Published: 10:41, May 20, 2021 | Updated: 14:01, May 21, 2021
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Art Central upholds local art
By Joyce Yip

Peter Chan’s homage to iconic Hong Kong films, presented by Gallery HZ. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Art Central kicks off today. It’s free to visit. And the spotlight on Cantonese culture is evident from the nomenclature. 

Four of the fair’s new programs have Cantonese names: Duk Dak, or distinctiveness; Gwo Wai, a term for Cantonese opera performers crossing paths; Gok Dou, meaning perspectives; and Chung Dim, which stands for center point. 

Duk Dak Solo Presentations is home to single-artist exhibitions from eight galleries. For example, Gallery HZ is presenting Canadian-Chinese artist Peter Chan who channels his obsession with Hong Kong films in his works, referencing superstition, identity, popular culture, traditions and gender ideologies.  

Fair director Corey Andrew Barr said a discount was offered to these solo-exhibit galleries as an incentive to “do something special”. 

“There’s a higher risk to show one artist as there’s not much potential to make sales, but we want to bring something exciting to the audience.”  

Angela Yuen’s illuminated cityscape, presented by Contemporary by Angela Li. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

For the Gwo Wai Curated Booths, Art Central curatorial director Andre Chan selected works themed on physical movement. The one to watch here is Art Projects Gallery’s Hong Kong-born “sticker artist” Damon Tong Wai-kit. The hallmark of his work is the use of satirical exaggeration — an attempt to underscore the insecurities he has been dealing with in recent years.  

In the Galleries section, check out the vivid water color and ink drawings of Hong Kong by Carmen Ng at the Karin Weber Gallery booth. Angela Yuen’s illuminated Hong Kong landscapes made of vintage plastic toys make a comeback, joined by Chan Wai-lap’s delicately-etched images depicting experiences that are often typically Hong Kong. Both are presented by Contemporary by Angela Li. 

Barr said the focus on Cantonese culture and Hong Kong artists is the result of both artwork accessibility as well as an effort to establish deeper connections with what’s primarily a local audience. Most of the works featured were created in the last two years. 

A delicately-etched piece by Chan Wai-lap,  presented by Contemporary by Angela Li. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Artists, connoisseurs, gallerists and industry watchers from around the world join panel discussions as part of Gok Dou Live, brought to Art Central by Asia Society Hong Kong Centre. HERE/THERE, meanwhile, is showing 50 works by artists from outside Hong Kong. Each piece comes with a QR code, directing buyers to the concerned gallery. 

This is the first time Art Central will share a roof with Art Basel and Fine Art Asia at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The fair’s usual Central Harbourfront site was ruled out as flying in equipment from overseas to set up the tents would not have been easy to accomplish at this time. 

If You Go

Art Central

Date: May 20-23, 2021

Venue: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, 1 Expo Drive, Wan Chai, Hong Kong