Hubert Burda Media

Must-see exhibitions in Hong Kong this September

Shows by David Salle, Marco Brambilla and Apichatpong Weerasethakul are opening in the next few weeks.

Hong Kong’s cultural scene has exploded at an international level since the launch of the annual Art Basel in Hong Kong fair in 2013. But for art lovers who want to discover smaller exhibitions outside of that week-long event in March, there are plenty of other shows to see. From post-apocalyptic, sci-fi imagery to artists that challenge cultural conventions, we pick three shows that have made the top of our must-see list this month.

David Salle exhibition at Lehmann Maupin (from September 8 – November 12)

Often described as the artist who redefined neo-expressionism, American artist and graduate of California Institute of Arts David Salle presents this solo exhibition at the Hong Kong outpost of Lehmann Maupin.

Having studied under famed painter and printmaker John Baldessari, Salle’s vibrant paintings are known to mix emotion and eroticism. Salle, who’s obsessed with paintbrushes, is famous for his collages: his previous stints at the art departments of various romance and pornographic magazines have proven their value.

In describing his own work, the phrase “constructed quality” is as specific as Salle could get. There’s no randomness, but rather a systematic ensemble of divergent parts that work together. “A jazz orchestra of instruments that work great individually, yet creates a startling dialogue when put together,” Salle has said.

Be aware that this exhibition is not for the traditionalist. Expect absurd combinations of contrasting portraits and still-life, complementary colours and nudity.

Creation (Megaplex) 3D (2012) by Marco Brambilla. Courtesy of the artist and Simon Lee Gallery

Creation (Megaplex) 3D (2012) by Marco Brambilla. Courtesy of the artist and Simon Lee Gallery

Marco Brambilla exhibition at Simon Lee (from September 9 – October 4)

If the contrast between portraits and still-life is not exciting enough to kick off your day, try vortex video collages by Marco Brambilla that combine Julie Andrews from The Sound of Music, the final line-up at Miss Universe, hallucinatory apocalyptic imagery and Renaissance paintings from the likes of Botticelli and Michelangelo.

These swirling, galactic videos by the New York and Berlin-based artist explore the overload of visual imagery in society. Brambilla’s work has gripped the attention of sci-fi and fantasy addicts who refer to Brambilla as the master of visual overload. ‘Power’, the music video/modern art montage by man of the hour Kanye West, was directed and produced by Brambilla.

“The main idea… was to create a fracture between the concept itself and the way it’s expressed in the most pop, most banal imagery of a Hollywood film; you’re dealing with something that has a real underpinning historically and has been interpreted in many very serious ways,” Brambilla explained when asked about the video.

As the final, most technically complex instalment of the Megaplex trilogy, Creation – which Brambilla is showing at Simon Lee Gallery in Hong Kong – is set within a DNA helix. This exhibition is the first Brambilla show in Hong Kong, where the spiralling work will be shown in both 3D and virtual reality headsets.

Power Boy (Mekong) by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Courtesy the artist

Power Boy (Mekong) by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Courtesy the artist

Apichatpong Weerasethakul exhibition at Para Site (from September 18 – November 27)

Film director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s travelling exhibition The Serenity of Madness comes to Hong Kong’s Para Site after a stop in Japan, where he’s been promoting his independent films.   

Winner of the prestigious Cannes Palme d’Or in 2010, Weerasethakul prescribes to instincts rather than rules, experimentation rather than commerciality, setting himself apart as a director from the general film industry in Thailand. As some of his films explore controversial topics, Weerasethakul doesn’t show some of his films in Thailand and has been pushed into producing shorter films and photography projects.

The Serenity of Madness brings together some rarely-seen short films, scripts sketches and unseen materials. Memory and animism plays a large role in his creative process of filmmaking. As the self-described introvert once proclaimed, “movie is a powerful tool to be behind it all, to look with a different angle and replace your eyes’. His powerful visuals will provoke your imagination and encourage you to see films with a political and spiritual lens.