Latest Posts

Nicole Wong @suitcaseinstitute

On How to Say Goodbye / Sep 24, 9pm HKT / Suitcase Institute /
Only accessible through @suitcaseinstitute on Instagram /

Suitcase Institute is pleased to announce the official inaugural performance for On How to Say Goodbye (2020), an artwork by artist Nicole Wong.

Nicole Wong’s suitcase is a meditation on impermanence, memory, intimacy, life, death, and farewells. Here, a vintage, taxidermy fox appears to be sleeping; nearby are items that connote acts of intimacy and connection, such as a comb, a bottle of hand sanitizer, and postcards. When displayed, the artwork invites passers-by to examine their own relationship to loss, grief, and mortality, creating moments of connection in unexpected places.

In an effort to avoid large public gatherings, however, Nicole Wong has decided to publicly unveil the artwork with a performance that will be live-streamed from Suitcase Institute’s Instagram account (@suitcaseinstitute) at 9pm on Thursday, September 24.

On How to Say Goodbye is the second suitcase artwork produced by Suitcase Institute. The artwork has previously been shown on a pedestrian bridge in Hong Kong. For more details on Suitcase Institute and its future projects and locations, visit and subscribe to the newsletter.

To request an interview with the artist or the co-founders of Suitcase Institute, please contact

Notes to Editors

Nicole Wong (b. 1990, Hong Kong) works beyond the bounds of any single medium, adopting a process-driven approach to investigating philosophical questions associated with time, the tenuous connections between words and objects, and the limits of communication. 

Often quiet and unassuming, Wong’s works invite introspective thought through their appeal to universal sentiments and desires. Deftly weaving wordplay and double entendre throughout her practice, the artist explores the connections between literal and connotative meanings. Her works thus enter the realm of semiotics, incorporating everyday objects and common materials to question the relationship between an object’s physical form its meaning. 

Wong has presented in notable international group exhibitions including SUPERPOSITION: Equilibrium & Engagement, curated by Mami Kataoka, Biennale of Sydney, Australia (2018); A Tree Fell in the Forest, and No One’s There, curated by Andre Chan, Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China (2018–19); KOTODAMA, Para Site, Hong Kong (2018); and Self-Criticism – How Much Time Is Being Wasted?, curated by Lee Kit, Inside Out Museum, Beijing, China (2017).

Suitcase Institute is a traveling platform for the itinerant exhibition of art. Suitcase Institute exhibitions can travel to and be presented in any location. While traveling, the suitcase is used as luggage. Exhibitions unpack / wrap-up open / close assemble / disassemble quickly. Suitcase Institute was founded in Hong Kong in 2018 by Willem Molesworth and Ysabelle Cheung. For more information on upcoming presentations, please visit

Cypher – An encounter of dance and movement live and online

Art Park, West Kowloon Cultural District
Hong Kong

This autumn, Freespace presents a three-month encounter of dance and movement live and online with innovative performances by regional artists. Events include With/out Umeda, a showcase of works by Japanese choreographer and multidisciplinary artist Hiroaki Umeda devised in response to the 2020 reality of travel restrictions and social distancing; The Battle, a cross-genre blend of dance competition and theatrical performance; and Hong Kong Dance Company’s new performance Convergence that, along with an immersive VR video, offers new perspectives on movement through the lens of Chinese dance and martial arts. The programme also includes a range of master classes, movement and graffiti workshops, seminars, exhibitions and other activities in and around Freespace. Buy tickets now:

With/out Umeda 
Oct 11, Sunday 8pm

Live Online Premiere at POPTICKET

Oct 14–17, Wednesday – Saturday
On-demand viewing at POPTICKET
A specially curated exploration of the work of internationally acclaimed choreographer and multidisciplinary avant-garde artist Hiroaki Umeda, featuring an immersive digital installation, dance videos, a real-time solo digital performance and Umeda live from Tokyo.

HKDC in Residence 2020: Convergence
Oct 18, Sunday 8pm
Online Premiere at POPTICKET

Oct 19–24, Monday – Saturday
On-demand viewing at POPTICKET
The culminating work of an interdisciplinary research study on Chinese martial arts and dance traditions, Convergence brings together new perspectives on dance, movement and the fluidity of expression, and captures the transient state between stillness and exuberance.

HKDC in Residence 2020: VR Video
Dec 8–13, Tuesday – Sunday

Freespace, Art Park, West Kowloon Cultural District
Moving between the real and the imaginary, Hong Kong Dance Company’s 15-minute virtual reality video is a vibrant, other-wordly immersive experience that offers viewers an unusual up-close glimpse into the world of traditional martial arts.

