Hong Kong is not known for its emerging arts scene, but there is one. And there are great artists in it. Covid-19 has helped put a spotlight on homegrown talent as travel restrictions have put a natural focus on what is on our doorstep.
We have been following Kwong Manchun for nearly 10 years. He is part of a group of artists who are academically trained with incredible technique but with an inquisitive practice which pushes them into a space of experimentation. What we love about Manchun is that while his work is excellent conceptually and in execution, it is also visually joyous.
During a tiny window last year, there was a break in Covid-19 restrictions long enough to be able to visit a physical exhibition opening. Contemporary by Angelia Li hosted the exhibition ‘A Backyard of Memories’. It was the second time Kwong Manchun has been a star of a show at this gallery, with a huge canvas from his ‘Hang Cen Ling and Tenement Housing’ series hanging in the window. And for the second time, his was the first piece to sell despite being the most expensive. This series depicts scenes from the artist’s childhood, a backdrop of a hybrid environment spanning where he was born in Southern China (Hang Cen Ling) and where he moved to when he was 5 – tenement housing in Hong Kong. The screens he says are from the tenement housing and the lush nature filling and flowing though these rich canvases are memories of the greenery that surrounded him in his very early childhood in China.
Manchun is a talented painter. He is in love with his calling and a dedicated student of technique and creative experimentation. Fundamentally, he knows how to draw and how to paint, he is a worthy poster child of the young generation of Hong Kong artists. Whilst his approach may seem conventional, his continuous quest to evolve takes his process into yet more delightful, engaging, contemporary spaces. In one of his latest works, he has taken his telltale lush foliage and submerged it under a thin layer of water in a small pool. Video footage taken from above by drone of various human and animal movements, such as sweeping leaves on the street and fish swimming are projected onto this unique surface and you find your self looking down onto a moving canvas, a full pond of swaying grasses and flowing water as activity subtly goes about its business inside the dreamscape.
Manchun can be said to be representative of his generation, but like many of his peers here in Hong Kong, he is a true pioneer of his craft, taught to care about the creative process as well as the skill necessary to make something meaningful and attractive out of nothing. Hong Kong may be establishing itself as an arts centre and while it remains far off such global heavyweights like London, New York and Paris but the talent is here and we are honoured to be working with one of the shining stars of Hong Kong’s cultural future.
Manchun is accompanied by a group of emerging artists here in Hong Kong, many pushing boundaries and presenting fascinating concepts and beautifully executed works. We will be highlighting more of them this year as we celebrate the creatives here, on our doorstep.