Asia society Hong Kong Centre

Posted on May 29, 2012 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

A Buddha head sculpture by Zhang Huan on the rooftop


The new non-profit Asia Society Hong Kong Centre opened in February this year on a hill above several 5-star hotels and a large shopping mall in Admiralty. Located at the former Explosives Magazine Compound built by the British Army in the mid-19th century, three of the buildings on the site were classified as Grade 1 historical structures.

New York based architects, Tod Williams Billie Tsien architects were chosen as part of a competition in 2001 to restore the compound, aiming to blend the old with the new while preserving the lush surrounding as much as possible. Now the completed site is comprised of galleries, theatre, café, shop, office and a roof garden.

Since I became more interested in Buddhism, I have been attending more events related to Buddhist Art esp. at the British Museum, including one by Antony Gormley. However, as it is a complex subject, I can say that my knowledge on it is still very shallow. After my visit to the Sukhothai historical park in Thailand, I was eager to find out more, and so I took the opportunity and attended a free public talk at the centre on Asian Buddhist Art by Dr. Gauri Krishnan (from the Indian Heritage Centre in Singapore), which was part of the events related to the current exhibition, "Transforming Minds: Buddhism in Art".



The exhibition showcases Buddhist works from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection along with contemporary works by leading Asian artists. Although the collection/ exhibition is relatively small, the works have been carefully arranged and curated, again, emphasizing on blending the new with the old in a harmonious manner.

For me, the work that stood out was the late Thai artist, Montien Boonma's Lotus sound (1992), composed of 473 black terra-cotta bells arranged in a semi-circular position with gold-leaved lotus petals suspended above. Montien was one of the most celebrated conceptual artists in the Thai contemporary art scene, but tragically lost his battle to cancer in 2000 at the age of 47.



I love Colonial-style architecture, while many were demolished and made way to endless 'modern' high rises in Hong Kong, it was a bit of a relief to finally see some progress in the conservation and regeneration of these heritage buildings. Walking around the site, it was almost hard to believe that I was in Hong Kong, as it is often hard to find a 'breathing space' here, so this site feels like an oasis in the middle of a hectic city.



"Transforming Minds: Buddhism in Art" exhibition has been extended until the 22nd July, 2012.




This post was posted in Hong Kong, Exhibitions, Architecture, Travel, Buddhism & meditation, Art, Contemporary and was tagged with Hong Kong, art and design exhibitions, Buddhism, contemporary architecture