Friday, 27 May 2011

Art on a Mission

Capturing a scene from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with paint
An art exhibition has just opened at the Hong Kong Museum of Art, presenting works by Hong Kong artists, both born or based here. It's called "Legacy and Creations", which is made up of "Ink Art vs Ink Art" and "Art vs Art" that was originally shown at the Shanghai Expo last year.

I had a quick preview and some of the works were thought-provoking.

Artists are very reflective people -- they think a lot about things, decide on the statement they are going to make and then figure out the best way to convey that message through art.

My Days in Temple Street
Chiu Hing-wah's My Days in Temple Street looks back at his time living there. It's a large vertical painting with calligraphy reminiscing about how he moved to Hong Kong from China in the 1950s and lived in Temple Street because it was one of the cheapest places he could afford. He thought the place was so lively and interspersed between the Chinese characters are a theatre, a bird picking out fortunes, a fruit seller and a tea house.

Another artist Tien Chi painted Inverse, a dramatic work full of shades from dark to light, textures and brush strokes. It's a giant scroll and on it are 17 animals if you can spot them, including a monkey, a snake and bird. And they are all painted within the shape of an elephant. Tien explained that he loved animals so it was a fun project for him to do.

For Kan Tai-keung, he tries to "draw" characters in No Basic Rules. While he admits his Chinese calligraphy is not very good, he thought he'd try to experiment by creating landscapes that are painted like characters. They are broad strokes that look like a strange mountain range poking though the clouds.

Faith Moves Mountain
In Faith Moves Mountain, Lam Tung-pang drew a giant mountain range on a large sheet of wood, which he worked on in Beijing. As he drew it with pencil he would erase it, and leave the eraser bits on the wood which became part of the texture of the piece.

For more action, Chow Chun-fai produced Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, by reproducing in large scale a specific scene in the Oscar-winning movie. He chose the scene in the tea house where a character says, "I heard a true master has arrived" and captures it on canvas. He said he has gotten a lot of reaction from the public because it's such a famous movie.

Almond Chu's portrait of Ai Weiwei
And last but not least, photographer Almond Chu has a quartet of portraits named The Chinese Connection -- one of artist and activist Ai Weiwei, composer Tan Dun, poet Bei Dao and sinologist Wolfgang Kubin.

It's so timely to have an image of Ai in a public space that is welcomed unlike the graffiti on the streets. And like the Art HK 11 show where Ai's work called Marble Arm, featuring a man's arm extended with its third finger raised.

Art is a wonderful medium that helps spark conversation and discussion. And by keeping Ai in the spotlight, hopefully our voices will be heard by those illegally detaining him.

Legacy and Creation
Hong Kong Museumf of Art
Salisbury Road
Tsim Sha Tsui
On until August 28

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