By THE NATION
And with the latest cultural venues and street artworks that have emerged in recent months, art and culture enthusiasts will surely find Hong Kong the perfect place to immerse themselves in an artsy ambience.
Art Basel Hong Kong and Art Central Be, both taking place from March 27 to 31, promise a lavish visual feast.
Now in its seventh year, Art Basel Hong Kong will return to the conveniently located Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre with 242 galleries from 36 countries, 21 of which are new to the show.
Also boasting a strong lineup is Art Central, where some 100 galleries will showcase art from around the globe. The fifth edition will also feature carefully curated performances, large-scale installations, new media art and talks. Appreciating art aside, patrons will be served a riveting view of Victoria Harbour and the city’s signature skyline at the Central Harbourfront venue.
Various important cultural venues have sprung up in the city over the past 10 months. One of them is Xiqu Centre, which opened in January this year. Dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Cantonese opera, the Xiqu Centre is noteworthy not simply for being the first venue in the much-anticipated West Kowloon Cultural District to open its doors, but also for its striking architectural design that juxtaposes traditional and modern elements.
With a futuristic form and a steel structure, the eight-storey edifice is in fact a reinterpretation of the traditional Chinese lantern, and its facade is shaped to resemble the parted curtains on a performing stage. While admiring the architecture, visitors are encouraged to enjoy an intimate Cantonese opera viewing experience over traditional tea and dim sum at the Tea House Theatre.
Another recent arrival is The Mills, an innovation and cultural hub transformed from a textile factory. Situated in Tsuen Wan, once an industrial area and now a major residential district, The Mills celebrates the golden days of Hong Kong’s textile industry and carries on the legacy by nurturing the city’s creative talents. Inside the Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile (CHAT) that is set to open in March, visitors can learn about the history of Hong Kong’s textile industry and the current local and global textile arts landscape. Visitors are warmly invited to experience the manual cotton-spinning process using traditional spinning instruments at CHAT’s Welcome to the Spinning Factory.
Starting from March 16, visitors can appreciate the array of contemporary textile arts displayed at the Unfolding: Fabric of Our Life Exhibition.
Another key heritage site worth visiting is Tai Kwun, one of the city’s largest heritage revitalisation projects, which took a decade and HK$3.8 billion to complete. Three iconic declared monuments are now part of this cultural destination that houses a world-standard contemporary art museum and some of the city’s chicest restaurants and boutiques. Apart from snapping and admiring the beauty, architecture and design of the complex, visitors coming during Hong Kong Arts Month can enjoy free sitespecific performances, urban dance battles, community and contemporary dance, workshops and screenings in the HKArtsFestival@TaiKwun programme over two weekends (March 210 ).
The art experience in Hong Kong is not limited to standalone events and places. Out in the open, art has penetrated the corners of different neighbourhoods, inviting the curious to explore these living “street art museums”. Take a stroll at Central, Sheung Wan and the latest “Artlane” in the hip Sai Ying Pun area, where murals by local and overseas artists can be found on walls of old buildings and staircases. Hunt too for shutter art around Hong Kong painted by young local artists under an initiative aptly called “HK Urban Canvas”, depicting the unique personalities and stories behind local shops and keep an eye out for buzzing street scenes, intriguing contrasts and all the oddities that make Hong Kong an exciting place.
Those who seek more sensory stimulation will find a plethora of performing arts events, the most notable of which is the Hong Kong Arts Festival. With a history of more than four decades, the annual bonanza featuring opera, theatre, music, dance and more has been an artery of the city’s cultural life. Visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy 166 performances and some 300 outreach activities by more than 1,700 artists from around the world during the 31-day-long programme. It continues through March 23.
A visit to Hong Kong in March will leave you with more than just amazing photographs and feeds, book a trip to Hong Kong now and dive into a sea of arts and cultural treasures!