Hong Kong Art Basel (image from the Art Basel website)
In recent years with the new arrivals of Art Basel, Tai Kwun, and the highly anticipated M+ Museum, Hong Kong has fast become one of Asia’s best global art scene destinations. With the city boasting some of the region’s finest international and independent galleries, as well as a booming local art scene – you would be a fool to miss this city off your bucket list. Read on to find out our art guide to the best museums, art galleries, events and more in the fast-changing, cosmopolitan city of Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Arts Centre (Image via Discover Hong Kong)
M+ Pavilion sits in the middle of the West Kowloon Cultural District, a 40-hectare arts and culture hub on the waterfront of West Kowloon. The multi-billion project designed by architects Foster + Partners for the area is still under development, including the M+ museum, which will hold an astonishing 183,000 square feet of exhibition space. Until M+ opens in 2019, the M+ Pavilion is serving as a smaller momentary site for M+ exhibitions, which hosts mostly contemporary Asian artists. While the pavilion may be small, the surrounding area is still a great location to visit to take in the panoramic views of the Hong Kong skyline across Victoria Harbour. Visit their website to find the schedule for more information.
West Kowloon Cultural District, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong, Kong www.westkowloon.hk
Image via the HKAC website
Hong Kong Arts Centre
The Hong Kong Arts Centre (HKAC) is a self-financed, non-profit organisation that is widely recognised as an arts and culture incubator for Hong Kong. The non-profit arts organisation is devoted to visual art, dance, film, theatre, and literature. The HKAC’s main building is situated in Wan Chai, with facilities including a cinema, theatres, galleries, classrooms, studios, restaurants and office space. The building’s fourth and fifth floors are home to the Pao Galleries, a split-level exhibition space that displays contemporary art, photography, and design. Exhibitions in the past have included works by renowned artists such as Daido Moriyama and Imran Qureshi, among many others.
2 Harbour Rd, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2582 0200 www.hkac.org.hk
Image via scmp
Hong Kong Museum of Art
Established in 1962 the Hong Kong Museum of Art’s collection encompasses 16,000 works of art spread over seven galleries, from fine art to calligraphy scrolls to antique Chinese ceramics. As a platform for international artistic exchange, the museum also presents a great variety of thematic exhibitions drawn from leading worldwide museums and institutions. As well as the Tsim Sha Tsui location the museum’s Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware is also well worth a visit. Located in the middle of Hong Kong Park, it’s a beautiful spot to visit, then go for a stroll around the surrounding scenic grounds.
Hong Kong Museum of Art, 10 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware, 10 Cotton Tree Dr, Central, Hong Kong www.lcsd.gov.hk
Parasite image via Post-ism
Hong Kong is home to over 300 art galleries, from renowned international dealers to smaller independent players. The first stop on your tour to familiarise yourself with the local gallery scene should be Soho, a chic neighborhood above Central. Especially the steep winding thoroughfares of Hollywood Road and Wyndham Street, which you can easily access by the world’s longest escalator. This area boasts some of the city’s most respected galleries, sitting between stylish eateries, antique shops, and fashion boutiques. If you have more time in the city and an adventuress spirit, we also recommend travelling to Fotan, Chai Wan and Wong Chuk Hang. Which are all hip upcoming neighbourhoods that are also home to many local and international galleries, hidden within old factory buildings. And if you have even more time in the region, we advise to check out Hong Kong’s neighbour Shenzhen. The city in Mainland China is fast becoming an emerging art and cultural hub that you will be pleasantly surprised by.
Our recommendations of galleries in Hong Kong to add to your list:
Image via H Queens
Key international galleries: If you are looking for a one-stop shop visit H Queens. Which is an architectural icon in itself, designed to be at the center of Hong Kong’s art and lifestyle in the middle of Central. The development houses non-traditional spaces for exhibitions with the interest of promoting the arts and expanding its audience. H Queens is home to international galleries such as David Zwirner, Hauser & Wirth, SA+ Seoul Auction and Galerie Ora Ora. Other notable international galleries to visit are White Cube, Gagosian Gallery, Ben Brown Fine Arts, and Pace Gallery.
