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Stop Press is ISBN Magazine’s guide to happenings in Hong Kong. From art to auctions and from food to fashion, to entertainment, cinema, sport, wine and design, scroll through the best of the city's dynamic cultural offerings. And if your event merits mention in our little book of lifestyle chic, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
This playground of monumental artworks make Mobile M+: Inflation! one of the largest contemporary art exhibitions mounted in the city, and features selections by international artistic luminaries - Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller's 'Sacrilege' a full size inflatable replica of one of the world's iconic monuments, Stonehenge (bottom) - alongside newly commissioned artworks by local and regional artists Tam Wai Ping (giant insect, below) and Cao Fei (glowing pig, left). The six works will be accompanied by a performance piece by Tomás Saraceno (Argentina) on May 4 and 25 and June 8.
Inviting the public to interact like Lilliputians with this sizescape, Inflation! questions the nature of public art and ways audiences engage with it. (Anything like the recent Andy Warhol free-floating silver pillows exhibit at the Hong Kong Museum of Art, then adults - and kids - are in for a treat). Several pieces are derived from everyday objects inflated to render the familiar defamiliar, more tangible and tactile. Others question the nature and potential of art and architecture in public space through installations which reflect on human relationships to the built environment and the natural world.
By exploring the shifting notions of nature and artifice, intimacy and monumentality, temporariness and permanence, as well as beauty and the grotesque, Inflation! probes the role of public art in the context of an evolving and endlessly mutating constructed landscape. It's art but not as we know it and Tam's channelling of Planet of the Apes, the Statue of Liberty, the lower half of a human body and a headless cockroach in black latex may not please the aesthetes, but makes exclamation marks.
Inflation! acts as a prelude to the opening of the Park in 2014, highlighting the future possibilities for multi-disciplinary arts programming on the site. “Inflation! is an example of the numerous possibilities that the future park will offer for our exhibition programming," says Lars Nittve, executive director of M+. "It represents our ambition to display the full spectrum of visual culture from a Hong Kong perspective that incorporates a global vision. Inhabiting the future site of the Park of West Kowloon Cultural District, ‘Mobile M+: Inflation!’ also broaches the possibilities of how art might play an integral role in this park as we go forward,” Nittve says.
Inflation! is a part of Mobile M+, a series of pre-opening ‘nomadic’ exhibitions curated by M+ that aim to engage the public ahead of the opening of the museum, scheduled for completion in late 2017. By realising projects that aren't possible in a conventional museum, Mobile M+ seeks to turn the perceived disadvantage of being “rootless” into an advantage by staging events that embrace a multi-disciplinary approach. Watch this space!
The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of on-site events ranging from artist talks, workshops, guided tours to performances.
Mobile M+: INFLATION!: Tues – Thurs: 12pm to 7pm; Fri – Sun: 11am to 8pm; Closed Mondays; During Art Basel Hong Kong: 10am – 8pm; West Kowloon
An obsession, or occupation, an addiction, a disease, a fate, an absurdity and a fascination, stamps are more than just proof of postage. These unassuming colored windows into time and space have, since their inception in 1840, become a chronicle of our development. They are miniature gateways to the world instructing collectors and novices in geography, politics, biography, history, culture and art. They honour heroes and stories of heroism, they honour daring explorers and major scientific events, they commemorate historical events and the leaders who either made them happen or governed over them. Stamps have transcended their quotidian function and become something greater: compelling works of art that serve, in the words of the poet W. B. Yeats, as "the silent ambassadors on national taste." As art - postage stamps are seen by the largest audience - they gallery around the globe.
And then there's monetary value. From nerd to niche, stamp collectors and their art are the new painting, jewellery, vintage cars and complex watches combined. Sweden's Treskillng Yellow, accidentally printed yellow rather than blue-green, at $US2.3 million and weighing 0.02675 grams, is described as the world's most valuable item. That's a mighty US$85.98 billion per kilogram. Can any artifact fight so far above its weight as the ubiquitous and flimsy stamp? The stamp is stylish syntax no lifestylester can afford to be stuck without. And their names, titles and eccentricities are legends you may next be quoting, if not wearing: the Mauritius Blue, the Penny Black and Twopenny Blue, the Inverted Jenny and 1c Z grill. The Treskilling has a glamorous past. The only one of its type ever found, it was discovered by a Swedish schoolboy in 1885, [try finding that on PlayStation today] later seized by the French government as reparations after the first world war and has since belonged to eminent collectors including King Carol II of Romania. [England's King George V was a prolific collector and his oeuvre was passed on to Queen Elizabeth II].
Given increased interest in collectable items with the rising affluence of Hong Kong and mainland consumers, stamp auctions are becoming as frequent as their wine and watch counterparts, To wit, Zurich Asia will auction a series of stamps and covers [more than 2,000 lots] issued by the British Postal Agencies in China (1917-1930), comprising many rare Hong Kong CHINA overprints. These treasures have never been auctioned before. The star lot is a unique 1922 'two cents' green 'specimen' stamp [above] in black italic, thought to be the only one of its kind, and expected to fetch between HK$130,000-HK$150,000. Britain gained a number of commercial privileges in select Chinese ports in the 19th century, which were also known as 'Treaty Ports'. In each, British consulates were created where consuls acted like postal agents. From 1844 onwards, the Hong Kong Post Office allowed the consults to receive and transmit post to Hong Kong. In the 1910s, a set of stamps were specifically printed for use in China, rather than adopting Hong Kong adhesives. These stamps were used for a short period as the Chinese government negotiated the abolition of all foreign postal agencies on the mainland on the first day of 1923.
