Art at the ASHK Site
Asia Society Hong Kong Center opened its home in the Former Explosives Magazine of the Old Victoria Barracks in 2012 after over a decade of revitalization efforts. Based on a winning design by the New York-based Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, the Center preserves four heritage buildings connected by newly built spaces, including a multipurpose hall, an amphitheater, a two-level water feature and roof garden. A range of public artworks by local and international artists are on view across the site as a dedication to making art accessible for all. The public artworks speak to different Asian cultures as well as create cross-cultural dialogues between Hong Kong and the world.
亞洲協會香港中心在2012年正式落址於金鐘前域多利軍營軍火庫。中心歷經十多年的復修過程，根據紐約Tod Williams Billien Tsien Architects的設計，保育四棟古蹟建築物同時，亦建設新的多用途場地、戶外劇場、流水池及空中花園。中心内外展示國際和本地藝術家的多元作品，均回應不同亞洲地區文化、建立跨國界交流，旨在推廣公眾藝術欣賞。
Enoch Cheung is a conceptual artist working with photography, video and mixed media installation to question our perception of daily life and social issues. Cheung was fascinated by the intersection of heritage and contemporary architecture at the Center. In 2017, during the exhibition Breathing Space: Contemporary Art from Hong Kong, he used long exposure night-time photography to produce these panoramic images that delineate all the seams where old and material converge at the site. By punctuating the restored heritage with laser beams, Cheung calls attention to the memories that still remain from colonial historic vestiges.
Gu Wenda is one of China’s most influential contemporary artists known for his practice using traditional ink painting, poetry, calligraphy and pseudo-characters, as well as human body materials to reinterpret ancient Chinese tradition and reflect on problems of globalization. This painting is part of Gu’s on-going Mythos of Lost Dynasties series started in 1983. As with many other works in the series, this painting features a monumental pseudo-Chinese seal script character emerging from a splashed ink landscape. To contemporary readers, ancient Chinese seal script and Gu’s invented ideograph could be equally as illegible. The artist consistently employs pseudo-ideographs in his practice to create ambiguous familiarity that questions the boundaries of semantic meaning and one’s relationship with cultural history.
Hao Liang is a painter trained in traditional Chinese ink painting and recognized for his contemporary landscape compositions that weaves together Chinese and Western cultural allegory. This pair of diptych explores the subject of time and perspective. Hao Liang depicts the same fantastical landscape in two versions—a monumental one of a colorful day, and a smaller one showing the intense dark of night. In both, the artist distorts spatial dimensionality and proportions, emphasizing the constant transformation of the sea, land and sky. The diptych was inspired by ink stone tablets of Qing dynasty literatus Wang Ziruo, who created small replicas of huge, eroding ancient steles engraved with various texts, pictures and historical information. Struck by these tablets and their rubbings, Hao applied the same logic to his landscapes, showing how light, scale, and texture alter legibility and memory.
Adrian Wong was originally trained in research psychology; his installation, video and sculpture practice is heavily research-based and explores his relationship to his environment, often through the filter of fictional narratives. In 2017, during the exhibition Breathing Space: Contemporary Art from Hong Kong, Wong was struck by this niche, which was designed by the Center architects for artwork display, to create a site-specific artwork that continued his on-going Untitled Grates series. Replicated and enlarged from a second-hand window grate Wong found locally, the work references Hong Kong’s Bauhinia symbol and other common floral motifs popular around the Pearl River Delta during 1960-1975. The motifs speak to a period of broad cultural impact for Hong Kong as its manufacturing industry was at its peak and the economy grew rapidly as result. Recalling the weathered neon street signs of Hong Kong, this work changes in color and patina over time to witness the city’s social and cultural transformations.
Zhang Huan is a prominent contemporary Chinese artist known for his visceral and confrontational endurance performances in the 1990s and later sculptures and paintings that explore themes of memory and spirituality in relation to Buddhist practice. This sculpture was inspired by Zhang’s trip to Tibet in 2005, where he discovered fragments of Buddhist sculptures that had been damaged during the Cultural Revolution. Rather than a religious image, this monumental Buddha head lying aslant with its rough surface and welded joints reflects on the history of human conflict and the preservation of culture. Included as part of ASHK’s inaugural exhibition Transforming Minds: Buddhism in Art in 2012, this sculpture now sits at the Center as a permanent installation.
Antony Gormely is a British artist widely acclaimed for his sculptures, installation sand public artworks that investigate the relationship of the human body to space. This sculpture, part of Gormley’s series Another Time, is one in a hundred casted from the artist’s own body. Looking over the fast-paced city from ASHK’s highest rooftop, the sculpture stands frozen in time to make us reflect on what it means to be alive as an individual, and how human beings fit in with the scheme of the world. The sculpture was previously brought to ASHK in 2015 through Event Horizon, a large-scale public art installation in Hong Kong presented by the British Council. After the event, ASHK launched a crowdfunding campaign to support the sculpture to remain as a celebration of the impact of community public art.
安東尼·葛姆雷是一位當代英國藝術家，其雕塑、裝置和公共藝術作品均探討人體與空間的關係，備受國際肯定。這個雕塑來自《Another Time》系列，是一百個由藝術家自己的身體鑄成的雕塑之一。雕塑站於本中心的最高點俯視瞬間萬變的城市，在時間中停頓，旨意讓我們反思生命和人類在世界中該如何自處。這個雕塑初在2015年，於英國文化協會舉辦的大型公共藝術項目《Event Horizon》期間落座本中心。項目結束後，本中心開啟了眾籌計劃保留此雕塑，以推廣公共藝術的重要性。
Vaan Ip works with sculpture and light installations to explore the cityscape, architecture and psychology of urban space in Hong Kong. In 2017, during the exhibition Breathing Space: Contemporary Art from Hong Kong, Ip was inspired by the skyscrapers towering over the Center’s roof garden to create this site-specific abstract geometric sculpture. Made with stainless steel, the sculpture reflects the city on its surface and draws our attention to the overbuilt claustrophobia of Hong Kong. Ip includes a kite soaring out of his steel complex to symbolize hope against ceaseless urban transformation.
Zhan Wang is a significant contemporary Chinese artist best known for his sculptures that reinterpret the traditional Chinese scholar’s rock to explore a range of issues related to China’s shifting value systems and development. Chinese garden rocks have long been revered by ancient scholars as aesthetic and philosophical objects for their strange, dynamic forms. By creating a classical garden rock with industrial stainless steel, Zhan prompts us to think about how tradition evolves and sustains in the contemporary world. This sculpture responds aptly to the Center’s design, as the Center architects were inspired by their visits to Suzhou gardens to design ASHK as a “horizontal garden in a vertical city.” Just as Zhan combines the artificial and natural in his sculpture conceptually, the Center also integrates nature with the manmade in its architecture.
Eddie Kang is a South Korean artist known for his original, nostalgic characters influenced by television and cartoon of the millennial generation. Inspired by his urban upbringing in Seoul, Kang created this sculpture with five of his original characters—Storyteller the Clown, Cabbit, Bubble Bearcup, Rag Doll and Goblin the Robot—to reflect a spectrum of emotions in city life that resonate with Hong Kong. The artist uses a cartoonish aesthetic to recall the joy and simplicity of childhood in the hopes to provide comfort in the congested and tense urban city. Kang is currently the chair of Asia Society’s Asia 21 Korea Chapter, a network of young leaders across the Asia-Pacific region that promote mutual understanding in the fields of politics, business, media and arts through local community engagement and global summits.