In May, at the time of the most important annual art event in Hong Kong, ART HK, Schoeni Art Gallery will focus on local artists and their visibility on the international art scene.
The shifting balance of power towards the East, from the recession in the West to a more dynamic and resilient economy in Asia, has impacted the art market. China's Economy is at the forefront and so is Contemporary art from the Mainland.
Under British colonial rule since 1842, Hong Kong suffered dramatically from the Japanese occupation during World War II, and its decreased population and dilapidated economy were reborn from emigration from Communist China and British industrial, trade and transport developments efforts. After the Handover in 1997, the "one country- two systems" concept partially stayed in effect, allowing Hong Kong to benefit from the rapid growth of the Mainland and at the same time remain singular. Therefore the work of Hong Kong are infused with a unique mixed identity and address societal, political and environmental (urbanisation and industrialisation) contemporary issues, specific to the territory but also of greater resonance, like artists in Mainland China, Indonesia or the Philippines. Their aesthetics and message are as engaging, and its local roots and particular history add originality and diversity.
It is worth observing however that Hong Kong artists have risen to fame and success regionally and internationally, but as individuals though rather than a collective. Surprisingly, most Hong Kong artists, even those who are established, have been spared the high speculation of the art market. Their presence on the Asian art scene, which a country at a time is under the spotlight of "ROI"* oriented buyers, has been acknowledged by collectors and institutions but their market stake is still relatively small and the press has not yet cast its spotlight on Hong Kong as the next best region for contemporary art. As Hong Kong comes to the foreground of the international art scene, its artists' names are bound to come up more in the world art chatter. Their greater visibility and enhanced market value to the point of becoming a "brand" of its own are only a matter of time.
Nicole Schoeni invited Eric Leung, one of the most acclaimed local art curators, to showcase the local art scene as a whole, and to select a representative group of artists who illustrate the culture and specificities of Hong Kong. Eric chose among the already established starling local talents and the emerging artists. What they have in common is that they all grew up in Hong Kong and graduated from local colleges and universities. Most of them are also engaged with the community and have collaborated to or created public art projects. For the majority of them, the focus of their works illustrate concerns for the density of the population, exhaustion of natural resources and destruction of the environment and the disconnect human beings suffer from, both with Nature and among themselves.
For example Hung Keung in his video installation work Sloping – a Divided Mind records from different angles the slopes of the Hong Kong island peak, and compiles them into an amusing visualisation of city movements. Whereas female sculptor Man Fung Yi in Weaving Intimacy (Body Lines) takes metal threads and delicately weaves them into daily garments. Kum Chi Keung's Spreading of the Red Gene transforms the bird cage into an apple, and reflects on the contradictions of life through the people flying inside the cage. Kevin Fung Lik Yan makes a new attempt in his stone sculpture piece Cross the River by Feeling the Stones, which is really a reflection of Hong Kong people's sub-consciousness today.