THE DARK SIDE OF HONG KONG NIGHT LIFE 1

We had the pleasure of attending the Hidden Street contemporary street art opening last night at Pearl Lam’s new gallery in Sai Ying Pun. The spanking new two-story gallery (more white than a blizzard) is located in the ground floor of the equally sparkling SOHO high-rise condo – a gleaming pillar of glass and steel rising up out of fish shops, bakeries and ginseng merchants on Queen’s Road West. Welcome to the new Sai Ying Pun, where money and sweat rub elbows at art openings; street artists invade respectable galleries and sparkly women of fashion and gay financiers with coke bottle glasses look at modern day cave paintings and say ‘No really, it’s sooo clever!’

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Work in progress

It was a pretty big turn out last night – lots of the usual suspects; street artists who weren’t called upon, DJ’s from the wherever, English teachers (actually those two are almost interchangeable), local gallery assistants wearing black, creative directors (facial hair, glasses, oddly striped shirts), and of course the people who follow this scene around in case it really does start generating money in Hong Kong the way it has in cities with art scenes not dominated by bankers and mainland Chinese collectors. And finally the hoi polloi who always show up at these openings for the free wine – and in this case popsicles.

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Collective piece

We showed up to see the wall created by Cath Love, a local street artist who recently created ‘Jeliboo’ – a wonderfully cute, sexy, innocent, curvaceous Eurasian cartoon character who has captured the imaginations of many on the local and international street art scene. There were nine artists involved, but only five walls, plus the front glass, which had been painted on as well – so a few walls were collaboration pieces. The artists were Cath Love, Uns, Sinic, Peter Yuill, Hadrian Lam, Felipe Wong, Bao, Anny and 4Get. Well let’s face it, those are some pretty great names. C’mon, Hadrian Lam?

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Peter Yuill

Anyway, Cath’s wall didn’t disappoint. It was an ode to the humble Hong Kong cha chaan teng, complete with Jeliboo in a fantasy smorgasbord of HK style French toast (oozing butter and syrup), egg tarts and bolo bao. Mixed in with her wall painting were actual canvases that, when dismounted will make for some very fun abstract art. It was done very cleverly indeed. I also liked the red and blue works on two walls by a collective that include the best names: Uns, Hadrian Lam (my man!), Felipe Wong (second place), Bao and Anny. They had one wall that wrapped around a corner of the staircase, and in a swirl of Hong Kong drain water (sea water?) swished down to the floor and into a painted street grate, creating a wonderful trompe l’oeil.

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The DJ (of course there was a DJ) played an innocuous mix of House and other stuff that sounded like House. Now that’s a thankless gig – Art opening DJ (I know, I’ve done it). The only request you’ll get all night is turn it down. But it’s de rigueur at a contemporary street art show. The popsicles were a nice touch (artisan if you will) and two guys were silk screening some nice FREE tee shirts as well. I grabbed two, but I’m old school like that. They clearly put some thought into this show, even though it’s August and a low season filler for a major gallerist like Pearl Lam. And there will be community events and workshops, and people were allowed in during the week to see it go up, ‘live’ as it were.

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Cath Love and Jeliboo

The rest of the walls on this ‘hidden street’ were nice, but didn’t capture the essence of Hong Kong in the same way as Cath Love or the aforementioned collective. The show is up for a month, and is definitely worth a perusal, and it’s only a block away from the new MTR station in the new Sai Ying Pun.

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The scene

Slip Mahoney