Wednesday, September 15, 2010

SATOSHI on Hong Kong Art Galleries

On Saturday September 4, I had the chance to walk around SOHO area and visit a couple of galleries. I know I want to start out with Chen Fei’s show at the Schoeni Gallery and end in Para/Site Art Space to pay for a Tsang Kinwah print that I ordered.

During the visits, it made me realize how different the galleries are in terms of relating to me and how I actually feel about each gallery. Usually, I like visiting the galleries with a ‘gweilo’ (westerner) friend as the gallery staff/owners tend to immediately zoom into the foreigner, leaving me alone to slowly appreciate the artworks until I am ready to ask questions on a particular artwork that I am interested in. Unfortunately, on Saturday, I don’t have a decoy.

So, here’s the route I took and the galleries I visited:

• Schoeni Art Gallery @ Hollywood Road: I went there because I thought I got it wrong. I wanted to go to the Chen Fei show, which I knew was in the main branch, but right there in the window of the Hollywood branch was a Chen Fei painting, so I went in. Guess what? The Chen Fei show was in the main branch.

• Schoeni Art Gallery @ Old Bailey Street: The door was closed, so I thought that they were not yet opened until I notice that I need to ring the bell. I did and the door opened. What came after was just a very typical Schoeni experience, the staff leaves you alone and the moment I ask a question, the feeling I get was that I shouldn't be bothering them. The Chen Fei Hong Kong debut solo show, however, was stunning. While some pieces are overtly sexual, they are always about him. He is preoccupied with himself, but always in a tongue-in-cheek way, narcissistic yet not in a serious way. The colorful and "superflat" approach to his pictures is very much in the "manga" style in the stream of Murakami and Matsuura.

• Osage Gallery @ Old Bailey Street: Right across Schoeni is the Li Xinping show at the Osage. The person in the shop was very chatty and friendly. The new Li Xinping pieces shown here focused on a more organic and natural theme, which were attractive but not as involving and thought-provoking as his previous series which focused on fabled and dreamy discourses concerning Chinese culture.

• 10 Chancery Lane Gallery @ Chancery Lane: As I walk down back to Hollywood Road, I did a side trip to 10 Chancery Lane Gallery. The pieces there at that time were a collection of works by different artists. It is here in the gallery that I realized that my love for Simon Birch’s works has died. There is a certain lack of development in his work. By the way, it is only in this gallery that I entered and left without actually seeing any gallery staff… so even if I have any question, there is really no opportunity for me to ask.

• Plum Blossoms Gallery @ Hollywood Road: Back to Hollywood Road, I went to Plum Blossoms. This gallery is the most peculiar one. The staff was on her computer when I walked in. She took a glance at me and continued what she was doing. After having a good walk around the gallery, I went to the door and I decided to say thank you, she grunted.

• Connoisseur Art Gallery @ Hollywood Road: Beside Plum Blossoms are two Connoisseur Art Galleries. The one artist that took my breathe away was Li Shurui. Her works deal with lights inspired by LED signage. The effect was of almost out-of-focus colored dots that when viewed from different angles and distances lures ones eyes to try to either concentrate on the piece or give up and look away. I have to say that so far, this is one gallery that I find has the best staff. The sales pitch has a fine balance of artistic insights of the works themselves and a clear understanding of how a collector (or at least I) approaches art acquisition.

• Arch Angel Art @ Hollywood Road: This gallery stood out in Hollywood Road as the rudest gallery I have ever visited. I once walked into this gallery with my “gweilo” friend. As usual, the "gweilo” gallery personnel zoomed into my friend. After a few minutes, I found that I was very interested in a couple of paintings thus I asked about them. Inevitably, I have to ask about the price. After asking for the price of the third painting, the gallery personnel snapped at me, “Are you more interested with the price or with the painting?”. This time, I just simply walked pass it.

• Amelia Johnson Contemporary @ Shin Hing Street: I went inside this gallery with no expectation except to see the two artists I have come to love: Konstantin Bessmertny and Tang Kwokhin. The personnel here was more or less like the regular sales clerk in a department store.

• Gallery Exit @ Shin Hing Gallery: This was the biggest surprise of the day. In this small gallery was a collection of contemporary arts, both from Japan and Hong Kong, which were very unexpected, beautiful and insightful. In the gallery was the part owner who is a collector himself. He clearly understand the works extremely well and presented them to me in the most clear and insightful way. Works by Lin Xue here were so far the most amazing with his micro and macro studies of the traces of nature… joyful and unsettling.

• Cat Street Gallery @ Hollywood Road: Sigh, what can I say about this gallery… it reminds me of those gallery that one finds in big malls in the U.S.A. The difference was that in this gallery, the staff was busy doing something behind the very high counter that I didn’t notice her until she popped out to say goodbye… I would have preferred for her to say hello.

• Para/Site Art Space @ Po Yan Street: One of my favorite organization. I went in, paid for my Tsang Kinwah print and left.

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At September 15, 2010 at 2:58 PM , Anonymous HT said...

Hi Satoshi, I just came back from Hanoi. You have lots of paintings from Vietnamese painters - did you go to the Green Palm Gallery?

At September 15, 2010 at 3:44 PM , Blogger SATOSHI said...

HI HT! Hanoi does have a healthy visual art scene, but for some reason, it suddenly fell out of favor among collectors. I don't remember going to the Green Palm Gallery in Hanoi. Was it good?

At September 22, 2010 at 4:09 PM , Anonymous HT said...

I didn't find anything striking to my amateurish eyes, the gallery was empty and I didn't sense a friendly vibe from the sales, so I left rather quickly:)


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