Amidst a concrete jungle of towering skyscrapers, continual crowds, and a paradise of designer shops, discovering Hong Kong’s art scene can seem a tough task. In fact, compared to other major cities, Hong Kong was often seen as an empty desert when it came to arts and culture. But look closer and you’ll see this is no longer the case. In recent years, the impressive boom in art galleries, auctions and international exhibitions have made the city a global arts hub. So whether you’re a local or a tourist, check out these 5 activities that’ll be sure to fulfil your artistic cravings…
Soho Gallery Tour
Have you ever wondered how galleries survive the sky-high rent with almost zero visitation? Or why modern art is so expensive? This tour will uncover mysteries such as these and more as you journey through Asia’s dynamic art scene and get a behind-the-scenes tour of Hong Kong’s gallery world. SoHo (meaning south of Hollywood road) is an area in buzzing with over 200 galleries displaying everything from traditional to contemporary art. Lucky for you, this tour handpicks the best on offer and with the insight of expert, enthusiastic guides you’ll be equipped with a fresh new perspective to appreciate the art around you. Not only will you learn about the artwork on display, from sculpture to photography, you’ll also discover how the art world operates and even pick up some tricks on how to bargain at an art market! This tour is also a great way to get clued up on all the up and coming artists of today, so if you’re thinking of visiting an Art Fair you’ll already be armed with a deep insight into the world of modern and contemporary art.
Basel Art Fair
Running from March 23 – 25 2017, Art Basel Hong Kong is one of the world’s most prestigious art fairs attracting some of the best artists, collectors, and galleries from across the globe. Held at the Convention and Exhibition Centre, the show is committed to exhibiting established as well as emerging artists and offers a fascinating cross-culture exchange between East and West. Wandering through the immense, maze-like space provides a truly immersive experience and several of the artworks on display call for audience participation. Zhang Ding’s 18 Cubes last year encouraged visitors to carve graffiti into his scupture’s smooth gold-plated surface with the sharp chisels and gloves provided! In fact every year, a certain number of Art Basel’s exhibits are required to involve audience interaction so get ready to make your mark on some of the world’s most cutting-edge art! From abstract films to extraordinary installations you’ll be amazed by the sheer ingenuity and creative imagination on display at Art Basel.
For more visitor information from ticketing to tours, check out the event’s official website
Street Art Tour
Walk this way and step outside the traditional art venue to explore Hong Kong’s outdoor galleries. As well as being a hotspot for indoor galleries, SoHo is also a vibrant treasure trove of street art. Dive into the colourful network of painted streets and you might just discover that the graffiti you walk past everyday may be a masterpiece worth $200 million! Street art has increasingly evolved into a lively part of the city’s art scene itself and become a fascinating feature of urban environments across the world. This tour will allow you to discover another side of Hong Kong and see something a little different to the art in formal galleries or museums. Your expert guides will also teach you how to recognise certain techniques and individual artists’ unique styles so next time you walk through the city, you can spot these hidden artworks for yourselves.
If, after the tour you’re still yearning for more street art to feast your eyes on then check out the Secret Walls event. Secret Walls is an international street art phenomenon that pits two street artists against each other to battle it out on two blank walls. Started in East London, this live contest has taken Hong Kong by storm since 2012 and is a thrilling way to see some of the best artists from graphic designers to tattoo artists go head to head. Held in front of a rowdy crowd, the contest is more Fight Club in spirit than The Karate Kid so we advise families with children to give it a miss.
To find out more, check out the Secret Walls Facebook page for the most up-to-date information or sign up to their newsletter and be immediately notified of events near you!
Hollywood Road Markets
Now that you’ve had the chance to absorb the range of art on offer in Hong Kong, its time to buy some! Just a short walk from SoHo is Hollywood road, one of the oldest streets in Hong Kong that’s jam-packed with art galleries and antique shops. Strolling down Hollywood road can often feel like wandering through a museum, a museum that’s regularly interspersed with funky cafes and cool bars (I know right? Dreams do come true). If you’re in the market for contemporary art then this is the ideal area to browse around, with galleries such as Sundaram Tagore and Zee Stone Galley offering a wealth of both Asian and Western art. Antique shops such as Arch Angel Art are also bursting with high quality collectible items from vintage jewellery to Chinese porcelain wares and exquisite Ming furniture.
Parallel to Hollywood road you’ll find Upper Lascar Street, otherwise known as Cat Street where you’re far more likely to find a cheap bargain than the more expensive shops of Hollywood road. On this narrow street you’ll find an array of weird and wonderful trinkets. Whether its Chinese snuff bottles, jade bracelets, or some curious Mao memorabilia, you’re certain to find something that catches your eye. For tourists, its also a fantastic place to pick up unique souvenirs to bring back to friends and family.
Since Cat Street is a street market, be ready to put your haggling and bargaining skills to the test! Although the majority of antiques on sale are authentic, be wary of fakes and reproductions especially when it comes to jade and porcelain items. Therefore we recommend doing a little research beforehand so you can be sure to spot the genuine from the fakes. Plus, make sure to have a look at other stalls to compare prices on similar items before purchasing.
As most of the market stalls are closed on Sundays and especially busy on Saturdays, try and visit on a weekday for a more enjoyable (and spacious) experience. Happy shopping!
Chinese Painting Class
Now what’s the fun in exploring Hong Kong’s art scene if you can’t get a little involved yourself? If you’ve spent the day admiring other people’s creative feats, its now time to have a go at your own. During this class you’ll gain a deeper insight into traditional Chinese culture and painting whilst letting your own creative juices flow. Under the guidance of a master artist you’ll learn rice paper, paintbrush and ink techniques as you try your own hand at traditional Chinese painting themes such as flowers, fish and bamboo. In this comfy and informal studio you can let your imagination reign free alongside the free- flowing complementary tea!