Also noteworthy is a unique 1894 Dowager 9 Candarins bright green block of four [right] with perforations between and on the corner margins which is expected to fetch from HK$800,000 to HK$1 million. It is the only recorded tete-beche block [a pair of stamps printed with one upside-down in relation to its partner - see bottom-left pane - which happens either deliberately or by accident]. The stamps were previously in the private collection of esteemed luminary Huang Ming Fang.
Sale items will go on view at the Harbour Plaza Hotel in North Point, from April 11-12, where Zurich Asia will hold its auction: Stamps, Postal History & Coins of China and Other Countries from April 13-14.
Now extended until April 1, 2013 - 210,000 visitors have seen the exhibit since its December 16 opening - the Hong Kong Museum of Art's Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal exhibition comprises more than 400 works by the influential superstartist divided into four sections spanning the 1950's to the '80s. Paintings, drawings - Warhol cited fashion illustrator René Gruau as a big influence during the first decade of his career in the 1950's - photographs and screen prints, sculptures, films and videos [he made more than 600 films and nearly 2,500 videos], ensure Warhol's prodigious output is broadly represented. His greatest hits are there - the Campbell's Soup Can series, the Brillo Box, the Marilyn, Mao and self-portraits, along with art project Time Capsule-23, which includes items collected by Warhol during his visit to Hong Kong in 1982.
The surprise is that the lesser known work is more interesting and more varied. As chief curator Eve Tam notes: "I am sure visitors will appreciate the fact that the art of Andy Warhol is more than the familiar images of Campbells Soup Cans and Marilyn Monroe." His shoe illustrations from the 1950s are high on style and humour, the latter a quality less evident the longer Warhol's work goes on; Suicide , a grainy black and white silkscreen print depicts a man with bent legs and upraised arms in free-fall following a leap from a high-rise tower, and is harrowingly reminiscent of the World Trade Centre attacks of September 11, 2001. Alternatively, installation piece Silver Clouds [1960s] is a room filled with free-floating pillow-shaped silver balloons - a fantastical children's playground - conceived by Warhol to give visitors a joyful experience. It's fun, smart, surprising, the sort of mass-participation counter-culture that says Warhol's Pop art is for everyone.
Sunsets  - who knew Warhol painted such natural subjects - emerge like a prototype Apple Mac colour palette. A 'Children's Gallery' showcases Warhol's work for pop tots in 1983; monkeys, parrots, dogs and circus clowns are set against Fish wallpaper. The extended Long Horse painting is enchanting, and the Day-Glo pink and chartreuse of Warhol's Cow (left) in wallpaper format vivid and uplifting. Films Empire and Eat are worth a diversion, while Greek king Alexander the Great  gets two iconic images to himself. All of which goes to prove, when it comes to Warhol's pop art, there's more fizz in the less familiar.
The Hong Kong Museum of Art, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. From 10am to 8pm daily. The museum is closed on Thursdays (except public holidays) and the first two days of Chinese New Year. Admission HK$20 on Monday, Tuesday and Friday to Sunday, and HK$10 on Wednesday.
Image: Andy Warhol, Cow, 1966, screen print on wallpaper. Collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh ©2012 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York
London's Fine Art Society pops-up in Hong Kong for seven days next week, with an exhibition juxtaposing three areas of specialism; Modern British Art, Scottish Painting from 1750 and International Contemporary Art. Several names are already familiar to Hong Kong collectors such as the explosive paint-pigment duo Rob and Nick Carter, the Godfather of British Pop Art Sir Peter Blake - his artwork graces the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album - and whose graphic rendering of the Fine Art Society flag [pictured] is on show. Then there's sophisticated mural artist Hugo Dalton, who adapts Asian elements into his site-specific light installation, Redemption. The event revisits notables such as Chris Levine whose reputation has gained regal stature this Diamond Jubilee Year for his luminous portraits of Queen Elizabeth II. There is Melanie Comber's textured abstract surface paintings - are they aerial views or extreme close-up perspectives - in advance of her first solo show at the city's Cat Street Gallery next spring. And Britain's foremost stone carver and sculptor Emily Young, whose exquisite works embody the physical history of each piece of stone and the chronicles of humanity - 2000 BC meets 21st century in her Arco Iris Head.
Joining them is an accessorial list of first-timers in Asia who may represent good value for collectors. These include a key work - The Hit - by playwright, painter and former partner of actress Tilda Swinton, John Bryne, whose work depicts the subtext of danger in urban scenes without cliché-ing the darkness. The Sydney-based realist painter Giles Alexander's layered oil and resin creations, and Mario Rossi’s seascapes, paintings that reveal the symbolic potency and protean unpredictability of the sea in relation to geopolitics, identity and territory.
There's some snazzy photographic work by two practitioners who explore disparate worlds; the telescopic cityscapes (Metropoly) and bug-eyed projections of sky fanatic Peter Newman. Presented like time-zone clocks, these works occupy a mid-point between sculpture, painting and photography. The images are taken with a vintage scientific lens, originally invented for astronomy, that captures a 180-degree view adapted to fit a digital camera. Newman shoots the urban scape overhead and calls the sky a space "in which to conceive and live the future." Young architectural photographer Gina Soden does the opposite. She shoots the past. Rummaging around the abandoned remnants of undisclosed sites in Europe - asylums, ex-military compounds and power stations - her grounded yet glorious images evoke decay in a surprisingly upbeat - and painterly - fashion. She brings the same stature to dereliction as Robert Polidari brought to restoration at France's Versailles Palace. Soden's 27-year-old star beckons and her decaesthetic, otherwise known as 'ruin porn', is one to watch and start snapping up. Romantic, ancient and modern, see it all at The Space.
