Hong Kong. One of the most densely populated areas in the world. I know. I lived there for a time. And it wasn’t easy finding work by Hong Kong artists – mainland China yes, plenty but Hong Kong no. So I was intrigued to see who the Saatchi Gallery would present in their show Hong Kong Eye (ends 12 January 2013), and I was excited too as it is co-curated by Johnson Chang Tsong-zung. There is no-one in a better position to curate a survey of Hong Kong art right now than Johnson.
And there were some arresting works. Amy Cheung Wan-man’s Toy Tank 2006 commanded the centre of one room and Justin Wong Chiu-tat’s installation Difficult Life Station 2011, which occupies an entire wall, proved of great interest to my companion. So why did I feel so non-plussed? It was of great agitation to me. I felt quickly drawn into the smokey haze of Chow Chun Fai’s work and would have lingered much longer with the exquisite silk painting by Leung Kui Tung.
But when I first arrived at the Saatchi gallery I spent some time in the New Art From Russia show, ‘Gaiety Is The Most Outstanding Feature Of The Soviet Union’ and oh how we had enjoyed the gaiety. I found it a tough show. Excoriating at times, a bit too blundering at others. But it was certainly a hit of cold reality.
Walking into the two Hong Kong show galleries, choked full of works all fighting for space, felt a bit like Hong Kong itself. And the contrast was a bit too great. I couldn’t switch easily and the space was just too small for what was actually quite a large show of over 50 works by 18 artists. As I left, I couldn’t help wondering – where was Wilson Shieh?
Hong Kong Eye 2012 at Saatchi Gallery, London to 12 January 2013