Shortlist: Hong Kong

Oscar Ho, curator and educator
何慶基, 策展人及教育家
May 2012

Overview 中文版本

Shortlist: Hong Kong is a guide to introduce the development of contemporary art in Hong Kong based on selected material from the AAA’s collection. However, while AAA has built a substantial collection of over 7,000 related items, it is difficult to get an overall view of the subject by means of existing publications, since writing on the general history of Hong Kong art has been scarce. Much research still needs to be conducted in order to configure a picture of Hong Kong’s art historical development. For now, with this limitation in mind, three types of material – general reviews, exhibition catalogues, and medium-specific studies – are listed to provide a starting point to approach the subject.

Selected material with a general approach to Hong Kong art, focusing on different time periods, is grouped under ‘General Reviews’. The book Modern Art in Hong Kong, an early attempt to write Hong Kong’s art history, traces the development from 18th century’s China trade painting to the early 1980s. The video recording of the talk ‘Snapshots of Hong Kong Art History’ gives a brief overview of Hong Kong art with a focus on the period from the 1950s to the 1980s. Art & Place is a collection of essays by David Clarke written from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. Four other titles – Hong Kong Art Review, Hong Kong Art: Culture and Decolonization, Someone Else’s Story – Our Footnotes, and Through the Transition and Over the Millennium – feature mainly the 1990s, before and after the handover from British to Chinese sovereignty. Topography (published in 2011) and Hong Kong Artists / 20 Portraits (published in 2012) attempt to map the local artistic landscape by introducing some recent key contemporary art institutions and young artists in Hong Kong respectively.   

Exhibition catalogues offer another way to look at the chronological development of Hong Kong art. Catalogues about the 1970s to the 1990s were selected either because of their nature as surveys or because of the historical significance of exhibitions. Highlights of the latter include ‘Out of Context’, a self-organised exhibition declaring the rise of a new wave of art held over a weekend at an old mansion in 1987. Another landmark exhibition that attempted to declare a new era of contemporary art is ‘Turn of a Decade’ organised by Hong Kong Arts Centre in 1989. Under severe criticism, Hong Kong Museum of Art for the first time presented an exhibition of local contemporary art entitled ‘City Vibrance’ in 1992. Catalogues of these exhibitions could serve as sources for understanding the dramatic transitional period from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. Two other exhibitions - ‘Contemporary Photography from Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan’ (1994) and ‘Art & Space: From Sculpture to Installation’ (1996) featured specific media. The former attempted to put Hong Kong within the larger context of the development of contemporary photography in Mainland China and Taiwan. The latter, which offered the campus at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology for artists to create site-specific installations, was a direct response to the growth of installation art during the 1990s. Another exhibition, entitled ‘Hong Kong Sixties: Designing Identity’ (1995), reflects concerns about constructing a local self-identity. In the 2000s, the catalogues listed are chosen merely as examples to illustrate new trends of the decade rather than highlighting individual exhibitions. Several other publications focus on specific art media and they are listed under ‘Medium-specific Studies’.

It should be emphasised that the recommended material provides only a starting point for research. Given the inadequacy of general art historical writings, users are recommended to try out other sources to get an overview of contemporary art in Hong Kong. One channel could be through material on individual artists and organisations. To begin with, users can refer to the second part of this article which is a sketch of Hong Kong contemporary art from my personal observation. Key individuals and organisations are hyperlinked to AAA’s online catalogue where users will find information on a handful of related material. For advanced users, Hong Kong Art: A Bibliographic Guide, Art in Hong Kong: A Chronological Guide to Exhibitions (1985-2001), and Hong Kong Visual Arts Yearbook are useful resources for further research which are not included in this introductory guide. 

The Contemporary Art of Hong Kong: A Sketch

One may say that the New Ink Movement, which emerged in the 1960s, was the first self-consciously ‘modern’ movement of Hong Kong Art. Led by Lui Shou Kwan, this group of artists believed in the progressive development of art and the mission of ‘modernising’ Chinese art by bringing in Western elements. It is worth mentioning that during this period there were artists such as Kam Ka Lun, Kwong Yeu Ting, Hon Chi Fun, and Gaylord Chan who were already involved with abstract painting which was stylistically close to the Abstraction and Pop art of the West.

When this movement was replaced by a new generation of Hong Kong artists in the late 1970s, the ‘contemporary art’ of Hong Kong emerged. Artists like Choi Yan Chi, Kwok Mang Ho and photographer Leong Ka Tai were active members of this new development, whose work is in line with global art languages and new art forms (such as installation and action art) of their time. They represent the locally born ‘baby boom generation’ of the 1950s who have little identification with China, and are strongly influenced by Western culture.