From 1820 to Now: showing at The Space, 210 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan from Tuesday 13 November to Saturday 18 November, 2012
Fritz Lang is a cinematic giant. Epics, adventures, spy thrillers, sci-fi or early film noir, he cross-genred at will, with precise aesthetics, weighty themes, technical innovation and singular vision. His standout film - Metropolis - despite its fame, is not cinema's first science-fiction; Jacob Protazanov [Aelita: Queen of Mars, 1924], preceded it, as did Stuart Paton [20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, 1916] and Forest Holger-Madsen [Heaven Ship, 1917], a Danish film about a trip to Mars. Although Metropolis was sci-fi's sharpest rendering in cinema, the sci-fi was a small part of it; the rise of industry and money and man's role in it - masses working as slaves for the ruling elite in a megacity - formed the mainstay. With its art deco urbanscape, futuristic skyline, an obsession with technology's potential to create machines that might soon replace human beings, the film pre-empted the zeitgeist. Machines were not just dead iron, but organs of power. And Metropolis had Maria [Brigitte Helm]. In one of the film's crowning sequences - Maria undergoes a Frankensteinian DNA-sequencing transmission as if by virtual hula hoop, wakes as electronic diva, a female C3P0 fifty years before Star Wars, and dances a veiled routine so Mata Hari-esque and minxy, the corpses of the Seven Deadly Sins rise in unison to play musical instruments in thrall to her exotica. See Maria turn Metropolista; Lang does for cinema, what Mary Shelley did for literature.
Born in 1890 in Vienna, Lang switched from civil engineering to art at university. He visited Africa and Asia, and studied painting in Paris. Injured during the First World War, he joined eminent producer Erich Pommer's studio as a screenwriter, and began directing in 1919. Expressionist visual style dominated his works in the 1920s, including Metropolis, Dr. Mabuse The Gambler, Part I & Part II, The Nibelungen, Part I & Part II. The sound film M shot in 1931 was another of his landmarks. After The Testament of Dr. Mabuse was banned by the Nazi Germany, he left his country and made 23 films in Hollywood, mostly film noir, such as The Big Heat and Human Desire. He died in 1976.
Revisiting Lang - or seeing his work for the first time - is realisation of the debt cinema owes him. His influence is everywhere; from James Bond [Dr No, 1963], Masaki Kobayashi [Kwaidan, 1964], George Lucas [Star Wars,1977] Ridley Scott [Blade Runner, 1982], Peter Greenaway [The Draughtsman's Contract, 1982] Terry Gilliam [Brazil, 1985], Luc Besson [The Fifth Element, 1997], Tom Twyker [Run Lola Run, 1998], Tim Burton [Planet of the Apes, 2001], Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang [What Time is it There?, 2001] and even Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar-wai's obsession with time and clocks, which Lang felt exerted sinister control on human lives. Staircases, lifts, maps, circles, polygons, mirrors, arches, geometry and media are other ever-present themes and motifs in Lang's work. There's motion-picture loads of Langian echoes in earlier works too: Leni Riefenstahl [Olympia,1938], F.W. Murnau, his German contemporary, Buster Keaton [Sherlock Jr, 1924], Luis Buňuel [Un Chien Andalou,1929], and much of Hitchcock, via fetishistic motifs - birds, fear of heights - blonde heroines and impeccably dressed leading men.
Destiny  is Lang's first hit. Buňuel said it inspired him to become a filmmaker and Hitchcock told French director Francois Truffaut it impressed him. Lang creates a fantasy allegory with Death granting a woman three chances to save her lover from demise. She experiences three partings in Renaissance Venice, ancient Persia and an imaginary orient in China. The final two conclude with manhunts, setting a precedent for M, Lang's first talkie. Spies  is a stylish thriller so filled with sexual intrigue, high-tech gadgetry and fiendishly slick criminality it still defines the genre 84 years on.
From where did Lang source his inspiration? Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man - inspired in turn by Roman architect Vitruvius - might be a little noted but large presence in Metropolis. Cinematically, he borrowed from Edwin S. Porter [The Great Train Robbery, 1903], Louis Feuillade [Fantômas, 1913], Maurice Torneur [Alias Jimmy Valentine, 1915], Mauritz Stiller [Sir Arne's Treasure, 1919], Ernst Lubitsch [Madame Dubarry, 1919], Rex Ingram [Scaramouche, 1923] and mined Rudolph Valentino films, particularly Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, 1921, also by Ingram. Lang liked good-looking leading men in even better looking suits whose aesthetic withstood whatever plot - and a trip to the Moon - threw at them. [Think Cary Grant in North by Northwest, 1959]. And with Lang, they - and we - get that and more.
The Hong Kong Film Archive is showing a retrospective of sixteen classics by Frtiz Lang until November 18, to be followed by influential German expressionist master, F.W. Murnau, whose 12 surviving films run from December 22 to January 27. Almost all are restored.
