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Toy Tank  2006  Amy Cheung Wan-man

Toy Tank 2006 Amy Cheung Wan-man

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.

Legend of the Fist, "China is not ruled by Chinese anyway"  2012  Chow Chun Fai

Legend of the Fist, “China is not ruled by Chinese anyway” 2012 Chow Chun Fai

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

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