It was in the 1980s when the contemporary art scene took on a solid form, with the return of a team of ‘post-50s’ artists from the West, including Antonio Mak, Yank Wong, Wong Wo Bik, and Josh Hon. Because of the difference in their backgrounds, their artistic styles were dramatically diversified. Without any Chinese ‘baggage’, these artists were more willing to embrace the artistic language of Western art and its experimental approaches.

It is important to note that the development of contemporary art during this period is a multi-faceted one. There are also artists such as Luis Chan who moved into a distinctive path of surrealist landscape, Chu Hing Wah who developed a distinctive form of ink painting, Wong Cheung who practiced Photo-realism, Ricky Yeung, a self-taught artist whose raw and expressive treatment of sex and violence was unique within the local art scene, and Ellen Pau, a co-founder of Videotage (which began in 1986) and an important figure in nurturing the development of video art in Hong Kong. By the late 1980s, artists who emigrated from the Mainland such as Yeung Tong Lung, Wang Hai, and Wong Shun Kit were making significant contributions to the art scene.

Between the late 1980s and early 1990s, there were several significant exhibitions which marked the rise of contemporary art in Hong Kong. They have been mentioned in the first part of this article. 

In the 1990s, another generation of artists emerged. Most of them were locally trained. Some of them furthered their studies overseas, such as Fiona Wong, Ho Siu Kee, Chan Yuk Keung, Warren Leung, Kith Tsang, and other younger artists such as Leung Po Shan, Phoebe Man, and So Yan Kei.

At a time when Hong Kong people suffered from the anxiety of unification with China as well as the post-1989 trauma, political references and the quest for a Hong Kong identity were common topics in the arts. Capturing the political and psychological turbulence of the transitional period, the development of photography was particularly outstanding. Examples of active photographers during this period are Vincent Yu, Ken Wong, and Almond Chu.

The 1990s was an unusually energetic period in both art making and art criticism. Apart from photography, another prominent development was the growth of installation art which replaced sculpture as the most noticeable form of three-dimensional expression. Independent art spaces also emerged after the mid-1990s, including Para/Site Art Space, 1a space and the Artist Commune. Once situated at Oil Street artist village, 1a space and Artist Commune later moved to Cattle Depot.

Since 1997, the economic downfall, SARs, the rise of China, the ambiguity over identity as well as social/political discontent, has created a state of limbo and frustration. The contemporary art scene remains diversified with a growing concern about culturally negotiating with China. New, young artists such as Hung Keung, Wen Yau, and Wong Chung Yu continue to add to the dialogue.

Public platforms for contemporary art remain scarce. Grotto Fine Art is devoted to the display of local art, while certain other spaces such as Osage Gallery occasionally present local contemporary art. The economic downfall after 1997 brought down rental costs and enabled artist villages to emerge, first in Fotan and later, in Kwun Tong and Chai Wan. Strongly affected by the real estate market, the futures of these artist villages remain unstable.

With an increasing global interest in Asian art, some Hong Kong artists such as Tozer Pak, Wilson Shieh, Chow Chun Fai and Tsang Kin Wah are getting international recognition, while others such as Luke Ching, Simon Go, Wen Yau and Jaspar Lau join forces with the local community and engage in social art actions. The demolishment of the Star Ferry Pier in 2006 intensified such movements. Art and social activist groups such as Video Activist, Community Museum, SOCO, CCCD, HULU, and Wooferten attract artists to engage in art projects at a grass-root level.

While some young artists utilise their art for political causes, there are a substantial number of artists working quietly along their own paths. Without a strong market interest, Hong Kong contemporary art remains distinctive for not been dictated by the art market, and for the time being, it retains its freedom to be vocally political. It suffers, however, from a lack of direction and self-identity, and worst of all, a lack of infrastructural support.


「推介館藏:香港」是在文獻庫精選館藏的基礎上,介紹香港當代藝術發展的一份指南。文獻庫有關香港藝術的館藏現已多達7,000多項,但鑑於香港藝術通史方面的著述甚少,若想單憑現有的出版物來了解香港當代藝術的發展概況,恐怕仍有一定的難度。就此而言,我們仍須進行大量的研究探索,方能勾勒出香港的藝術史綱。鑑於這方面的限制,相關的材料現已歸納為三大類 (即「概覽」、「展覽圖錄」和「特定媒體」),聊作研究香港當代藝術的起點。

納入「概覽」一類的資料皆以總覽的方式來檢視香港藝術,並以不同的時段為焦點 Modern Art in Hong Kong 是一本撰述香港藝術史的早期著作,它追溯了香港藝術自十八世紀中國貿易畫起至1980年代的演變發展。《香港藝術史略說》座談會的錄像則以1950年代至1980年代為重點,用概括的手法來描述香港藝術史。Art & Place選錄了祈大衛從1980年代中至1990年代中的論文。至於香港藝術概覽Hong Kong Art: Culture and Decolonization他人的故事:我們的註腳從過渡跨越千禧這四本著作,則重點介紹了九十年代中英兩國移交香港主權前後的發展。測繪香港藝術地形(出版於2011年) 及Hong Kong Artists / 20 Portraits(出版於2012年) 則介紹了近年主要的當代藝術機構和年輕藝術家,藉以呈現本土藝壇的處境。