The Battle, Dec 12, 8pm
Freespace, Art Park, West Kowloon Cultural District
Part hip-hop dance off, part choreographed performance, The Battle is a cross-genre mix of street dance, contemporary dance, theatre, storytelling – an immersive, interactive experience, where audiences participate as spectators and judges, or as competitors in an experimental dance battle.

About Freespace
Freespace – Hong Kong’s new centre for contemporary performance in the heart of the West Kowloon Art Park – presents multi-genre performances and events, produces boundary-pushing collaborations, and promotes new ways of seeing and experiencing performance. Partnering with emerging and established artists from Hong Kong and around the world, Freespace nurtures diverse creative voices and bring works that challenge and redefine the role of performing arts for our age.
Getting to Freespace:

Hank Willis Thomas at Ben Brown Fine Arts Hong Kong

Don’t let Money Change You 

Sep 21 – Oct 31, 2020

Ben Brown Fine Arts 
202 The Factory
1 Yip Fat Street
Wong Chuk Hang

Ben Brown Fine Arts is proud to present Hank Willis Thomas’s Don’t Let Money Change You at the Hong Kong gallery. This is the artist’s third solo exhibition with Ben Brown Fine Arts, following his highly acclaimed shows in London, The Beautiful Game, 2017, and Hong Kong, My Life is Ours, 2018. Don’t Let Money Change You will bring together a new body of work from Thomas’s innovative retroreflective series, depicting serial imagery of international currencies in bold monochromes.

Tobe Kan Kiu Sin 簡喬倩

By John Batten /

Tobe Kan Kiu Sin graduated from the Hong Kong Art School/RMIT University with a fine arts degree in 2017. It was a fortuitous education: she had previously applied to but was not accepted into Hong Kong’s two other established fine arts undergraduate programmes, at The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Baptist University’s Academy of Visual Arts. Undoubtedly, the art school’s programme was more suitable for her. Kan’s fellow students were not all fresh secondary school graduates, but similar to her: a bit more mature – she was born in 1984 – with some work experience and a thoughtful commitment to the self-financed study of visual art.

Tobe Kan Kiu Sin. Photo: John Batten

Initially enrolled in the sculpture stream of the course, she immediately moved to painting, where her mentors included Art School teacher and artist Ivy Ma and alumni artist Carol Lee Mei Kuen, with Lee curating Kan’s first solo exhibition, Peck-eyes Ravens, at the studio of CL3 Architects in 2018.

Kan grew up in Hong Kong’s Fanling and Kwun Tong districts and went to a “nice, not competitive” secondary school. Her first works were little handmade books and zines, cobbled together with a school friend using Photoshop. In 2005, she completed an associate degree in design at City University of Hong Kong, with a strong interest in animation and anime. Kan is a classically solid designer, with clean lines and a modernist approach.

The move from designer to visual artist is never smooth. It requires a mind shift. The difference is often stated as: a designer works for a client, whereas an artist works for themselves. The visual artist is challenged by her own limitations, a designer by the limitations of a client. The visual artist can make mistakes and has the chance to learn, experiment and set personal challenges. Kan has embraced being a designer by day and an artist at all other times.

After graduating she worked in design. Then, in 2011, she lived in Berlin for a year, working as an intern in two independent design studios. This experience was life defining. The design director at one of the studios encouraged Kan to explore her personal creativity. Her time in Berlin and travelling in Europe, visiting museums and experiencing other creative approaches, encouraged her to consider developing her non-design creativity. On her return to Hong Kong in 2012 she shared a studio in Fo Tan with her friend Cheryl Chow and artists Cheung Wai-man and Ho Sin Tung. This supportive, hard-working environment gave Kan an introduction to a working artists’ studio, and advice on technique and materials to develop her own painting and drawing. It also solidified her ambition to begin formal visual art studies. I remember seeing, at that time, the small, intimate landscape paintings she had done as a student exercise. They displayed a mature grasp of technique and an aesthetic sensitivity unusual for an undergraduate.

Mountain oh mountain I by Tobe Kan Kiu Sin, Coloured pencil and tape on paper, 138.5 x 88 cm, 2016.Courtesy the artist. 

The first inkling of Kan developing her own style was her brave choice to draw on brown-grey-greenish, rough, industrial wrapping paper. This dense base material complements the ideas seen in Kan’s early drawings, Hand, hand and hands and Take over, overtake (both 2015), using masking tape, pencils and pastels – forerunners of the mixed-media drawings seen in her first solo exhibition. Personal loss, depression within her family and sadness underlie much of Kan’s current work – but little, actually, is revealed about herself. If you meet her, she dresses in severe black from head to toe, but is far from black-hearted: she exudes care and humanity. Likewise, her art: it is, for want of a genre, expressionist and deals with psychological ups and downs, an Edvard Munch approach, rather than a razor-blade-nihilist, dead-end one; her work is uplifting and thought-provoking. A series of large landscape and collage drawings, Mountain oh mountain I, II and III (2016), depict sad, prone sleeping or comatose figures lying, almost camouflaged, across mountain and deep valley landscape scenes. The physical landscape with figures blending into the surroundings serves as a psychological mind map that Kan explains in a poem she wrote as, “The suffering of others is like a mountain. / Never will you get over it. / Never will you bear it. / The most painful torture is one’s imagination of others’ trauma.”

