Now in its second year, Art Central Hong Kong returns to the city’s burgeoning art week with over 100 galleries, nearly doubling its 2015 showing and staking its claim as a must-see fair. Across the harborfront tent, the city’s largest temporary structure to date, expect a sprawling selection of eye-catching pieces from emerging artists alongside rare work by pioneers of the post-war avant-garde, from Nam June Paik to Park Seo-Bo to Yayoi Kusama. Below, we highlight the most compelling works at the fair.
Nam June Paik, Techno Boy II, 2000
Available at: Galerie Bhak, Booth E10
These days, much of Paik’s groundbreaking body of work (he’s been touted as the father of video art and a founding member of the Fluxus movement) is housed in museum collections. But luckily, at the fair, Galerie Bhak has managed to gather three sculptures made within the last 10 years of the Korean artist’s life (1932–2006). Techno Boy II (2000) is one of the iconic army of robots that Paik built from found electronics and embedded with televisions starting in the 1980s. The robots tap into early anxieties inspired by the onslaught of technology and predict our more recent obsession with—or perhaps impending transformation into—cyborgs.
Yayoi Kusama, Pumpkin, 1982
Available at: Sakurado Fine Arts, Booth A14
A pioneer of the New York avant-garde and a harbinger of Pop, Kusama creates monumental pumpkin sculptures—covered in her signature accumulations of dots—that have in recent years been the centerpieces of major museum exhibitions and gallery shows alike. Here, Sakurado Fine Arts shows one of the Japanese artist’s earliest interpretations of the idiosyncratic vegetable, which she uses as a proxy for self-portraiture. (She once described the object’s “generous unpretentiousness” and “solid spiritual base” as its most alluring qualities.)
Kwang-Ho Lee, Cactus No.98, 2015
AVAILABLE AT: JOHYUN GALLERY, BOOTH D16
Korean artist Lee’s sumptuous hyperrealistic paintings of cacti hone in on the shapeshifting succulent’s more corporeal qualities. Some canvases depict bright, bulging forms that seem to grow before our eyes. Others, like this work, burst with new flowers whose erect blossoms allude to regeneration and virility.
Atsuko Tanaka, ’88 (150) C, 1988
AVAILABLE AT: WHITESTONE GALLERY, BOOTH E3
An influential member of the Japanese Gutai group, which banded together through a common interest in breaking down the boundaries between art and life, Tanaka focused her practice on ideas of interconnectivity. While she’s best known for her Electric Dress (1956), a garment woven of incandescent bulbs coated in enamel paint that she donned for her groundbreaking performances, the artist also made paintings reminiscent of electrical circuits. In this work, painted in the last 20 years of Tanaka’s life, a lively jumble of circles and lines resembles a heat map of the human body or a circuit board powering creativity.
Park Seo-Bo, Ecriture No.991118, 1999
Available at: Gallery Hyundai, Booth B1
Given the market’s recent penchant for Korean Minimalism, it’s no surprise that there’s a good amount on display at the fair, a standout being the Seoul-based Gallery Hyundai, who shows two leaders of the movement: Park Seo-Bo and Lee Ufan. This Seo-Bo painting comes from his trademark “Ecriture” series, which the artist began in the 1960s. In step with American Minimalism, Seo-Bo abandons gesture in order to highlight the formal rigor—and transcendental effects—of hard-edged forms and repetition. Like all paintings from the series, the artist made this work in a single sitting.
Lee Ufan, With Wind, 1990
Available at: Gana Art, Booth B7
Artist-philosopher Ufan is a founder of the iconoclastic Mono-ha movement, which sought to eliminate an individual artist’s hand (and cult of personality) from their work. His paintings have risen to prominence in recent years, evidenced by major shows at the Guggenheim Museum, Pace Gallery, and Lisson Gallery, among others. This large-scale, gestural canvas comes from the Korean artist’s famed “With Winds” series, in which he visualized the dynamism of invisible forces (like wind) through a pared-down palette and big, bold strokes.
Wanda Bernardino, On the Sense of Loneliness, 2015
AVAILABLE AT: BO.LEE GALLERY, BOOTH F12
For her enigmatic paintings, Portuguese, London-based artist Bernardino appropriates figures from traditional 19th-century portraiture, then obscures their faces with aggressive strokes of white paint. The seductive works surface complicated questions around vandalism, the veracity of portraiture, and the malleability of identity. In this painting, one of Bernardino’s largest, we can only infer information about the subjects from their clothing and the intimacy of their hand gestures, which the artist renders exquisitely.
Nobuyoshi Araki, Hong Kong Kiss, 1997
AVAILABLE AT: AMANASALTO, BOOTH D13
At age 75, Araki still takes photographs every day, a fact driven home by the abundance of his work on view at Tokyo-based gallery amanasalto’s booth. This intimate black-and-white image comes from Araki’s encyclopedic series “Hong Kong Kiss,” which documents the people and spaces—from elegant, to everyday, to downright seedy—of the teeming metropolis. Also in the booth, don’t miss a group of contact sheets from Araki’s most renowned body of work, “Un Voyage Sentimental,” which tracks the movements of his wife, both the public and the private, over the course of their honeymoon.
Wang Xingwei, Untitled (Computer Repair), 2015
Available at: Rén Space, Booth A7
One of China’s most celebrated contemporary artists, Xingwei famously blends pop-cultural and art-historical references in satirical paintings that feature a recurring cast of characters. In Untitled (Computer Repair), Xingwei resurfaces a man and a woman whose heads have been replaced by a watering can and a flower pot, respectively. While past paintings have shown the duo in a manicured garden, this canvas adds a neon sign reading “Computer Repair” to the scene, creating a topsy-turvy universe in which nothing is as it seems.
Yu Youhan, Life of Mao, 2015
Available at: Rén Space, Booth A7
Lauded as the father of Political Pop, Youhan has depicted the controversial Chinese leader Chairman Mao across his body of work. In one painting, the artist famously appropriated Warhol’s portraits of Mao and Marilyn Monroe, fusing them together in a powerful gesture of satire (a dictator in drag). Here, Youhan takes images of Mao from different moments in his life, renders them as cartoons, and festoons them with iconography drawn from Chinese folk art—then swathes the whole scene in a rusty patina that secures its subject firmly in the past.