In the masculine and explosive world of commercial Chinese artists like Ai Weiwei and Cai Guo-Qiang, one could be forgiven for thinking that art in the mainland is the prerequisite of the male gender. It still is. But recently female Chinese artists have begun to emerge. Only one of them is an outright star; Xiao Lu. She shot to fame overnight in China’s art world in 1989 by firing a loaded gun at her work Dialogue during a government-sponsored exhibition in Beijing, just a few months prior the Tiananmen Square debacle. Her gesture wasn’t political, philosophical, or economic, but emotional. She’d had a tiff with her artist partner and her frustration was self-reflexive. Her subsequent work, 15 Gunshots (1989-2003) [above] with its confrontational, repetitive pop spirit – a bullet-hole in the glass of each of the 15 photographs – is an Orson Wellesian, Warholian-inspired whiz-bang scene-stealer. She’s angry yes, and hurt, and seemingly bent on self-or-somebody-else’s destruction.
Pearl Lam Galleries' Dust from the Heart exhibition in Hong Kong features Xiao's work and four other leading contemporary female artists in China; Juju Sun, Cui Xiuwen, He Chengyao and Cai Jin. Ranging from video and installation to photography and painting, themes of feminine sexuality, stereotyping, fertility, labour discrimination, death and decay abound, set against the backdrop of 20 years of cataclysmic change in China. “These artists are willing to openly put forward their sensibilities and experiences, providing an exceptional insight into the workings of female artists in China today,” says gallery founder Pearl Lam.
The works – from Juju’s hard to read but easy to feel abstract landscapes, to Cai Jin’s more literal renderings of fertility and nature, and from He’s naked portrait and performance work Illusion, 2002 [below], to Cui’s Ladies Room prostitution video – suggest that more than being by and about women, the desire to be individual is their defining characteristic.
Showing at Pearl Lam Galleries: 601-605, 6/F Pedder Building, 12 Pedder St, Central, Hong Kong. Until October 11, 2012. Monday-Saturday 10am-7pm.
Images: Xiao Lu, 15 Gunshots (1989-2003), 15 photographs each 100 x 45cm; He Chengyao, Illusion, 2002, Photograph, 483 x 28
“Fasten your seat belts – it’s going to be a bumpy night!”, says actress Margo Channing (Bette Davis) to her cocktail guests in this ultra classy, dialogue-sassy film about theatre. And so it is. Director and scriptwriter Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s All About Eve (1950) is a multiple Oscar winner that received an avalanche of Academy Award nominations – 14. [Only James Cameron’s Titanic has received as many]. Eve presents a highly unflattering and cynical view of show business, depicting rivalry, envy, deceit and betrayal filtered through the backdrop of New York theatre. [Coincidentally, Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard, another self-reflexive satire on the acting profession was released the same year].
The film’s snap starts from the off. Amid a lavish ceremony, actress Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) is to receive an acting award – The Sarah Siddons trophy – in the presence of her simmering, self-inflated peers. A voiceover tells us: "Minor awards are for such as the writer and director, since their function is merely to construct a tower so that the world can applaud a light which flashes on top of it. And no brighter light has ever dazzled the eye than Eve Harrington." The scene freeze-frames and we’re whisked into flashback mode courtesy of lecherous film critic Addison De Witt (George Sanders), whose silky performance and intermittent voiceover revists the misery Eve has wrought.
While Baxter is bland but functional as Eve, Bette Davis blazes. An ageing 40-year-old diva [a case of life mirroring art as Davis was 42] riddled with insecurity, Margo hires Eve, a seemingly innocent and adoring fan, as her assistant. And quickly comes to regret it. Eve will do anything for fame on Broadway, whatever – and whoever – the cost. She snakes her way into Margo’s life and tries to push her out of the fading limelight. In the final outcome, she does, first as an understudy and then by taking one of Margo’s parts. If Davis is the film's queen, Mankiewicz’s script is king. Loving and loathing of the theatre by turns, he made films within and against the studio system, something of a Hollywood maverick. His words are sharp, contemporary, smooth as champagne and quick as cyanide with every satiric sip.
Eve’s closing scene stills unsettles: a young woman, Eve’s understudy Phoebe (Barbara Bates), breaks into Eve’s apartment, dons the award-winner's cape, holds the Sarah Siddons trophy aloft and gloats before a three-paned mirror. As she bows multiple reproductions of her image are reflected in the mirror, a collage of Eves, all preening. And while Phoebe's [as Eve] focus fades, her replications sharpen in clarity. The message is clear and ubiquitous: here today, gone tomorrow, the world is full of Eves. All About Eve, is ever-present.
All About Eve shows at the Hong Kong Film Archive Cinema on June 10 at 2pm. Film critics Ka Ming, Shu Kei, Wong Ain-ling and Sam Ho, programmer of the HKFA, will host a pre-screening talk in Cantonese.
Image: Courtesy of Hong Kong Leisure and Cultural Services Department
Brands have been trampling each other to death in the rush to get into Hong Kong in recent times, in search of mainland China's voracious retailistas. Hollister, GAP, Abercrombie & Fitch, Jack Wills, Forever 21 and H&M's COS [which opens in June] are all up and running. But now comes a less familiar entrant: British shoe brand Irregular Choice. As part of its international expansion the quirky label brings its "fearless and fun styles" to Hong Kong. The launch is part of a year-long campaign to open additional stores in Europe [Paris] and the U.S. The 12-year-old brand set up by Dan Sullivan - a former Everlast and Katharine Hamnett designer - is not one to fit with trends but tries to break convention. And where the brands above summon the collective spirit, Irregular Choice appeals to stylish individuals.