I like that Kan is prepared to venture outside her chosen core media of painting and drawing into sculpture and previously video. Her mixed-media medicine cabinet, Myrrh (No medicine) (2016), contains bottles and mixtures of medicine, including anti-depression drugs, fabricated in paper with hand-written signage by Kan. But myrrh, the medicinal resin, given to the newly born Jesus by the Three Wise Men, when spoken, sounds like the Cantonese for “no medicine”. Kan uses this cross-linguistic absurdity to show a lighter approach in her art, and a Chinese appreciation of mental illness. Always tackling serious topics, Kan sums up her medicine cabinet: “I am not a Christian, just attracted by the homonym of myrrh in Chinese. There are too many incurable things in the world. If there is no medicine to heal, only self-help could reduce this suffering.” 

Kan’s kinetic, sculptural lightboxes, housed in top-opening wooden boxes, were exhibited at her CL3 studio exhibition. She used a series of her own drawings transformed into moving images by a pre-cinema stroboscopic moving-image device known as a phenakistiscope. Le Mal, Double (and Hallucination) I/II/III (2018) can be viewed on her website: birds are flying, eyes are opening and closing, and the moon is viewed quickly changing through its phases. Her drawings and the resulting kinetic images are inspired by movies, including Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963). They are a mystical metaphor for the artist’s age and the month and day of her mother’s birth.

Le Mal Double I by Tobe Kan Kiu Sin, Coloured pencil on paper, 30 x 30cm, 2018.Courtesy the artist. 

Kan’s recent paintings take a new, evolving turn, using oil pastel on canvas, rather than paint, which she considers to be “too watery / too abstract”. These were exhibited at Gallery Exit in late 2019, and this year at In the course of Dancing, from Nightfall to Darkness, a group exhibition at the Hong Kong Arts Centre. Kan takes reference photographs of trees and patchy undergrowth, close to her current studio and Chai Wan’s cemeteries and parks. These are transformed on canvas, reimagined, depicted as lone trees, pot plants or dense, verdant foliage – usually in a tight choice of colours or black and white. Hong Kong’s political and social unrest during the past 12 months is pervasive and Kan’s heartfelt reaction has affected these lush paintings. Her Awake series of paintings have been impressively scaled up in size and now shimmer in a tantalising tone: an iridescent aqua blue. However, her choice for paintings in beautiful shades of blue consciously reflects Hong Kong’s late summer 2019 protests, dominated by jets of blue-coloured, pepper-infused water fired from water cannon trucks aggressively used by police to disburse street protesters. This blue-dyed water stained everything it touched. Aimed directly at people, it stained blue the surrounding concrete streets, grass, trees and, notoriously, the Kowloon Mosque on Nathan Road.

Kan has quickly leapfrogged from raw student to accomplished artist developing impressive visual ideas of complexity, maturity, sensitivity and political nuance. Her painted forests of trees are metaphors for groups of Hong Kong protesters – covered in blue dye, eyes and skin stinging, their breath constricted, their voices pleading: “I can’t breathe.”

*This essay was written in the weeks after African-American George Floyd died on 25 May 2020 in Minneapolis, USA after a policeman held Floyd’s neck down with his knee as Floyd pleaded, “I can’t breathe.” His suffocation triggered protests across the USA and in major cities around the world. Similar criticism of overly aggressive, violent policing has dogged the police throughout the 2019-2020 protests in Hong Kong.






Awake 3 by Tobe Kan Kiu Sin, Oil pastel on canvas, 180 x 140cm, 2019.Courtesy the artist. 


