHOTO FEAST: ’13 Guy Exhibition’

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Mark Goss Final Champ of inaugural Secret Walls Hong Kong series: Event Organizer interview

Before a sold out crowd last night at Les Boules Café Pétanque in Sai Wan, expatriate British artist Mark Goss claimed the championship title of Hong Kong’s inaugural ‘Secret Walls’ series, the ‘world premier live art battle’. The heated competition showcased the incredible talents of both final qualifiers, Cath Love and Goss, and an audience ‘vote’ (a measurement of sound decibels) broke a tie amongst 2 judges to determine Goss the series victor. The artists had 90 minutes to create original works of art before an excited audience using only black marker and paint, without the assistance of sketches or visual aids.

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The Secret Walls Hong Kong series has been a new addition to Hong Kong’s arts scene this autumn, introducing the city to the unique concept of visual art as both live performance and competition. The event poses unusual challenges for competing visual artists, who must adapt to a challenging set of conditions and constraints – a far cry from the more familiar creative practice within the studio. This competition surely is not for the faint of heart, yet offers a valuable platform for visual artists to engage the community.

Style by Asia caught up with Sarah from Brand Tribe Asia, the organizer responsible for bringing Secret Walls to Hong Kong. It seems this edition of Secret Walls is the first of more to come! See the full interview below.

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UrbanDNA: Secret Walls is new to Hong Kong although it has reached 25+ countries – why Hong Kong, and why now?

SO:  The timing seemed right with a number of more “accessible” art events starting up in Hong Kong.  I had been hoping to do Secret Walls for a year before… It just happened that in March 2013 we were able to get the ball rolling.

…When I moved to Hong Kong nearly 3 years ago from Melbourne, I assumed this kind of thing would already be happening.  When I saw that it wasn’t, I decided to investigate bringing it to here and soon found out there were no Secret Walls series happening in Asia, aside from small battles in Tokyo.

UrbanDNA: Are there any current plans to introduce Secret Walls to other Asian cities?

SO:  There is certainly potential and interest on the back of Hong Kong.  We’re in discussions now.

UrbanDNA: How many artists applied to compete in Secret Walls?

SO:  We had approx. 30 entries and chose 8.

UrbanDNA: How were successful contending artists selected?

SO:  We had everyone submit a portfolio and we narrowed it down to a shortlist based on style, ability or interest in working in just black and white, and comfort level of competing in front of a live audience.  We also had many people submit once the series had started so we’re collecting submissions for next year already.

UrbanDNA: Can you describe the unique challenges faced by artists within this unusual medium of visual art as both competition and live performance?

SO:  No understatement to say this is a very tough competition and event.  Limiting the materials, not allowing any sketching and working in front of a live audience adds pressure most artists  have never experienced.  Throw in the fact that this is a competition so you have to out do your opponent, and this becomes a unique situation.  Credit to all the artists who get up there under hot lights for 90 minutes in front of a crowd over 100+ people.  Takes guts!

UrbanDNA: How is Secret Walls promoted in Hong Kong?

SO:  The same way it is in all other cities:  Word of mouth and social media.

UrbanDNA: What are the future plans for Secret Walls in Hong Kong – can we expect future editions?

SO:  We have one last event coming up on December 12th with our series sponsor, Absolut.  It is an exhibition of all the walls from the series, a chance to buy limited edition prints, an exhibition 2 x 2 battle and a party.  It’s called the Absolut Originality Blue Party.  We’re looking forward to a bit of a wrap party! After that, we’ll start looking at what we do next year.