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Hong Kong seen from a perspective of art and culture

Hong Kong – The second story

A city with a myriad of faces.

Hong Kong seen from a perspective of art and culture

As you travel, you become familiar with an image and colour unique to a particular nation. How about Hong Kong? The main things that symbolise Hong Kong are shopping and the night view. However, Hong Kong has too many charms  for just these two terms to depict it fully.

In the past, the Hong Kong film industry swayed the world. The industry’s influence was so great that there was the “Hong Kong film syndrome”, and we can never forget the memories of those times. Even though those times have passed, the art and culture industry of Hong Kong continues to change and still draws attention from the world by means of its different features. Let’s meet a new face of Hong Kong, which is rapidly surfacing as the 3rd major art market in the world, after New York and London.

Let’s get into the various fascinations of Hong Kong!

When you come to know more about “art” and “culture,” they become more interesting, and so does the city of Hong Kong. You will be fascinated by new and different colours every time you visit Hong Kong, on which fashions and technologies of the world as well as the cultures of Europe and Aisa converge.

In Hong Kong, you will never feel strange when you are faced with skyscrapers while walking along old alleys remaining as they were in the past. In what form does the art and culture of this city come to us?

Western Market

The external facade of red bricks is hard to find on Hong Kong’s streets, which are filled with a variety of neon signs and signboards. Seeing a tram going by, you might feel as if you were in a small village in Europe. This market was constructed in 1960 and is the oldest in Hong Kong. It used to sell groceries in the past, but now it is designated as a cultural asset, in which a museum and small shops are housed. Let’s begin travelling through the exotic atmosphere of Hong Kong.

Hollywood Road

This road connects Sheung Wan, which preserves old aspects of Hong Kong, to Central, which is a world-class financial district. It is the border between SOHO: South of Hollywood Road and NOHO: North of Hollywood Road.

It was called “Holly Wood Road” in the early part of the 19th century because it was surrounded by a thick forest of holly bushes, and its current name evolved since then. You may be disappointed when comparing it to Hollywood in America, but it is no less a centre of culture in Hong Kong than the other Hollywood.

100 years ago, the best commercial district in Hong Kong was not Central, but Sheung Wan. Not only a harbour, but also markets and antique streets represented by Hollywood Road were constructed at that time. These streets are similar to Insa-dong in Korea, filled with ancient furniture, ceramic ware and Oriental paintings.

The streets even led to “ManMo Temple” which is the oldest of its kind in Hong Kong and to “Upper Lascar Row.” “Upper Lascar Row” is also called “Cat Street”, which is known for its Hong Kong-style flea market. “Cat Street” is a nickname that originated from the Chinese expression in which a thief was compared to a rat and a dealer in stolen goods to a cat.

Tip. Artistic and/or cultural events held in Hong Kong

  1. HKAF (Hong Kong Arts Festival)

The largest artistic and cultural event, which has been held in Hong Kong since 1973. It has changed Hong Kong from a land barren of culture into a cultural centre. Music and performances from all around the world are displayed. You can also enjoy art displays and exhibitions.

  1. Art Basel in Hong Kong

Since 2013, the Art Fair annually held in Basel, Switzerland, has also been held in Hong Kong. This event, which lasts for 4 days, will be held in March from this year onwards.

The antique street represents Hollywood Road, but it is in fact part of the road. While the antique street is comparable to Insa-dong in Korea, those streets leading to Central may be compared to Samcheong-dong. The small galleries strewn along the street possess a modern astmosphere.

Hong Kong is famous as a commercial city, but recently days it is rapidly surfacing as a centre of modern art in both Asia and the rest of the world. As an exhibition is being planned to show emerging art trends, you will be able to vividly appreciate modern art and culture.

Hillside Escalators

The 800m-long outdoor escalator system is the longest in the world. It is also called the “Mid-levels Escalator”, which is a more familiar name than “Hill Side”. It was built for the sake of mid-level residents, but it has been considered a symbol of romance ever since the film Chungking Express was released.

You may be reluctant to ride on an 800m long escalator, but you don’t need to worry because there are plenty of opportunities to get off, as it is divided into 12 sections. It often seems like it is ending, but it connects downtown Central to mid-level residential areas via Soho.

It runs downwards till 10am for residents who go to work, and upwaRoads from 10:30 am. You may go up to the top and then come down slowly, looking around into each corner, or get off midway and fully enjoy the atmosphere of the street as you please.