簡氏首次呈現了獨有風格的端倪,是在她勇敢地選擇了在咖啡/灰綠色的工業用粗燥包裝紙上作畫。這種密度大的基底材質襯托了簡氏在2015年的早期作品《手.手.手》和《Take over, overtake》上所表達的意念,她運用了縐紋膠紙、鉛筆和粉彩,是首次個展混合媒體畫作的先行作品。




簡氏近期的繪畫作品出現了新的演進轉變。她在畫布上以油粉彩而不是油彩作畫。因為她認為油彩「太水性/太抽象」。這些作品於2019年年底在Exit安全口 ,以及今年於香港藝術中心的聯展「愈 ‧ 夜舞」中展出。簡氏參考了樹木和零碎灌木的照片,這些影像來自她現時工作室附近和柴灣的墳場和公園。她把影像轉移到畫布上,經過重新想像,刻劃成孤立的樹木、盆栽又或是茂密青葱的葉子——通常只以有限的色彩或黑白兩色呈現。香港過去12個月經歷的政治和社會動盪遍地開花,而簡氏感同身受的回應也影響了這些草木畫作。她的《甦生》畫作系列把比例放大,令人印象難忘,現在以耀目誘人的調子表達:閃閃發亮的海藍色。然而,她在畫中選用的美麗藍色色調卻是刻意反映香港2019年夏末的連場示威。作品中的藍色,正是警方強攻驅散街上示威者時所用、加入了胡椒噴霧的水炮車藍色水柱。這種染藍的水沾污了所有被它碰過的東西。因為它對準人,周圍的石屎街道、草、樹,還有眾所周知,位於彌敦道的九龍清真寺,統統都被染成藍色。



Aftershock: Essays from Hong Kong

ed. Holmes Chan / Published by Small Tune Press, 2020 / Jacqueline Leung /  

The cover is a photograph of an ordinary pavement in Hong Kong: to fill in the holes where old bricks had been dug up by protesters, concrete was poured to ensure it couldn’t happen again, creating uneven surfaces that look like hastily patched-up scars. In the year-long discord that has rocked the city to its core, Hong Kong has not been given space to heal. Newspapers and commentators have covered the protests extensively, but their words are analytical, aiming to explain and speculate about the city’s future, while readers at home, particularly those whose realities are built on the English language, struggle to find representations of months of disenfranchised grief.

Not enough has been written about Hong Kong’s trauma in the past year, and Aftershock: Essays from Hong Kong is one of the publications starting to fill that gap. Edited by Holmes Chan, the collection features essays by 11 young journalists reporting for multiple news outlets – one contributor was doxxed by mainland Chinese netizens and remains anonymous, their name and biography a blank stretch of black. For some others, it is the first time they have expressed how they personally feel, published and in print, beyond their day-to-day bylines.

Through an essentially journalistic lens, the collection recounts experiences on the ground and in newsrooms as its writers navigate the current state of the city. Given this focus, Aftershock is able to get at issues of representation and the processes by which the movement is distorted or effaced. Taiwanese writer Hsiuwen Liu’s piece, about how Taiwan’s support is propagated by narratives of scaremongering and threat to the island’s autonomy, best encapsulates the struggle to define Hong Kong as it is to readers abroad: “Without the idea of ‘today Hong Kong, tomorrow Taiwan’, could people in my homeland still relate to the place I now call home?”

Even in Hong Kong, the task of unwrapping the protests is becoming increasingly difficult, not because they’re still happening, but because the authorities have long since given up on logical debate, opting to spin their own version of events to legitimise the use of force. With state misconduct glossed over, we are left reeling to defend the validity of our shared knowledge. As Chan describes in his own essay, to write about Hong Kong’s plight is to participate in a duel between adversaries: “The strength of the reality you propose does not depend on its resemblance to the world; it is measured only against the strength of the alternate reality coming from your opponent.”

Many of the essays in Aftershock gravitate toward pivotal events, such as the sieges at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the death of student Chow Tsz-lok, because they represent when lines have been crossed and when Hong Kong hurt the most. By putting into words the incidents as they were seen and experienced, writers get at the essence of the transgressions, which is constantly being buried by new information and fresh wounds. Aftershock carries no answers to the city’s crisis; that is not its task. Rather, the book offers a safe space for its writers to find expression for others and for themselves, knowing their realities are taken to be true and will resonate with those who have also grieved.

Violence pervades each of the narratives. Sum Lok-kei examines the sheer absurdity of the invasion of his home as the police attacked Chinese University, where he resides, with hundreds of rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets. Rachel Cheung recalls the silencing of protesters’ trauma in the newsroom under the pretext of impartial coverage. Jessie Pang looks back on an interview with Chow Tsz-lok’s friend who was giving free hugs at his university atrium, who broke down and cried as he spoke.

These tribulations are paired with moments of melancholic tenderness, like when students from a local girls’ college fit protective goggles and hard hats over their cheongsam uniforms to rally, or when an office worker rolls up his sleeves to dig up bricks from the pavement, or the steadfastness of a district councillor, who served his community for years through efforts largely unnoticed before he was even elected to office. Gathering over hotpot, friends broach the subject of emigration, revealing the different stakes at play as people imagine alternative homes or the lack thereof.

