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The art lover’s guide to Hong Kong, where Eastern traditions meet Western conventions

  • Written by Lifestyle Asia

Hong Kong has always been known for its vibrant night markets, its Michelin-starred street food and more recently as a premiere international arts and culture hub. The city is defined by its dwellers’ sophisticated and international-savvy lifestyle, and one can pinpoint its influence by both the East and the West — the fusion of traditional Chinese culture with the trendsetting Western culture.

West Kowloon Cultural District brings out the best of art in Hong Kong, keeping tradition alive while introducing modern elements.

Alongside other major art cities, Hong Kong has established itself as one of the world’s largest art trading centres. While the rest of the world had effectively pressed ‘pause’ on its art pursuits during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hong Kong has embraced itself as a global art hub. Art auctions and art fairs were able to safely continue, and gallery exhibitions were held — while complying with health guidelines — to introduce artists and new works, both locally and abroad.

Traditionally, Hong Kong was known as a centre for the trading of Chinese fine art and antiques. But as times have evolved and Hong Kong has become more of a melting pot where Eastern cultures and Western conventions meet, the city’s growing art scene is now much more diverse, creating new platforms for homegrown artistic talents.

Today, the new West Kowloon Cultural District aims to bring out the best of art in Hong Kong, keeping tradition alive while introducing modern elements, in an effort to promote a cultural exchange between the East and the West.

To enjoy the “best of both worlds” check our curated list of hot spots across the city, particularly within the neighbourhood of West Kowloon, where you can find the best of East meets West art.

M+

Located in West Kowloon, M+ is Asia’s first-ever global museum of contemporary art that opened its doors last November. Complete with over 33 galleries and display spaces featuring visual design and architecture, you can also do some shopping and dining at M+ while you take in the breathtaking views of Hong Kong’s skyline from atop the Roof Garden. Primed to be a destination for both regional and international visitors, M+ seeks to foster an exchange between Hong Kong and the global art community by showcasing works that touch on globalisation and explores post-war themes as told from both Western and Asian perspectives.

M+ is located at 38 Museum Drive, West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong.

Freespace

In the heart of the West Kowloon Art Park is where you’ll find Freespace, also known as Hong Kong’s latest centre for contemporary performance. Working hand in hand with artists not only within Hong Kong but also from around the world, Freespace nurtures a range of diverse creative voices through performances and events of all genres such as contemporary music, dance and theatre — further emphasising the city’s position as an international arts and culture hub. Freespace is also home to The Box, Hong Kong’s largest black box theatre as well as Lau Bak Livehouse, a small bar and performance venue that showcases the growing local music scene and workshops, film screenings and cultural events.

Freespace is located at Cultural District, West Kowloon, No. 18 Museum Dr, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong.

HK Palace Museum

Set to take Hong Kong’s traditional art culture by storm when it opens this July, HK Palace Museum is geared up to be West Kowloon’s hub of all things classical Chinese. With five of its nine galleries solely dedicated to the history and culture of the Palace Museum through its collection’s exceptional works, you’ll be able to soak in the full historical experience. Two galleries are also devoted to special exhibitions featuring Chinese art, as well as artefacts from other parts of the world that are in dialogue with Chinese culture. On top of a Hong Kong perspective, HK Palace Museum will also offer up a global vision, presenting the finest objects from other important cultural institutions around the world.

HK Palace Museum will be located at Hong Kong, Yau Ma Tei, West Kowloon Nursery Park, West Kowloon.

Biu Kee Mahjong

Cheung Shun-King, Hong Kong artisan and owner of Biu Kee Mahjong.

What better way to immerse yourself in Chinese tradition than to learn the roots of its long-established game, mahjong? Every neighbour of any Hong Kong household can tell just what they are up to by the clacking sounds of mahjong tiles, a true staple of Chinese culture. But with its popularity slowly shrinking and the digital age taking over, there are only three remaining artisan mahjong tile carvers struggling to keep the art alive in Hong Kong — and one of them is Cheung Shun-King from Biu Kee Mahjong. Tucked in his tiny understairs store, humbly located on Jordan Road, Cheung relies on his own craftsmanship to draw in visitors of all backgrounds, creating a pocket within the city where the age-old Eastern tradition meets crowds and appreciators from across the world.

Biu Kee Mahjong is located at 26F, Jordan Rd, Hong Kong.

Sindart

First founded in 1958, Sindart is one of the oldest stores in Hong Kong that makes and trades in traditional handmade Chinese embroidered slippers. This small, unassuming shop on Jordan Road is owned by Miru Wong, granddaughter of the shop’s original founder, and the third generation in her family to run it. She has been making embroidered footwear since primary school and is proud to carry on this unique cultural heritage, constantly coming up with new, modern styles that appeal to both the Eastern and Western public, while still keeping to its traditional designs.

Sindart is located at 150-164, Woosung St, Jordan Rd, Hong Kong.

 

To discover more art destinations across Hong Kong, visit Arts in Hong Kong for more guides.

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