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Art works made in Hong Kong proclaim local culture

Works of seven local artists, which present Hong Kong in a variety of dimensions and serve as visual evidence of the territory’s unique and charismatic culture, will be featured at the Hong Kong Museum of Art from tomorrow (December 21) to April 6, 2008.

The exhibition, “Made in Hong Kong - Contemporary Art Exhibition”, displays works by seven artists - Chow Chun-fai, Chu Hing-wah, Kevin Fung, Frog King (Kwok Mang-ho), Kum Chi-keung, Wan Qingli and Vincent Yu, who come from different backgrounds and represent the diversity of artistic talent and creativity that Hong Kong nurtures and attracts. Their works bear the distinctive marks of the territory’s temporal and spatial character.

Chow Chun-fai is a thinker who approaches art with questions. He revisits the “classical canons” - from iconic historical paintings and popular movies to government propaganda to search for the collective ideologies embedded in people’s sub-consciousness. In appropriating visual idioms with his simulated images, he challenges habitual or fixed perceptions, manipulates and reconstructs them. To him, every re-interpretation is a creation in its own right.

Painting for Chu Hing-wah is always personal. During his 28 years of nursing mentally ill patients, he acquired exceptional sensibility. The scenes and figures of his paintings are always charged with emotional power. He likes to use modulated, rhythmic ink washes to produce a psychic space of relaxed harmony and awesome stillness. His sensuous and expressive brushstrokes create textures for the subjective emotions of those disturbed souls and their psychological complexity. In the hustle and bustle of the city, everyone could have a psychic maniac in his inner self. Far from being abnormal, Chu has given form to the darkness that is perhaps inherent in all of us.

Kevin Fung likes sculpting with wood for it is his way to reconnect with nature in a high-tech world. His subjects are what he sees daily - his living environment, his own existence and that of his fellow men. The cluster of wood logs in his works reminds one of the concrete jungle cityscape. Figures appearing in groups represent city dwellers, faceless creature with a ghostly existence. Their body language is suggestive of their retreat and melancholic mood, expressing scarcely any interest in or interaction with their surroundings.

Kum Chi-keung likes to overtake space, hence his love for installation. His work revolves around the negotiation of boundaries, spatial invasion and navigation, envisioning the artist’s free spirit regardless of his physical confinement. Visual associations of contradictory images like the cage and the flying bird often appear in his installations. They represent an innate dilemma of a city dweller whose highly compressed life in a jam-packed city erases any space for dreams. In altering the spatial constructs of a given site, Kum redefines the spatial character of the city to his own taste and reinforces the possibility of taking flight.

Frog King is an artist who believes nothing is impossible. He is the first happening-performance artist in Hong Kong who is famous for his prodigal style. Throughout the years, he has strived for total human expression in free form. He invented his own brand “frog-fun-lum” art. It is a kind of art in “-ing” form that criss-crosses different media as well as temporal and spatial dimensions. It is a seemingly chaotic abundance that characterises Hong Kong.

Wan Qingli is regarded by some as “the literati painter in the concrete jungle”. Ever since he came to Hong Kong in 1989, he has taken the dual perspective of an inside-outsider in observing the city. He continues to work in the traditional manner of a scholar painting his interpretation of life in the 21st century. Yet he incorporates Cantonese slang with formal Chinese and mixes contemporary imagery with traditional motifs in his depictions, expressing an ironic humour that is always mingled with sadness and empathy.

Vincent Yu is a photo-journalist. He works and creates with his camera. Unlike the emotion-seeking and deceptive manner of the paparazzi, Yu opts for straight photography. He makes photos without the least intention to interfere or to make judgements. Pictures are self-evident as he often keeps his own emotion and subjectivity in check. Yu said he wanted to make an objective record of Hong Kong, to document not only the human conditions and the history of the city but also to capture the fading collective memories and vanishing spirit of its time.

To tiein with the exhibition, a series of lectures, including “Sculpture, Architecture and Environment” by Dennis Oppenheim, “Why Bother with Museum? - From Visual Representation to Community Building” by Howard Chan, and “Hong Kong City and Comics” by Craig Au-yeung, will be held on January 8, 19 and March 8, 2008, respectively. The lecture given by Dennis Oppenheim will be conducted in English and the others will be in Cantonese. Details are available on the museum’s website. During the exhibition period, a creative art project “Made in Hong Kong - Made by Hong Kong” will be held to display 10 groups of art works by tertiary, secondary, primary and kindergarten students in rotation on the outer walls of the museum.

The Museum of Art is located at 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. It opens from 10am to 6pm from Sunday to Wednesday and Fridays, and from 10am to 8pm on Saturdays. The museum will close at 5pm on Christmas Eve and Chinese New Year’s Eve. It is closed on Thursdays (except public holidays) and the first two days of Chinese New Year. Admission is $10 and a half-price concession is available to full-time students, senior citizens and people with disabilities. Admission is free on Wednesdays.

For enquiries, call 2721 0116 or visit the Museum of Art's website at .

Ends/Thursday, December 20, 2007
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