When Hong Kong’s struggle is remembered, what comes to mind will depend in part on what has been written about it. In English—a language so intricately tangled with Hong Kong’s identity, which speaks to those at home while allowing others to listen in—Aftershock tells stories of a city existing beyond headlines of fire and smoke, reclaiming territory for its people as they guard their remaining freedoms and memories of all that has transpired.

《 Aftershock: Essays from Hong Kong 》
編輯:Holmes Chan
出版社:Small Tune Press, 2020年
Jacqueline Leung  


過去一年描寫香港創傷的報導不多,而《Aftershock: Essays from Hong Kong》就是其中一本填補這空白的書籍。本書由Holmes Chan編輯,收錄了11位來自不同傳媒機構的年輕記者的文章。其中一位撰稿人因被大陸網民「起底」而隱姓埋名,姓名與簡介只由一片黑色代表。對其他作者來說,這是他們第一次以出版和印刷的形式實在地表達自己的個人感受,超出日常的工作範疇。


即使在香港,再展開示威活動已經變得越來越困難,不是因為活動仍在進行,而是因為政府早已放棄了作出合理的辯論,選擇編造自己的版本來令武力合理化。隨著政府不斷掩蓋自己的不當行為,我們被迫捍衛我們所看到的真相。正如Holmes Chan.在自己的文章中所述,要寫出香港的困境就要投入與對手的鬥爭:「你提出的現實的力量並不取決於與其他人所說的有多相似,而是在於對手拿出多少力量去塑造另類現實來跟你抗衡。」


每個故事中都充斥著暴力的場面。沈諾基指出了警察襲擊他居住的中文大學時用上數百枚催淚彈和橡膠子彈的荒謬;Rachel Cheun.憶起報社以「持平」為藉口,壓制了抗爭者創傷的聲音;Jessie Pang回顧與周梓樂友人的訪問,該友人當時在大學中庭向在場人士送上擁抱,受訪時崩潰淚下。




Virginia Overton at White Cube Hong Kong

Alone in the Wilderness 

Sep 11 – Nov 14, 2020

White Cube
1/F, 50 Connaught Road Central
Hong Kong

In her first solo exhibition in Asia, Virginia Overton presents new sculptures and works on paper. In this body of work the artist explores the histories embedded in certain materials, and the narratives and value systems that are created when these materials are appropriated, revived and re-contextualized.

Overton’s sculptures are made from objects and elements she comes across in her immediate environment, her choices and working process driven by what she has described as the ‘natural push and pull in materials’. She selects materials that are part ready-mades, altering their purpose and function through a shift in perspective or orientation. As with so much of her work, the materials used in this exhibition have had other lives before taking on a life as artwork. 

For this new series of sculptures Overton has reassembled aluminium letters and logos salvaged from the names and signs adorning the facades of high-rise corporate buildings.

Shown alongside the sculptures are a new series of works on paper, made of cut-up adhesive vinyl lettersets spliced back together and glued onto paper.

In both the sculptures and works on paper, geometry is employed to create a tension that seems to run counter to the inherent qualities of the materials. She uses this carefully balanced tension to explore the poetic potential of the works, as in Untitled (Tiger’s eye)(2019), which is made up of fragments of red signage that have been configured to form an almost perfect square with an oval-shaped void at its centre. This sculptural relief, composed of imperfect off-cuts, resolves into a harmonious whole, achieving an equilibrium that not only brings the viewer’s attention to its materiality – its curves, blemishes and weathered texture – but equally, to the space which the work both occupies and displaces. By appropriating the mechanisms of a capitalist society, the object now ‘spins off in an entirely new direction’.

Virginia Overton was born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1971 and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Solo exhibitions include Socrates Sculpture Park, New York (2018); Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson, Arizona (2017); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2016); The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut (2016); Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami (2014); Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster, Germany (2013); Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland (2013); The Power Station, Dallas, Texas (2013); and The Power House, Memphis, Tennessee (2007). Group exhibitions include Front Triennial, Cleveland (2018); Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, Michigan (2017); and Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2016).

Ren Sihong at Whitestone Gallery Hong Kong


Sep 5 – Oct 3, 2020
Opening: Saturday, Sep 5, 4 – 7pm

Whitestone Gallery 
7- 8/F H Queen’s
80 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong 

Whitestone Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of Ren Sihong, one of the most prominent Chinese artists who were born in the 1960s and have flourished since the late 1980s, significantly shaping China’s contemporary art history. The exhibition will showcase the artist’s works created in the last three years, the ‘Black and White’ series which started in 2017, ‘Value of Colors’, started in 2018, and ‘Spirit of Flowers’, started early this year during the pandemic period. Stepping away from his previous style, Ren has adopted an expressionist and abstract way of painting his recent works and hopes to enlighten the viewers through this intriguing energy.  

