A section of Danh Vo's large in-situ installation
One of Rob Pruitt's panda works on display at
What is it about Hong Kong cultural events and dates? For years now, it's been frequently observed that the Le French May arts festival regularly runs from April through to June. And now you've also got the HK Art Week taking place between October 27th and November 9th this year: i.e., a fortnight rather than just seven days!
At least, the organizers got it right when they billed The Gallery Walk for Charity -- that hopefully will become an annual event -- as involving more than 40 galleries on Hong Kong Island. And although my German friend (whom I met on a Tai Lam Country Park hike several years ago and is back in town for a couple of weeks) and I only went to just one quarter of the 48 galleries that opened their doors to participants late into the evening, we were pretty satisfied with what we got to check out; not least because we inadvertently also went and viewed a cool Anish Kapoor solo show at the Gagosian Gallery which actually wasn't part of the event -- but happened to be open to the public at the time that we went into the Pedder Building that's home to a number of respected commercial art galleries taking part in The Gallery Walk for Charity -- today!
Having collected our wristbands that would identify as walk participants at the Fringe Club, we opted to check out the swanky de Sarthe Gallery just a few minutes' walk, and exhibiting works by such as the late Chinese-French painters Zao Wou-Ki and Chu Teh-Chun. Next, we proceeded to the Pedder Building and checked out art works on display at the illustrious likes of the Gagosian, Pearl Lam Galleries, Ben Brown Fine Arts, Hanart TZ Gallery and Massimo De Carlo's Hong Kong gallery; with American artist Rob Pruitt's Hong Kong Panda show particularly catching the eye and, if truth be told, striking us as work we'd more readily -- and stereotypically -- associate with Mainland Chinese artists since pandas are so strongly associated with Mainland China for us.
Perhaps the most startling piece of work we saw this evening was Vietnam-born Danh Vo's The Exorcist-inspired installation named after lines spoken by the demon in the 1973 Hollywood movie, and consisting of over 450 mammoth fossils from the late Pleistocene period and an ivory Jesus Christ figure from the 17th century -- all of which bar one are suspended from the ceiling of the gallery at White Cube! But in terms of enjoyable aesthetics, I actually was more impressed by -- and liked best -- the works of two artists who I've long admired: Yayoi Kusama, four of whose paintings were on display at Whitestone Gallery (along with those of fellow Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara); and Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky, whose awe-inspiring works were on show at the Sundaram Tagore Gallery.
Upon finishing up our art walk with visits to La Galerie, The Cat Street Gallery and Sin Sin Fine Art over in Sheung Wan, my German friend and I concluded that it had been a generally pleasant evening (that had included a dinner stop at Sagrantino since we were getting offered far more alcohol than food at the participating galleries!) even while a mixed bag as far as the art was concerned. Something else that we got to noticing -- and thinking a bit strange, and sad -- was that we (somehow) didn't view works by a single Hong Kong artist even while coming across works by artists from the likes of Turkey, Spain and Canada as well as the usual Americans, Japanese and Mainland Chinese the entire evening!