Best galleries for contemporary Chinese art: While in the orient Pekin Fine Arts, Tang Contemporary and Pearl Lam Galleries are worth a visit to learn more about the contemporary Chinese art scene in the city.
Old Hong Kong institutions: With Hong Kong being saturated with countless newcomers to choose from we have filtered out the old Hong Kong institutions for you that should not be missed. Hanart TZ, Galerie du Monde, Para Site, and Cat Street Gallery are all leading names among the older galleries that are well worth a visit.
Alternative galleries: For innovative, boundary-pushing art visit Gallery EXIT; for urban art visit Above Second; for progressive contemporary photography head to Blindspot Gallery and for a space that nurtures and showcases local talents go to PubArt Gallery.
If you often find galleries intimidating through big glass walls and want a deeper understanding of Hong Kong island’s galleries. Then we highly recommend Accidental Art’s Soho Gallery Tour. This tour will equip you with the knowledge of the gallery eco-system in HK and will award you with a fresh pair of eyes to appreciate the art world. www.accidentalart.co/soho-gallery-tour
Other points of interest
Hong Kong Arts Month
If you were wondering when the best time to visit Hong Kong was for your art-filled trip, we have the answer. March is the highlight of the year for the art world in Hong Kong due to four jam-packed weeks of exhibitions, art events, pop-ups, seminars and more. It’s a time when global collectors, connoisseurs, and art-loving celebrities flock to the city for shows like Art Basel, Art Central, and the Asia Contemporary Art Show, as well as a countless number of smaller events and happenings. If you are interested in visiting during the month of March, make sure to book your tickets for events far in advance as tickets sell out fast.
HK walls in Sham Shui Po image via Design Boom
Hong Kong’s growing street art scene has been taken up a notch since the arrival of HK Walls, an annual street art festival and alternative community project that began in 2014. Each year in March, notorious street artists fly in from all over the world to participate in this special urban art event. The festival focuses on a neighborhood of Hong Kong, by working together with local landlords and business owners who are enthusiastic to let street artists paint over their walls and storefront gates. Neighbourhoods that have been transformed so far being Sheung Wan, Stanley Market, Sham Shui Po, and Wong Chuk Hang. Details about all the artworks and where to find them can be found on the HK Walls website. www.hkwalls.org
Located in the heart of Central in the former old police station on Hong Kong Island, the newly opened Tai Kwun is devoted to presenting contemporary art exhibitions and programmes as platforms for the continually expanding cultural discourse of the city. With Tai Kwun Contemporary being the contemporary art programming arm of Tai Kwun, it is dedicated to presenting contemporary art exhibitions and programmes, working with other like-minded institutions and art groups. Tai Kwun Contemporary hosts six to eight curated exhibitions every year alongside exciting public programmes. The exhibitions are presented in 1500 square metres of museum-standard galleries, designed by Herzog & de Meuron. Additionally, within the Central Police Station compound, there are numerous other public artworks, gallery spaces and pop up events not to be missed.
10 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong
Asia Society is a leading educational organization dedicated to promoting a mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among peoples and institutions of Asia and the United States in a global context. Across the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, the Society provides insight, generates ideas, and promotes collaboration to address present challenges and create a shared future. The Hong Kong Center being one of 13 global affiliates, has established its home in Admiralty at the former Explosives Magazine of the old Victoria Barracks. Steeped in history, cultural significance and natural beauty, the 1.3 hectares site, which houses a group of four former British military buildings, was originally built by the British Army in the mid-19th century for explosives and ammunition production and storage. Through careful conservation, restoration, and adaptive re-use, this heritage site was successfully transformed into a cultural, artistic and intellectual hub in Hong Kong in 2012 and offers a broad variety of programs in the form of lectures, performances, film screenings and exhibitions to the community.
Visit their website to find the schedule for more information – www.asiasociety.org/hong-kong
9 Justice Drive Admiralty Hong Kong
Text by Peigi Mackillop