Born in 1967 in Hebei, Ren Sihong found his talent in painting when he was young, and therefore enrolled in Oil Painting Department in Hebei Normal University and later on continued his study in Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. After graduation, he became one of the residential artists at the Old Summer Palace (Yuan Ming Yuan), the earliest artist village in China’s modern history (1989 – 1995), representing the most avant-garde and experimental spirits at that time. As Yuan Ming Yuan was removed, the artists had to find new places to establish their studios, various art villages and districts, such as Song Zhuang and 798 have been developed across the city of Beijing, and in 2006, Ren Sihong moved into No.1 International Art District. Like many artists who were born in the ‘60s, Ren experienced social movements that held collectivism and socialism at heart, therefore he tended to express his experiences and memories with a humorous, grotesque, and sarcastic approach. His oil paintings were selected for the 3rd Annual Exhibition of Chinese Oil Painting in 1995, and his work of sculptures were shown at ‘Voice of the Unseen’ exhibition at Venice Biennale in 2013. 

Ren Sihong’s creative practices are continuously evolving. Every time he starts a new series, he has the urge to let go of what he used before and fight against old habits in order to create something different. The year of 2017 was a turning point for the artist, as his father passed away. Due to the great loss of his beloved father, Ren lost interest in shapes and colors, he dived into black and white as well as a “formless” way to paint. For him, it is as if walking through time, and resonating with the ups and downs. He is fascinated by the ‘void’ in black and white, believing that valuing simplicity can achieve more. Gradually he has healed himself through painting and has become stronger than ever.

“In 2017, my soul lost its shines, just like the love that all beings have always had is gone. I’m all alone, but I don’t want to be lonely…I walked towards the universe, towards formlessness, and saw how time operated, as well as the new time and space and the light that is set to come. My soul is led by instinct, I see more clearly with my heart, understand my nature, and fulfill my wishes. Without the Degenerate Age, there is no future.”

– Ren Sihong

Andy Li, Stanley Shum, Sean Wong, Ho Sin Tung, Oscar Chan Yik Long, and Chloe Cheuk at Goethe-Institut Hongkong


Sep 3 – Oct 3, 2020

Opening: Thursday, Sep 3, 7pm Online

Goethe-Gallery and Black Box Studio
Goethe-Institut Hongkong
14/F Hong Kong Arts Centre
2 Harbour Road, Hong Kong

Goethe-Institut Hongkong is presenting a series of programmes on the topic of “Civil Society, Arts and Mental Balance” in this September and October. To kick off the programme series, the exhibition Tongueless will open with an artist talk on Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 7pm on Goethe-Institut Hongkong’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

The artworks by six Hong Kong artists take a multitude of forms, exude a kind of rawness and authenticity which heightened the individuality of each person’s journey. The exhibition serves to be the vehicle for self-expression that allows someone else a tiny glimpse into another world. The artworks demand engagement and draw attention to often otherwise silenced issues, experiences or perspectives. Through the exhibition, the audience is invited to experience elements of mental issues for themselves.

Guided Tours

Friday, Sep 4, 4 – 5pm
With curator KY Wong and artist Sean Wong

Due to the government social distancing measures, limited number of visitors will be admitted at a time. For groups of three or more visitors please make a reservation for the guided tour by writing to:

The tour will be live-streamed on Goethe-Institut Hongkong’s Facebook and Instagram pages. If you do not wish to be filmed, please inform our staff at the venue. Thank you very much for your kind cooperation.

Saturday, Sep 19, 4 – 5pm
With curator KY Wong and artist Ho Sin Tung

Due to the government social distancing measures, limited number of visitors will be admitted at a time. For groups of three or more visitors please make a reservation for the guided tour by writing to:

The tour will be live-streamed on Goethe-Institut Hongkong’s Facebook and Instagram pages. If you do not wish to be filmed, please inform our staff at the venue. Thank you very much for your kind cooperation.

Jaromír Novotný at Axel Vervoordt Gallery, Hong Kong

Just a Narrow Range of Possible Things

Sep 5 – Nov 7, 2020
Opening: Saturday, Sep 5, 11am – 7pm

Axel Vervoordt Gallery
21 F, Coda Designer Centre
62 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Hong Kong

Axel Vervoordt Gallery is pleased to present the second solo exhibition by Jaromír Novotný (°1974, Český Brod, Czechoslovakia) in the Hong Kong location. The exhibition invites visitors to experience the silent and seemingly monochrome creations, which, through the use of colour and materiality, enable the power of memory and remembrance. 

In modern days, there’s a strong tendency to rely only on what is seen. The act and ability to see may result in an illusion or misconception of things and situations. However, Novotný’s works and his creative process gently reminds viewers that human intuition has great potential, perhaps more than may be realised. The word ‘tactile’ was derived from Latin for ‘that may be touched, tangible’. It refers to the physical act of feeling; the experience of touching – for example, the skin. Novotný’s work bears the traces of the human hand and presents itself as a skin around the frame, or a membrane that blocks certain aspects or sensations of vision while allowing others. 

