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"Made in Hong Kong" art exhibition moves to Beijing

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, are now on display at the "2008 Hong Kong and Macau Visual Art Exhibition-Made in Hong Kong" at the Beijing World Art Museum on the invitation of the Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China.

The exhibition is a highlight cultural exchange event to celebrate the forthcoming Beijing Olympic Games 2008 and to demonstrate the high standards of visual art in Hong Kong and Macau. It also takes local artists and their work to the art scene beyond Hong Kong. The exhibition will close on June 29.

The '2008 Hong Kong and Macau Visual Art Exhibition-Made in Hong Kong' displays works by Chow Chun-fai, Chu Hing-wah, Kevin Fung, Frog King (Kwok Mang-ho), Kum Chi-keung, Wan Qingli and Vincent Yu. They 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 disturbed souls and their psychological complexity. In the hustle and bustle of the city, everyone may have a psychic maniac within himself. 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 man. The cluster of wood logs in his works reminds one of the concrete jungle cityscape. Figures appearing in groups represent city dwellers, faceless creatures 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 installations. 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. Through the years, he has striven 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 judge. His pictures are self-evident as he often keeps his own emotions 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.

Before moving to Beijing, the "Made in Hong Kong-Contemporary Art Exhibition" was held at the Hong Kong Museum of Art from December 21, 2007, to April 6, 2008.

Ends/Tuesday, June 24, 2008
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