The 1,000 sq ft boutique in Hong Kong's lively Causeway Bay district will carry Irregular Choice's main range, exclusives like the Wedding and Mutiny collections, and the brand's sister label, Poetic License. The high-end 'Dan Sullivan collection' will also feature for Summer 2012. "Hong Kong is a vibrant city with a great energy and personality. The new store will change the role shoes can play in helping Hong Kong people express themselves through fashion. Irregular Choice can hopefully give people more options to have fun with their look," says Sullivan. He's not kidding. His designs aren't conservative and to some women may even be intimidating. After all, not every fashionista can pull off a battery-powered plexi-glass heel that lights up with each step - but a modern-day aspirational CInderella might. Sullivan's shoe model names are as distinct as his designs, to boot: Flamboyant Vampire, Fresh Cut Grass, Peaches and Scream, OH Matron and Alien Farmer.
The store's decor is signature - think eccentric - Sullivan too: black and white harlequin tiles, mermaid print flooring, black pom pom trims and white chesterfield quilted ceilings, creating a vibrant retail experience that's designed to keep you coming back for more. Certainly Sullivan's shoes will be an alternative offering in Hong Kong's foot-fancy retail scene. Or as the brand's tagline has it: irregular by name, irregular by nature. Your choice.
International galleries continue to proliferate and produce in the heat of Hong Kong's art world and the scorching gavels of its auction rooms; riding the wave of London gallery White Cube's Hong Kong launch with a Gilbert & George exhibit in March, and Damien Hirst's global spot painting tour which began at Hong Kong's Gagosian Gallery in January, niche player Edouard Malingue Gallery today launches Future Archeology, a selection of the work of contemporary French artist Laurent Grasso.
Edouard Malingue Gallery made a splashy entrance to the Hong Kong market in 2010 with the largest Picasso exhibition mounted in the city, comprising 40 original works on canvas and paper. Malingue followed up with Chinese artist Zhang Huan's first solo show in the city, which included the monumental sculpture Three Heads Six Arms. The gallery's no aesthetic slouch either, designed by OMA Asia (Hong Kong), headed by influential architect Rem Koolhaas, whose now working on a new Prada Foundation in Milan.
Grasso's no Picasso, but is quietly brand building. He won the prestigious Marcel Duchamp Prize in 2008 and held a series of notable shows in Europe: The Horn Perspective at Paris's Centre Pompidou and Gakona at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris in 2009, as well as Portrait of a Young Man at Miami's Bass Museum of Art, in 2011. Grasso borrows imagery from cinema, art history, sculpture and painting, chronologically referencing the Italian Renaissance and 17th-century essays as much as the present day. He investigates machines and systems that mediate the modern era, and uses these mechanisms to create surreal and ambiguous juxtapositions of time and space. He says of his own cross-pollinated, cut-and-pasted cultural output: "the idea is to construct a floating viewpoint, thereby creating a discrepancy in relation to reality. We move from one viewpoint to another, and that's also how we manufacture states of consciousness."
In addition to the Edouard Malingue Gallery exhibition, the 40-year-old Grasso will distort and enhance reality by installing Anechoic Pavilion [pictured], a one-room meditation and observation chamber of laminated wood and glass, on the roof of Central Pier 4, facing Victoria Harbour. The cabin allows visitors to experience a unique sensation of inner exploration - taking them from the dynamic tall, small Hong Kong cityscape to the margins of reality and fiction in the Pavilion. Thereby proving the maxim: the Grasso is always Greener on the Anechoic side.
April 26 - June 16, 2012: Edouard Malingue Gallery, First Floor, 8 Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong
Image: ©Laurent Grasso, ADAGP, Paris 2012
Still basking in the glow of its record-breaking US$183.5 million sale of the complete jewel Collection of Elizabeth Taylor earlier this year, auction house Christie's follows up with Jewels From an American Heiress, a selection of Art Deco pieces gleaned from the estate of the last great heiress of America’s gilded age, Huguette M. Clark. The pieces go on show in Hong Kong on March 22 and 23.
Clark’s name isn't household, and unlike the coterie of industrial wives in Art-Deco New York of the 1910’s and 20’s – Daisy Fellowes [heiress to the Singer sewing machine fortune], “poor little rich girl” Barbara Woolworth Hutton [daughter of the Woolworth five-and-dime stores founder Frank Woolworth], Marjorie Merriweather Post, [heiress to the Post cereal empire and America’s richest women in 1914], and Anna Thompson Dodge [sold her late husband’s business in 1926 for US$146 million] - whose gemstones glittered along the mansions of Fifth Avenue and 35 boxes of the Metropolitan Opera House, Clark was an enigma.
She died last year at the tender age of 104, having lived in a series of New York hospitals for the last two decades of her life; not due to sickness, but because unlike so many who had come – and went – before her, Clark craved a life away from the spotlight. She spoke most of the time in French, fearing that conversations in English would likely be overheard and acted upon by those wishing to subvert or exploit her wealth.