Novotný creates his works using acrylic on polyester organza, stretched on a wooden frame. The paper and canvas inserts and threads on the reverse of the painting lead to a great sensitivity. This notion of bare presence conveys that Novotný uses painting as a medium to solidify his artistic vision. The work’s tactility invites viewers to “feel” rather than “see” them. As a result, Novotný’s creative process allows the exploration of the painting’s perception and inherent purity. The experience with the work reveals the essence of painting. 

Because the artist’s hand is visible, so is the process of creation. Novotný presents his painting as a medium; his medium as a subject. Thus, subject and object are merged. As a result, he rejects conceptual and formal interpretations. While American Abstract Expressionists and Minimalists, such as Willem de Kooning and Donald Judd, add excess of paint onto the canvas or remove the human touch from painting completely as their forms of expression, Novotny creates emptiness by omitting certain aspects from his works. As a result of uncovering conditions of painting, Novotny’s work is an eloquent but enigmatic form of transparency. 

Although the connections with American twentieth-century art and Novotný’s works are interesting; those with the art that was created in China at the time are perhaps even more so. In the twentieth century, in line with Taoism and the Chan (Zen) school of Buddhism, increasing attention was paid to the philosophical concept of emptiness and the void in a painting. “I do my utmost to attain emptiness; I hold firmly to stillness. The myriad creatures all rise together, and I watch their return,” Lao Tzu wrote centuries ago. Empty space is treated as solid space: “Knowing the white, retaining the black, it is the form of the world.” 

Novotný’s approach to empty and solid space leans towards this. About his work, Novotný once said: “Black as the foundation, white as the lightest shade of black”. Synthetic organza came into his oeuvre when he was looking for transparent textiles that could replace the canvas; it transcends the material and makes it a degree whiter. The elements behind it become more diffuse in a certain way; faded by the washed-out contours.

The things considered in emptiness in Chinese landscape painting are the same as those associated with phenomena of nature – fog, sky, clouds – elements of limited visibility clear up for those who physically move in it; those who spread their attention and imagination. 

In Chinese painting, however, the true mystery of emptiness lies in the concept of the qi, the term that refers to the living energy of the work. Without qi, the work is lifeless; qidetermines whether a work is perceived statically or dynamically. It stems from the inner self of the artist, as a result of his interaction with material and technique. It is, to rephrase what was said before, the medium to solidify the ephemera of his artistic vision. 

Novotný points out that the assumptions with which viewers look at a painting, as being determined by memory and the underlying meanings of the (re-)presentation. The perception of the work is based on the notion of reappearance, although the creation of the work itself is also limited to certain constraints. 

For Novotný’s works, recurrence can be conducive to creative solutions. With the act of recurrences – with which Novotný experiments a repetition of making units, leaving empty fields, and creating a trace of execution – he can aspire or eventually reach out to boundless limitations. Viewers then may feel his perception towards the paintings and witness his progressions appeared as recurrences. His ongoing quest orbits like a constant circle within the world. The world, in which qi is an enigmatic power. 

Lo Lai Lai Natalie 勞麗麗

By Christie Lee /

For city-dwellers, it’s easy to romanticise nature. William Wordsworth, who witnessed how the industrial revolution transformed London in the 19th century, for example, wrote such evocative lines as “nature never did betray the heart that loved her”.

Three centuries later, Lo Lai Lai Natalie has made rumination on nature a crucial part of her art. But unlike the English poet, she doesn’t romanticise it. For Lo, nature isn’t simply an object for humans to cast an admiring eye on or to destroy. It also exercises its own agency – and can create or kill, oblivious to what humans imagine it to be. This idea is captured in Like a stone, vain hope (2020), a three-minute video-art piece where a woman interrogates a plant, trying to tease out responses in vain.

Holding nature up as a mirror for mankind, Lo’s photography, videos and installations reflect on a myriad of topics, from survival and supply chains to religion and freedom. But the artist is also hyper-aware of her own limitations in articulating nature – “after all, I’m a human being”.

The voice, or lack thereof, is central to Lo’s work, manifested in farmers, ripples in paddy fields, insects and plants. While silence is often regarded as the language of the oppressed, it is perhaps not so much a form of resistance in Lo’s works as a way to constitute selves.

A fine arts graduate of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Lo is at once an artist, farmer and former journalist. She is an active member of Sangwoodgoon (“life hall”), a farming collective born out of the anti-Hong Kong Express Rail Link movement in 2009-10.

Lo Lai Lai Natalie. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Xin Li.