Can you find any other more attractive place than this on the border between reality and art, where a public transpotation system becomes a picture representing Soho through films?

Agricultural Bank of China Tower

It is called 50 Connaught Road Central or the Agricultural Bank of China Tower since the bank is located inside the building. The building escapes public recognition and may be ignored by passers-by but it should never be missed if you desire to look into the art of Hong Kong, because it accommodates world-class galleries.

The UK-based White Cube attained renown when it curated works by such famous artists as Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.  White Cube gained a foothold  in the Asian market through setting up a branch in Hong Kong. The prowess of Hong Kong as a world-class art city is secured by the fact that it was chosen by White Cube, a world-renowned gallery.

Global and avant-garde star artists’ works are on display in the France-based Galerie Perrotin, located on the 17th floor of the building, which is among the “50 most influential galleries in the world.”

Galerie Perrotin is located so high that it commands a view of the whole harbour, and it is not possible to see it all in one day.

 

Pedder Building

Another building stands among a thick forest of buildings at Central in the middle of Hong Kong. The neo-classical Pedder Building, that somehow does not seems to quite fit with Hong Kong style, is called a “gallery building” as it houses art galleries on almost every floor. You can fully understand the trends of modern art when you go through the exhibits in both the Agricultural Bank of China Tower and the Pedder Building.

If you are fascinated by archaic appearances and advance directly towards the large gate in front of you, you will unexpectedly enter into a shop. The elevator leading to the gallery can be found behind a small door.

Ben Brown Fine Arts and the Simon Lee Gallery from the UK are housed on the 3rd floor, and Hanart TZ Gallery from Hong Kong on the 4th floor. Ben Brown is praised as a high-end gallery, which has introduced the works of internationally active artists to Asia, including some works sold at Sotheby’s Fine Art Auctions. In particular, it specialises in Italian art and has invited numerous Italian artists into the fine art market.

Hanart TZ Gallery exhibits the works of pure painters from China and Taiwan, as well as Hong Kong. Its hisory and tradition can be traced back to 1983, when it was initally opened to display Chinese colours and future moods.

Lehmann Maupin from America has also joined the trends of modern art in Hong Kong. It is a gallery built by Rachel Lehmann from Switzerland and David Maupin from New York, and it displays so many works that it is counted among the top 10 galleries worldwide.

Pearl Lam, a gallery from Hong Kong located on the 6th floor focusing on Oriental art, is also one of most influential galleries in the fine art world. Its position has been firmly established in Asia since it has branches in Shanghai and Singapore as well as its main gallery in Hong Kong.

On the 7th floor, the America-based Gagosian Gallery is located. Larry Gagosian, a world-renowned art dealer, operates this place, which is considered the most influential gallery in the world. In Hong Kong, Gagosian set up the first branch in Asia, after having established more than 16 galleries in New York, London and other cities around the globe. He has invited practicing artists who take pride in the high value of their works and leads the trend in the world of fine arts. The term “the Gagosian effect” has emerged since the brand value of artists having hosted an exhibition at this place rapidly increases.

Fringe Club

As you walk along Wyndham Street on Queen’s Road, you will see a low building which has a stripe-patterned appearance around the end of the hill. It looks like this because it was used as a refrigerating warehouse at a time when refrigerators were not as common as today. Being small in scale, it is operated as an exhibition space for performance art making the utmost effort to advertise Hong Kong’s local artists and cultural assets.

Tip. Duddell Street Steps & Gas Lamps

There are curious stone steps at the end of Central Duddell Street. They may be ignored but you can look into old aspects of Hong Kong in this place. The steps start from the only four gas lamps remaining today in Hong Kong. They are still lit to represent the historical memories of Hong Kong and they will look more ancient when you see them after sunset. A romantic ambience is added to by a Starbucks concept shop standing in the middle of the steps which reproduces a Hong Kong style teahouse of the 1960s.

Countless tall buildings contribute to the most famous and beautiful night view of Central. If you do not see them in person, you cannot imagine the skyline formed by the heights and shapes of the futuristic skyscrapers.

The Hong Kong government eagerly invites world-class architects, and it does not authorise the construction of buildings whose design is too common. When you look up at the sky while standing among them, you can easily feel the imposing features of the skyscrapers which fill Central.

Tip. Architecture Walk

In the Kowloon Visitor Centre of Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry Pier, you can apply for the Architecture Walk which is run by the Hong Kong Tourism Board. The tour is held every Saturday and personally guided by architects who are members of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects. A tour team is composed of up to 15 tourists and the tour route varies dependent upon the guide.