「展覽圖錄」提供了另一個回顧香港藝術編年史發展的途徑。1970至1990年代期間的圖錄,有的是因為其概括性而入選,有的則是因為展覽本身的歷史意義而獲收錄。就後者而言,最具代表性的是《外圍與流動藝術展》,這項自行發起的展覽宣示了1987年某個周末在一幢古老宅邸掀起的一場藝術新浪潮。1989年,香港藝術中心推出了另一場標誌性的展覽:《轉變的年代:香港新一代藝術家作品展》,以期為當代藝術的發展揭開序幕。1992年,香港藝術館在一片嚴厲的批評聲中首次推出以《城市變奏》為題的本土當代藝術展。通過這批展覽的圖錄,我們得以一窺1980年代末至1990代初這個起伏跌宕的過渡時期。另外兩場展覽《中、港、台當代攝影展》(1994)及《藝術與空間:從雕塑到裝置》(1996) 則側重展示特定的媒體:前者試圖把香港置於海崍兩岸當代攝影發展的大環境之下檢視;後者則以香港科技大學的校園為平台,讓藝術家們呈現在地展示的裝置,直接反映了1990年代裝置藝術興起的現象。另一場名為《香港六十年代:設計身份》(1995) 的展覽,則回應了對本土文化如何自我定位的關注。2000年代入選的圖錄,主要是因為它們可以彰顯千禧頭十年的發展新趨勢,而不是為了突出個別展覽的重要性。此外,尚有一些側重介紹特定藝術媒體的出版物,就此可參照「特定媒體」欄目。

值得強調的是,重點推荐的材料僅為有志研究者提供了一個起點。鑑於有關藝術通史的著述不多,使用者須另行發掘其他的資料來源,以窺香港當代藝術全貌。其中一個途徑,便是參考個別藝術家和機構的材料。就此而言,使用者可參閱本文的下半部分,筆者在文中就香港當代藝術的概況提供了一些個人的見解。文中提及的關鍵人物與機構均以超連結的方式連至文獻庫的網上目錄,使用者可用之搜尋相關的材料。對於高階使用者來說,Hong Kong Art: A Bibliographic GuideArt in Hong Kong: A Chronological Guide to Exhibitions (1985-2001)香港視覺藝術年鑑皆為進一步的研究提供了豐富的資源,本使用指南就此未有贅述。



時至1970年代末,這場藝術運動的聲勢逐漸為新一輩的香港藝術家所蓋過,香港「當代藝術」於此應運而生。在這一發展浪潮中,蔡仞芝郭孟浩等藝術家和攝影家梁家泰等堪稱中流砥柱,其作品與當時全球的藝術表達形式和新興藝術形式 (如裝置藝術和行為藝術) 如出一轍。這批藝術家代表了1950年代本土出生的「嬰兒潮世代」,他們一方面對中國缺乏認同感,另一方面則深受西方文化的熏陶。


尤須一提的是,當代藝術的發展在此期間格外多姿多采。在這批藝術家當中,陳福善以超現實山水畫風另闢蹊徑,朱興華的水墨風格亦獨樹一幟,而黃祥以攝影式的現實主義手法來從事創作。楊秀卓則是一名自學成才的藝術家,他對性與暴力的描寫既赤裸無情,卻又細膩真摯,在本地藝壇堪稱只此一家。鮑藹倫既是「錄映太奇」 (創辦於1986年) 的創辦人之一,亦是推動香港錄像藝術發展的功臣之一。時至八十年代末,從內地移居香港的藝術家 (如楊東龍王亥王純杰等) 也對本地藝壇貢獻良多。






當代藝術的公共平台依然寥寥可數。嘉圖現代藝術致力於展示本土藝術,而Osage Gallery及其他的藝術空間也會偶然展出本土的當代藝術作品。1997年後,經濟衰退令租金成本有所回落,藝術村才找到了生存的空間,最先出現的是火炭藝術村,繼之而起的則有觀塘和柴灣藝術村。因為這些藝術村的存亡與地產市況息息相關,所以其前途仍有許多變數。




