Hong Kong's street art & exhibitions 2015

Posted on May 10, 2015 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

mui wo smile maker

A giant pig in Mui Wo by Smile maker Hong Kong


It is interesting to see Hong Kong's street art scene evolving over the last few years (you can read my previous entry from last year here). Compare to city like London, it is still in its infancy, but it is certainly more 'happening' than other immaculate-looking neighbours in Asia.

Street art is becoming more mainstream here, and it is partly due to HK walls, an annual street art and graffiti festival. The mission of the organisation is to create opportunities for local and international artists to bring their talents to the streets of Hong Kong by transforming large exterior walls into original works of art. The event took place in March, but you can still find a lot of the art work around SoHo, Sheung Wan and the Western district of Hong Kong island.


parents parents street art rukkit street artbruce lee by xevasheung wan street artsheung wan street arthoparesheung wan street art rookie & gas street art

Top left: Parent’s Parents (HK); Top right: Rukkit (Thailand); 2nd row: Bruce Lee by Xeva (South Korea); 3rd right: Hopare (France); Bottom right: Rookie (Taiwan) & Gas (China)


soho street art sheung wan street art'Reclining Lady' by Victorianosheung wan street artsheung wan street artsheung wan street artsheung wan street art Szabotage

2nd row: 'Reclining Lady' by Victoriano (Spain); Bottom right: Szabotage (Hong Kong/UK)


I stumbled upon an alley off Tai Ping Shan Street in Sheung Wan one day, and I was quite pleasantly surprised to see an array of works by local and international street artists like Barlo (Italy/HK), Egg Fiasco (Philippines), exld (Philippines) and Jay Flow (South Korea) etc covering both sides of the walls.


sheung wan street art barlo street artexld street artEgg Fiasco sheung wan street art  Jay Flow street artsheung wan street art

Top right: Barlo; 2nd row: exld, 3rd left: Egg Fiasco; 4th row: Jay Flow (South Korea)


Aside from the streets, art galleries are now seeing the value of works by street artists (thanks largely to Banksy). A solo exhibition of the notorious American street artist Alec Monopoly was presented 'Capital Games' at Above Second gallery in March/April. Monopoly is best known for his tuxedoed and top-hatted graffiti character of Uncle Pennybags, an idea originally inspired by the stockbroker Bernie Madoff. It is both apt and ironic to see his works (a critique of the capitalist greed) on the streets of a financial centre like Hong Kong. And aside from Uncle Pennybags, childhood mascots like Richie Rich and Scrooge McDuck were also featured at the exhibition. I was informed by the gallery assistant that his works sold exceedingly well, and many of the buyers were locals who seem to appreciate his playful and yet critical style.


Alec MonopolyAlec Monopoly exhibition at Above second galleryKing of kowloon calligraphy King of Kowloon calligraphy

Top row: Alec Monopoly's street art; 2nd row: Alec Monopoly's solo exhibition at Above Second gallery; Bottom: The 'original' Hong Kong street artist King of Kowloon's calligraphy work at Lightstage


At the Lightstage Art & Events Space in March/April, the Google Cultural Institute dedicated an exhibition to Hong Kong's cultural icon King of Kowloon (Tsang Tsou-choi), who painted over 55,000 street ‘calligraffiti’ works during his lifetime on the streets of Kowloon. Misunderstood and dismissed by the public and local authority during his lifetime, Tsang's work is finally being recognised worldwide and it is fantastic to see Google's online virtual museum paying tribute to this 'urban poet'.


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Top & second rows: Invader's 'Wipe out' exhibition at PMQ; Bottom two rows: New works by Invader


One of the most talked-about exhibitions in May was famous French street artist Invader's "Wipe out" exhibition at PMQ. Invited as a guest of the French consulate and as part of Le French May, the exhibition was a response to the Hong Kong authorities' efficient removal of his pixelated mosaic works in 2014. Somehow dismayed by this undertaking, the street artist not only gave  the exhibition a pertinent title, he (a guess after watching the work-in-progress videos at the exhibition) 'invaded' the city again.

What is so compelling about the street art phenomenon is the dialogues between every city's authorities and the artists. What are the boundaries? Are the works vandalism or acts of defiance towards the authorities? Artists in the past have often challenged the authorities and expressed their opinions through art, the only difference now is that they are doing it outdoor instead. This is why I think the global street art scene is much more exciting than traditional art scene at the moment.


This post was posted in Hong Kong, Travel, Street art & graffiti and was tagged with Hong Kong, graffiti/ street art, Invader