K11 MUSEA to Bring History of Street Art to Hong Kong
The exhibition features pioneers such as Keith Haring, OSGEMEOS, and AIKO. Outside of art institutions, local street artists have thrived since the pandemic.
Martin Wong, Untitled (Bicycle Boy) (1997–98). Acrylic on canvas, 30 x 48 inches. © Estate of Martin Wong. Courtesy of William Lim c/o Living Limited, the Estate of Martin Wong and P•P•O•W, New York.
Among the highlights are an untitled three-metre-wide spray painting by Keith Haring and LA II, FUTURA's El Diablo (1985), and JR's Eye Contact #13 (2018), which uses poster pieces pasted to the sides of model trains to create an image of an eye.
The show is curated by Jeffrey Deitch, former director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.
'Jeffrey has been at the forefront of the institutional acceptance of street art, and we're delighted to be working with him to bring this landmark exhibition to China,' Cheng said.
Hong Kong has its own vibrant street art scene, and Cheng said 'it's great to have local graffiti artists and art students contribute to the exhibition including Kristopher Ho, Start From Zero, and street art collective Parent's Parents.'
LOUSY, who's part of the AK crew, said the local scene thrived under lockdown.
'It was the best during the peak of the pandemic 'cause the streets were deserted. We could do whatever we want.'
'Thanks to the pandemic, local artists actually get to shine a bit because there's [few foreign] artists,' he said. 'In a city like Hong Kong that's used to foreign excitement, the local scene usually gets ignored.'
Jason Dembski is the co-founder of HKwalls, whose street art festival returns to Hong Kong from 18 to 26 March. He agreed that street artists were busy during the pandemic.
'It was maybe the most active I can remember outside of the political stuff during the protests,' he said.
Artists were among the huge numbers of Hong Kongers who came out to protest against an extradition bill and China's revised National Security Law from 2019 to 2020.
Dembski said that since then 'the spectrum of things that can be said or that art can be made about, without repercussions, has narrowed, probably, especially for those artists that are quite blunt and straight to the point.'
However, he added that 'artists in China have been addressing issues and politics through more subtle means for a long time.'
Cath Love, the Hong Kong-based graffiti artist behind Jeliboo, said street art was increasingly accepted in the city, with a healthy balance of commissions from property owners, gallery exhibitions, and spontaneous street art.
'I believe the reason we see a lot of tags and street art [in Hong Kong] is because the surfaces they're painted on belong to those who have bigger fish to fry,' she said. —[O]