Recommended Readings

General Reviews 概覽

Clarke, David, Art & Place: Essays on Art from a Hong Kong perspective, Hong Kong University Press, Hong Kong, 1996
Clarke, David, Hong Kong Art: Culture and Decolonization, Hong Kong University Press, Hong Kong, 2001
Clarke, David, Oscar Ho, eds., Someone Else’s Story—Our Footnotes: Contemporary Art of Hong Kong (1990–1999), Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong, 2002
祈大衛、何慶基編,他人的故事:我們的註腳,香港當代藝術研究 (1990-1999),香港藝術中心,香港,2002。
Hinterthuer, Petra, Modern Art in Hong Kong, Myer Publishing Ltd., Hong Kong, 1985
Lai, Eliza, Snapshots of Hong Kong Art History: 1950–2000, Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong, 2011
Lai Kin Leung, Leung Po Shan, eds., Cong guodu kuayue qianxi: qiren shiyi pinglun zixuan wenji (Through the Transition and Over the Millennium: Self-Selected Visual Art Criticism Essays by Seven Critics), Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong, 2002
Lai Tsz-yuen, Topography: 12 Interviews with Contemporary Art Institutions in Hong Kong, Exterior Culture, Hong Kong, 2011
Noe, Cordelia, Christoph Noe, eds., Hong Kong Artists / 20 Portraits, Verlag für moderne Kunst Nürnberg, Nuremberg, 2012
Wear, Eric, Oscar Ho, eds., Hong Kong Art Review, The International Association of Art Critics, Hong Kong, 1999

Exhibition Catalogues 展覽圖錄


Tam, Laurence,Hong Kong Art: 1970–1980, Urban Council, Hong Kong, 1981


Ho, Oscar, Turn of a Decade: A New Generation of Artists of the Eighties, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong, 1989
Lau, Van, Ten Years of Hong Kong Sculpture: A 10th Anniversary Programme of Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong, 1988
Leung Po Shan, et al., eds., Hong Kong Artists of the 1980s, Para/Site Art Space, Hong Kong, 2002–2006
梁寶山等編,香港藝術家系列 (1980年代) ,Para/Site 藝術空間,香港,2002–2006


Dragan, Raymond A., ed., Art & Space: From Sculpture to Installation, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Arts Endowment Committee, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong, 1996
Turner, Matthew, Irene Ngan, eds., Hong Kong Sixties: Designing Identity, Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong, 1995


Au-yeung, Henry, Shen Bin, The Linear Dimension: Contemporary Hong Kong Art, Grotto Fine Art Ltd., Hong Kong, 2010
Chang, Jessie, et al., ed., CHiE!—Culture Sieges Politics, Para/Site Art Space, Hong Kong, 2008
張芷茵等編,「斷估唔拉」, Para/Site藝術空間,香港,2008
Chu, Almond, ed., Imaging Hong Kong: Contemporary Photography Exhibition, pH5 Photo Group, Hong Kong, 2008
Lau Kin Wah, ed., Local Accent: 12 Artists from Hong Kong, Para/Site Art Space, Hong Kong, 2003
Lin, Agnes, ed., Inside Looking Out, Osage, Hong Kong, 2007
Schicktanz, Claudia, ed., Urban Utopia: Deutsche Bank Collection Hong Kong, Deutsche Bank AG, Frankfurt am Main, 2010
Claudia Schicktanz編,都會烏托邦:德意志銀行藝術收藏香港,德意志銀行股份有限公司,法蘭克福,2010
Tang Hoi-chiu, ‘Hong Kong Art: Open Dialogue’ Exhibition Series II—New Ink Art: Innovation and Beyond, et. al., School of Professional and Continuing Education, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2008
鄧海超等撰文,新水墨藝術:創造•超越•翱翔,香港大學專業進修學院,香港, 2008

Medium-specific Studies 特定媒體

Ink Painting 水墨畫

Lee Chun-yi, ed., Xianggang xiandai shuimohua wenxuan (An Anthology of Hong Kong Modern Ink Painting), Hong Kong Modern Chinese Ink Painting Association, Hong Kong, 2001

Installation Art 裝置藝術

Cheung, William, ed., Complement and Supplement: Appreciation of Hong Kong Installation Art, Step Forward Multi Media, Hong Kong, 1999
張鳳麟編,拆東牆補西牆-香港裝置藝術賞析, 進一步多媒體有限公司,香港,1999

Video Art & New Media 錄像與新媒體

Yeung Yang, ed., 20 Years of Hong Kong Independent Media Art, Videotage, Hong Kong, 2006

Performance Art 行為藝術

Wen Yau, Project File: Hong Kong Performance Art Research Project, Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong, 2006

Photography 攝影

Lai, Dennis, Contact: 52 wei Xianggang dangdai sheyingjia (Contact: 52 Hong Kong Contemporary Photographers), Pop Art Group Limited, Hong Kong, 2010
黎韶琪編,Contact: 52位香港當代攝影家,博藝集團有限公司,香港,2010