Born in Paris in 1906, Huguette Clark was the seventh and youngest child of Gilded Age industrialist William A. Clark, who at the time was one of the richest men in America, with a fortune said to rival the Rockefellers. His wealth came first from copper mining in Montana, where he became a Senator, and later grew into a diversified business empire that included railroad, banking, publishing, sugar and timber companies. Her mother, Anna Eugenia La Chapelle, an accomplished musician, was Clark's second wife. Huguette and her sister Andrée were raised in New York’s high society circles and attended Miss Spence’s School for Girls. Huguette inherited her parents’ love for fine art and music, and as an adult, she became an accomplished artist and musician in her own right. Photos from the 1920s depict the young debutante attired in Art Deco-era jewels.
After her father’s death in 1925, Ms. Clark and her mother moved from the family’s Beaux-Arts mansion in Manhattan to a limestone-clad, Italian palazzo-style residence at 907 Fifth Ave, where they maintained three apartments on the property’s eighth and 12th floors overlooking Central Park. [All three are currently on the market]. After her mother’s death in 1963, Clark lived on quietly in New York, shunning the spotlight and focusing on her art.
According to Christie’s, Clark’s jewellery collection – 17 pieces in all - has been stored in a bank vault since the 1940’s and contains Art Deco items by Cartier, Drecier & Co. and Tiffany & Co. While Christie’s estimate the collection at US$9-12 million, a modest seven percent of the late Miss Taylor’s hoard, Clark’s fortune was estimated at US$500 million last year when she died with no direct descendants and a scrum of legal advisors. Her will is still being contested, or at least, two of them are.
Christie’s has arranged public exhibitions of the collection at its sales sites in Hong Kong, Geneva and London. And a three-day public exhibition will open Saturday, April 14 at Christie’s New York, prior the official auction on April 17.
Image: A Diamond, Ruby and Sapphire American Flag Brooch, by Cartier. ©Christie's Images Limited 2012
Days of Being Wild (1990), is arguably the best Hong Kong film ever made. It cascades onto – and off - the screen in an ecstatic, urgent wave of love, loss and longing, propelled by the smoldering gorgeousness of its playboy lead Leslie Cheung, and an eye-catching array of acting talent on the cusp of their collective moment; Carina Lau, Maggie Cheung, Andy Lau, Jacky Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu-wai. Scene by ravishing scene, it watches like a greatest hits of Hong Kong cinema, as supercool Leslie cha-cha’s in front of the mirror; his dynamic exchanges with the lovely Maggie Cheung: “you’ll see me in your dreams tonight”; and the narrative nonsense but high style of the film’s cameo role closing scene: Tony Leung dressing for a night out.
Days was director Wong Kar-wai’s first film – of eight - with Australian cinematographer Christopher Doyle and set the blueprint for what followed: isolated souls losing and breaking hearts in solitary cityscapes lit by electric shadows, nostalgia by the neon load – like Hong Kong Edward Hopper subjects – all delicate harmonies of faded paint and period pieces, rousing Latin music scores, extended moments of cigarette-smoking silence with slow-mo for character development; style over substance, feel over reason. You want to rush in, to swim, or jump into Days of Being Wild it’s so sumptuous and Leslie’s presence so palpitating. “I’ll always remember that minute because of you,” Leslie tells Maggie Cheung early on as she gazes at his watch. A reminder - as if any were needed – that despite Leslie’s death nine years ago, there’s not a day goes by that Hong Kong doesn’t remember and revere his loss. In its raw, poetic, sensual and agonizingly beautiful telling, Days of Being Wild is 94 minutes of being made love to by Hong Kong cinema at its most glamorous and kinetic.
Days of Being Wild shows at the Hong Kong Film Archive on March 17 and Broadway Cinemathque on March 25.
Image: Leisure and Cultural Services Department, Hong Kong
German Photography 1960-2012: A Survey
Hong Kong's first taste of late-20th and early 21st-century German photography arrives via Ben Brown Fine Arts Gallery and what a bang-up bunch of talent it is: Bernd and Hilla Becher, Thomas Demand, Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Axel Hütte, Anselm Kiefer, Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth and Wolfgang Tillmans, to name a few.
The Bechers set the benchmark. Students at the seminal Düsseldorf Art Academy, they married in 1961 and became Germany’s most influential photographers. Working from a Volkswagen van, which doubled as darkroom and bedroom, the Bechers documented Germany’s industrial architecture as something to be preserved rather than destroyed and exhibited their work in grid-like rows and columns. They systemically - and dispassionately - photographed blast furnaces, water cooling towers and factories in an austere, tonally uniform way, almost always under overcast skies and had several Ruhr Valley-based structures - the art-deco Zollern coal mine at Dortmund-Bovinghausen - saved as protected landmarks.
A handful of the artists studied under the Bechers. Large-scale photo exponents Höfer and Struth, she of depopulated libraries, auditoriums and research centres, and he of streetscapes, religious structures and family portraits. [Struth was commissioned last year by London’s National Portrait Gallery to shoot Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh]. Hütte, who at one time rented studio space in a disused power station with Gursky and Ruff, is a landscape painter and nighttime photographer whose eye for clarity and precision is as pronounced as his lack of photographic effects. By contrast, Gursky’s work features digitally manipulated, often panoramic photographs of large anonymous spaces – office lobbies, desolate landscapes - where the same object is shot from multiple angles. [Gursky’s Rhein II, 1999, is the most expensive photograph – US$4.3 million - ever sold at auction]. Ruff likes it smooth and doesn’t believe in capturing reality so much as creating a picture or an abstract photograph with images appropriated from magazines, the Internet, or scientific sources.
