It’s great to see the newly renovated Hong Kong Museum of Art back open for visitors, with a free, immersive exhibition in “The Lab” on the fifth floor, which harks back to pre-handover life. Working through guest curators, New Horizons examines the crucial turning points, new trends and sensibilities in contemporary art in Hong Kong during the 1980s and 1990s.
The exhibition most notably features a restaging of iconic art spaces of the time, most notably Para/Site Coffee Shop and NuNaHeDuo Organization of Hong Kong Contemporary Photography. The site specific “Coffee Shop” has been lovingly recreated for visitors to walk through (without coffee), dotted with photos and memorabilia from the original Kennedy Town space in 1998.
NuNaHeDuo features some striking prints from the year of the handover, including Wong Kai-yu Blues’ Countdown (1997), a set of four black-and-white diptychs: the muddled, confusing male figures somehow drowned in a sea of clocks. Directly opposite is Lau Ching-ping’s Time Parallax (1997), a set of three black-and-white diptychs: each bleak pair of photos looks almost identical, except one being labelled 1997, and the other 2047.
In particular, the exhibition sheds light on the creative breakthroughs of young local artists, which ushered in the rise of new artistic experimentation and formats. Chan Yuk-keung’s mixed media sculpture Vertical Rye Field (1996) has been reconstructed: two strung-up patchwork sacks, spilling out white flour and stalks of wheat. An eye-opening and immersive exhibition about this important period in the history of Hong Kong art.
Open 5 March – 24 April 2021 at the Hong Kong Museum of Art.