A number of buildings compete for a landmark position at Central of Hong Kong, called “the core of the Asian financial market.” The most representative competition is maintained between the head office of HSBC (Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation) and the Bank of China Tower.  The aura of the characteristic appearances of these buildings make them clearly differentiated from the others.

In addition, super-high buildings of various heights and shapes include the ICC (International Commerce Centre), which is the highest in Hong Kong, the IFC Two (International Finance Centre Two), which is the second highest, and the Lippo Centre, which is a twin building shaped like a koala.

HSBC: Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation

The product of world-renowned architect Norman Foster, it has rapidly gained popularity as a tourst attraction with the help of its unique shape and the fame of the architect. The external appearance of the building is so futuristic as to remind us of tre film Transformers, but its technological features comprise environmentally-friendly methods like an air-conditiong system utilising sea water. The lobby is designed in such a manner that it may be used as an open square towards the street and its middle is opened so that light can go throughout the building. In 1985, the 47-story building was completely constructed by assembling its modules in Hong Kong after manufacturing them in the UK.

The star of HSBC is none other than the stone lions at the square on the ground floor. The two stone lions called Stephan and Stitt, appear on the currency of Hong Kong. On their flank, the injuries, which were inflicted during World War Two, remain shown clearly. There is a difference in the shape of the mouths of the similar-looking lions. Stephan has an open mouth, but Stitt, which was produced later, has a closed mouth, meaning that it grabs money.

China Bank Tower

Designed by Ieoh Ming Pei, an architect who is no less famous than Norman Foster. What is interesting is the fact that the founder of China Bank is none other than the father of Ieoh Ming Pei. The tower looks different depending upon the viewing angle. More people regard it as the shape of a sword although it was designed to look like bamboo growing.

Moreover, scholars of geomancy agree that China Bank Tower suppresses the spirit of HSBC since the edge of the sword points toward HSBC. It may be said that the culture of Hong Kong is totally based on geomancy, since the shape of a cannon is placed on the rooftop of the HSBC building in opposition to the sword. The X-shape of the tower looks brighter at night and is the most outstanding feature of the night view in Central.

Tip. Hong Kong Park

Innumerable skyrocketing buildings, whose height is unlimited, stand on the narrow soil of Hong Kong. However, parks of various sizes scattered around are more contributory to taking a rest in leisurely surroundings.

Hong Kong Park in Central, located in the middle of such skyscrapers symbolizing Hong Kong as China Bank, HSBC, and the Lippo Centre, shows what is truly “an oasis at the centre of a city.”

You may see newly-weds taking pictures since there is a marriage registration office in the park. You should move to the terraces in front of the botanic gardens if you desire to see a night view of the skyscrapers surrounding the park from a different perspective.

PAGE ONE

A bookstore specialising in art and design, which is loved by those who are interested in construction and/or design. Visitors can enjoy a more calm ambience than imagined within the Harbour City shopping centre, which is always crowded with lots and lots of people. A design shop of considerable scale is also run in there. Visitors will be entertained just by seeing the clean and modern interior of the shop, which has been recently remodeled and relaunched.

Clock Tower

Constructed along with Kowloon Station, from which the trans-continental train started, and went trough Hong Kong, China, Russia and even to Mongolia. When a new train station was constructed in the Hongham area, Kowloon Station was demolished and only the clock tower remains. It serves as a landmark in the Tsim Sha Tsui area after it was designated a historical monument, which shows the features of Hong Kong during the age of steam. At night when the lights come on, it demonstrates a romantic atmosphere as if we rode on a time machine and went back to the past.

Hong Kong Cultural Centre

Hong Kong has the Hong Kong Cultural Centre which can be compared to the “Seoul Arts Centre” in Korea. Visitors’ attention is drawn to, first of all, the form of the centre enveloping the clock tower. Unlike the Hong Kong Museum of Art, the Hong Kong Cultural Centre has a good view but does not have any windows and so it was faced with many criticisms even at the time of its designing.

It is an established practice for visitors to watch the “Symphony of Lights”, which is a laser show, at the centre of Hong Kong, and which start at 8pm every day, from an observatory, but the steps in front of the Cultural Centre and the square are considered better seats compared to the observatory.

Hong Kong Museum of Art

The museum possesses about 15,000 artistic works including Chinese traditional fine arts and Hong Kong’s modern fine arts, paintings, calligraphy and ancient relics. The museum comprises a permanent exhibition hall and seven exhibition halls of different themes located on the ground through 3rd floors. Visitors can select and appreciate only the fields in which they are interested, or choose only free exhibition halls out fo the paid and free halls.