The non-Becher group is formidable: Thomas Demand, darling of the contemporary aesthetic set, makes architectural 3-D models and builds them on sites of political and societal impact – the Oval Office of the White House, the tunnel in which Princess Diana had her fatal accident – then photographs them. He often collaborates with British architectural practice Caruso St John. Tillmans is the only photographer to win the Turner Prize (2000) and is considered a documentarian of the London club-and-gay scene in the early 1990's before his work evolved with a more abstract and political focus: "When I was growing up, all the art that touched me was lens-generated, like Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke," he has said. Richter and Polke have tried and tested just about every image photographic and painted permutation during the 20th century and have been described by New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl as “the leading painters of our day”. Richter's Abstraktes Bild (7938-3) sold for US$21.6 million in March, a record for the artist. [Richter's 1994 Abstraktes Bild (809-4) sold at auction in London for US$34.2 million on October 13, 2012, the highest price paid at auction for the work of a living artist]. This series of abstract paintings are often called "masterpieces of calculated chaos". Knoebel has been playing with colour’s possibilities for 30 years and renders paper cut collages not unlike Henri Matisse. And then there’s Anselm Kiefer: big art, dark political themes, even bigger symbolism, pro-art, a world away from what he calls Damien Hirst’s "anti-art", he the enhancer, Hirst the entertainer, he underground, Hirst overblown. Go survey some old-and-new-school stimulation and reconsider what art historian E.H. Gombrich termed the "unhappy cleavage between commercial art and pure art."(benbrownfinearts.com)
Until May 5, 2012. 301 Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central Hong Kong
Image: Bernd and Hilla Becher, Fachwerkhauser des Siegener Industriegebietes, 1965, Photo collage. Courtesy of Ben Brown Fine Arts
Two young Asians to watch at Mission Hills World Ladies Championship
A clutch of leading lady golfers will grace this week’s inaugural World Ladies Championship (WLC) at Mission Hills Hainan Course from March 2 to 4. The US$600,000 event is designed to support golf's development - in China and the world - ahead of the sport’s return to the Olympics in 2016. Despite the presence of notables such as England’s Melissa Reid [who finished second on the Ladies European Tour money list last year] and South African Lee-Anne Pace [who finished top of the LET’s order of merit in 2010], most attention will fall on two Asian headliners: Chinese game-changer Shanshan Feng [pictured] from the LPGA Tour and 14-year-old Korean amateur sensation Lydia Ko.
Beijing-born, Florida-based Feng sports a well-decorated amateur career comprising nine wins in China, on route to becoming the first Chinese woman to gain entry on the LPGA tour in 2008. Although still to win an LPGA title, she surpassed US$1.2 million in career earnings at last weekend’s HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore where she tied joint-second after a four-way play-off. Despite her stellar success, the flamboyant Feng is still only 22 years old. No less precocious is Korea-born, New Zealand-based Lydia Ko, who last month became the youngest-ever winner of a professional tournament with a four-shot victory at Australia’s New South Wales Open. Ko - who cites 22-year-old Korean Michelle Wie as the golfer she most admires - will compete in the Individual Amateur competition at Mission Hills as one of eight elite amateurs in the field. "I think getting amateurs to play with professionals is only going to be good for the game," she enthuses. Whatever the outcome at Mission Hills, the future of the women’s game in the hands of dynamic young pretenders like Feng and Ko looks not only Olympic, but increasingly Asian. (worldladieschampionship.missionhillschina.com/index_en.html)
As Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee year celebrations get underway, a series of exhibitions devoted to portraits of the sovereign during the last 60 years opens in the UK. ISBN selects a handful that illustrate the diversity of imagery Her Majesty's iconic reign - and style - has inspired.
CityU’s Gallery 360 makes cutting-edge debut
City University of Hong Kong (CityU) today [February 4] opens Gallery 360, a technological advances gallery featuring the groundbreaking visualisation techniques of the AVIE 360 degree 3D cinema, at the Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre (CMC). Opened last October, the centre was designed by award-winning American architect Daniel Libeskind.
Gallery 360 builds on AVIE (Advanced Visualization and Interaction Environment), a unique 360-degree immersive 3D projection experience first developed by Professor Jeffrey Shaw at the UNSW iCinema Research Centre in Sydney, Australia, and is now incorporated into the research programme of the CityU Applied Laboratory for Interactive Visualization and Embodiment (ALiVE).
The opening exhibition showcases the Asian premiere of There Is Still Time..Brother, a panoramic interactive ‘war’ film made by New York’s Wooster Group theatre company. Taking participation between viewer and cinema to new levels, an audience member controls the projection window that only reveals a portion of the Wooster Group’s densely constructed 360° panoramic film.
Gallery 360 will host a number of unique events in coming months. In March, there will be an exhibition featuring the research project by (ALiVE). Heaven on Earth: Inside the Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang immerses visitors in the quintessential heritage of its Buddhist temples, an art treasury abounding with murals, statues and architectural monuments. Other internationally recognised fine artists like Miao Xiaochun (China) and Jean Michel Bruyère (France) will feature in April and May. The exhibitions are open to the public for free. For more information, visit www.cityu.edu.hk/cmc.
Exhibition to tour Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Tokyo throughout 2012/14
“In the future everybody will be world-famous for fifteen minutes” Andy Warhol.
New York-based global financial services firm BNY Mellon will bring the largest retrospective exhibition of Andy Warhol’s work to Asia in 2012/14, to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of the acclaimed American multimediartist and Pop Art phenom.
Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal - curated by The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh - will travel to five Asian cities over 27 months debuting at ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, from March 17-August 12, 2012. It then tours Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing through 2013 and concludes in Tokyo the following year. 2012 also marks the 30th anniversary of Warhol’s trip to China and Hong Kong.
Andrew Warhola (August 1928 – February 1987), known as Andy Warhol, was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as Pop Art. 15 Minutes features a Poptravaganza of over 300 paintings, photographs, screen prints, drawings, 3-D installations and sculptures, charting his career from the 1940’s to the 80’s. Iconic works include Jackie (1964), Marilyn Monroe (1967), Mao (1972), Campbell’s Soup (1961), Silver Liz (1963), The Last Supper (1986), and Self-Portrait (1986). The exhibition also includes lesser-known artworks like his Blotted Drawings from the early 1950’s.
“Fascinated by the glitterati, Warhol remains a complex and often misunderstood persona, whose artwork depicting consumer objects such as Heinz ketchup boxes, and paintings of Marilyn Monroe and Mao Tse-Tung have been imprinted into our collective consciousness,” says Eric Shiner, director of The Andy Warhol Museum. “We are thrilled that BNY Mellon is bringing the life, work and creative genius of Andy Warhol to cities across Asia. This collection celebrates anew someone whose life and work define the concept: fame is fleeting, art is eternal.”
Additional corporate supporting sponsors of the exhibition include auction house Christie’s, no doubt hoping 15 Minutes entry to Shanghai and Beijing next year can serve as a foot in the door for longer-term interests in China. “Broadening the audience for art and presenting many of the world’s greatest works to the public is a tradition that Christie’s has maintained since 1766,” says Christie’s Asia President Francois Curiel: “Over the next two years, we are delighted to support and celebrate this extraordinary exhibition of Andy Warhol’s works in Asia.”
As Warhol might have said: “Oh, but that’s 1,051, 200 minutes.”
Images: © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
The film shows at the Hong Kong Film Archive Cinema on February 5th at 2:30pm, and local critic Bryan Chang will host a post-screening talk in Cantonese.
Contempt (Le Mépris)
Dir/ Scr: Jean-Luc Godard
Orig Story: Alberto Moravia
Cast: Brigitte Bardot, Michel Piccoli, Jack Palance,
Pho: Raoul Coutard
Eds : Agnès Guillemot, Lila Lakshmanan
Music: Georges Delerue
1963 / Colour / 35mm / French & English / Eng Subtitles / 110min
Having screened François Truffaut’s Day For Night (1973) in early January, Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA)’s “Restored Treasures” will show Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt.
Action: Camille [Brigitte Bardot] lies nude, face down on a bed. Paul [Michel Piccoli] slouches beside her dressed. “Do you like my feet?” she asks. “And my ankles?” Paul approves. “And how about my shoulders?” The colour filter changes from white to red and from white to blue as the camera tracks Camille’s ravishing body like a scanner. Paul answers yes to the inventory of her booty, then tells her: “I love you totally, tenderly, tragically.” It’s a nude scene with no sex, and doesn’t appear to bask in post-conjugal glow despite Camille’s aura.
Le Mepris  - Contempt - is a stately film full of unexpected surprises. It might be seen as a lavish commercial Hollywood production, but director Jean-Luc Godard presents it as a lament on the inherent conflict between art and commercialism in filmmaking. Rather than promote the sex kitten Bardot was associated with, Godard subverts type and instead uses his film to portray producers as pimps and directors as their doxies. He even intellectualises Camille – she reads a book about Fritz Lang in the bath at one point (below right).
Contempt follows conflicted scriptwriter Paul, a French playwright living in Rome, [Camille is his disillusioned wife] whose been contracted to work on a film adaptation of Homer's The Odyssey. His boss is egotistical - borderline despotic - American producer Jeremy Prokosch, played by Jack Palance. Prokosch struts around the set delivering one-liners like: “whenever I hear the word culture I reach for my cheque book” and hurling film reels around the screening room when he’s displeased with the rushes. Prokosch isn’t happy with the work of his Austrian director Fritz Lang, who’s played with relish by himself.
Camille, who supported Paul’s move from stage to screen, starts to resent and then hate him. She leaves him for Prokosch, with tragic results. Paul returns to the stage and Lang is left to complete his fractured Odyssey.
Emotionally direct – part reflection on Godard’s married life – Contempt is a provocative musing on the ties between art and life. The extended central apartment scene in which Camille and Paul's relationship disintegrates is a work of art to watch. The film is rich to look at, with large expanses of deep colour and actors floating around like butterflies. Bardot's still the princess of pout, seducing the saturated landscape while Godard pours on Matisse by the ton. This is ravishing cinema.
It scorches with style too, courtesy of Godard's technical virtuosity; credits are read aloud in voice over, hand-held camera work, jump cuts, improvised acting gestures, inter-textual references, non-actors appearing in scenes. One minute it watches like documentary, the next, panoramic technicolour cinema. No matter how spontaneous or languorous, each scene exudes suggestiveness, as though something is about to happen. Such desirable displacement makes Contempt compelling and richly cool cinema.
“A simple film without a mystery, an Aristotelian film, stripped of appearance, Le Mepris proves in 149 shots that in the cinema, as in life, there is no secret, nothing to elucidate, merely the need to live- and to make films” – Jean-Luc Godard in Godard on Godard.
Images: Leisure and Cultural Services Department, Hong Kong