Seats beside the windows on the 1st through 3rd floors are hidden hot spots, from which you can look down on Victoria Harbour and the Hong Kong Island at one glance.

Tip. You are recommended to visit on Museum Day. Every Wednesday, visitors can enter major museums and art galleries in Hong Kong free of charge. Visitors can enjoy an artistic tour of Hong Kong more light-heartedly when the tour is well planned.

Avenue of Stars

The Avenue of Stars is a promenade that was constructed imitating the Walk of Fame in L.A. and whose theme is homage to the film industry in Hong Kong. Along the avenue, you can see hand prints of famous film stars from Hong Kong, including sculptures and structures related to films.

There are no special events held on the avenue, but legendary aspects of Hong Kong films will be refreshed in your mind.

How about finishing your journey while appreciating a night view of Hong Kong Island apart from the crowded downtown Hong Kong.

1 Western Market

Address: 323 Des Voeux Road Central, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Opening Times: 10am – 12 midnight

Website: http://www.westernmarket.com.hk/

2 Hollywood Road

Address: Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong

3 Hillside Escalator

Address: Mid-levels Escalator, Central, Hong Kong

Opening Times: Descending 6am – 10am , ascending 10:30am – 12 midnight

4 Agricultural Bank of China Tower

1)White Cube

Address: 50 Connaught Road, Central, Hong Kong

Opening Times: Tue-Sat 11am – 7pm

Telephone: +852 2592 2000

Website:  http://whitecube.com

2) Perrotin Gallery

Address: 17F, 50 Connaught Road, Central, Hong Kong

Opening Times: Tue-Sat 11am – 7pm

Telephone: +852 3758 2180

Website: https://www.perrotin.com

5 Pedder Building

1) Ben Brown Fine Art Gallery

Address: 301, Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong

Opening Times: Tue-Sat 11am – 7pm

Telephone: +852 2522 9600

Website: www.benbrownfinearts.com

2) Simon Lee Gallery

Address: 304, Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong

Opening Times: Tue-Sat 11am – 7pm

Telephone: +852 2801 6252

Website: http://www.simonleegallery.com/

3) Hanart TZ Gallery

Address: 401, Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong

Opening Times: Tue-Sat 11am – 7pm

Telephone: +852 2526 9019

Website: www.hanart.com

4) Lehmann Maupin Gallery

Address: 407, Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong

Opening Times: Tue-Fri 10am – 7pm, Sat 11am – 5pm

Telephone: +852 2530 0025

Website: http://www.lehmannmaupin.com

5) Pearl Lam Galleries

Address: 601-605, Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong

Telephone: +852 2522 1428

Website: http://www.pearllam.com/

6) Gagosian Gallery

Address: 7F, Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong

Opening Times: Tue-Sat 11am – 7pm

Telephone: +852 2151 0555

Website: http://www.gagosian.com/

6 Fringe Club

Address:  2 Lower Albert Road, Central, Hong Kong

Telephone: +852 2521 7251

Website: http://www.hkfringeclub.com/

7 Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation

Address: 1 Queen’s Road, Central, Hong Kong

Opening Times: Mon-Fri 9am – 6pm

Telephone: +852 2748 8288

Website: http://www.hsbc.com.hk/

8 Bank of China Tower

Address: 1 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong

Opening Times: Mon-Fri 9am – 5pm, Sat 9am – 12:30pm

Telephone: +852 3988 2388

Website: http://www.bochk.com/

9 PAGE ONE

Address: Shop 3002, Harbour City, Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon

Opening Times: Mon-Sat 9am – 10pm, Sun 9am – 8pm

Telephone: +852 2730 6080

Website: http://www.pageonegroup.com/

10 Clock Tower

Address: Star Ferry pier, Kowloon Point, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon

Website: www.amo.gov.hk

11 Hong Kong Cultural Centre

Address: 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon

Opening Times: 9am – 11pm

Telephone: +852 2734 2009

Website: http://www.hkculturalcentre.gov.hk/

12 Hong Kong Museum of Art

Address: 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon

Opening Times: Mon-Wed&Fri 10am – 6pm, Sat 10am – 8pm

Telephone: +852 2721 0116

Website: http://www.hk.art.museum/

13 Avenue of Stars

Address: 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon

Website: http://www.avenueofstars.com.hk