Christie Lee: You became a travel journalist after graduating with a fine arts degree from Chinese University. What drew you to journalism? Lao Lai Lai Natalie: I didn’t want to become an artist as I found it too restrictive. For me, travelling provides an opportunity to see new things, meet new people, but if you ask, do I like travelling? Hmmm, I don’t think so, not compared to my travel journalist friends, who genuinely enjoy being on the road all the time. That’s why I quit. I’m more interested in critiquing the act of travelling – what it means, why people romanticise it. Later, I extended that to looking at the ways people romanticise the agrarian life.

CL: What about you – have you ever romanticised the agrarian life? LLLN: I don’t think so. It wasn’t that I had a negative impression of it, but I also understand the challenge. I never thought: as long as we find a way to farm locally, the city could become entirely sustainable.

CL: When and why did you start farming? LLL: It wasn’t a deliberate decision; things sort of came together. When I quit my journalism job in 2010, I wanted to volunteer at an arts festival, but that fell apart. A friend then asked if I wanted to be involved in Choi Yuen Tsuen [a village located on the site of the Hong Kong Express Rail Link] farm experiment. 

I thought, why not? Now, I find myself increasingly valuing the companionship offered by nature. I don’t agree that nature is this heroic figure that towers over the little man – I think it’s more, how should we find a way to coexist? The more we interact with nature, the more we see our limitations. Nature adapts very quickly, which, to me, trumps man’s inflexibility. For example, it knows what kinds of vegetables thrive in what kind of season, but we always insist on eating out-of-season vegetables. My art explores this dilemma of coexistence.

Silent karaoke – Goodbye Hong Kong by Lo Lai Lai Natalie, Still, HD single channel video, 2017. Courtesy the artist. 

CL: What’s your view of this attempt to control nature? LLLN: At Sangwoodgoon, we don’t subscribe to the idea of greenhouses, as permaculture [the idea of working with different natural elements to create a self-sustaining system] is such a core part of our philosophy.

CL: Do you see yourself as part of the agricultural industry? LLLN: I’m not sure. For many people, to turn something into an industry, one must scale up. But that is contrary to our philosophy, which is about self-sustainbility.  

CL: What is your goal as a farmer? LLLN: I hope more people will realise how deeply connected mankind is to the land. I’m not saying, alright, everyone should become a farmer, but as a farmer I want to provide that avenue for others to realise that connection.

CL: There are so many ways one can talk about local farming and the agricultural industry. What does the visual medium offer? LLLN: Ambiguity. I’m not a campaigner. If you’re advocating for something, there’s inevitably going to be some elements of propaganda involved. It’s not my nature. Art allows more room for reflection.

CL: What is your creative process like? LLLN: It’s quite organic. I take photos, I write, but I don’t immediately know that I’d like to make art out of [the material produced]. I think the act of creating a piece of art is very different from growing vegetables. As a farmer, once you’re in the field, you really have to adapt to natural conditions, be it the soil or the weather. You need to be constantly making these decisions. You’re working alongside nature to create something. I think that creativity is crucial, which is very different from the creativity that one would normally associate with the visual arts. 

CL: Could you elaborate a bit more on the difference between creativity in the field and creativity in the studio? LLLN: Sometimes, I feel I think too much when I’m making art. Intuition is key to art but there is also a lot of thought that goes behind it, philosophical and otherwise. There is a lot of us in the art. When I’m in the field, I feel like I’m participating, but somehow nature just has a way of transforming itself. Nature is very intelligent – it has its own mode of functioning. We boast that we’re making all these advances in medicine, in science, but none of that is applicable in the field. Our way of communicating, of expressing ourselves, is actually quite limiting.

CL: I suppose you have to let go of your artistic ego when you’re farming? LLLN: You can still exercise your ego. I mean, you can aspire to grow the best vegetables, have the best fields [laughs]. But yes, I suppose that is one way of looking at it. There are too many variables in the field. A shrub might grow a certain way because of the care you put into it, but it could also be the soil conditions. You can never really claim successes in the field as your own. When you’re creating art, you’re serving first and foremost your own ego.

CL: What are you showing at the forthcoming group exhibition at Oi! art space? LLLN: The work is about fermented beets. I want to talk about the space the beets take up – that transition from raw state, when it was on the farm, to its fermented state, shrunken, in a jar.

Say no words but mum by Lo Lai Lai Natalie, Installation view at Eaton Hong Kong. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Xin Li.


三百年後,反思自然成了勞麗麗藝術創作中的重要元素。但與之前提到的英國詩人不同的是,她並未將其浪漫化。在她眼中,自然不單單只是人類用以大飽眼福亦或是去毀滅的一樣東西,它也有其自發性。大自然會創造也能扼殺,而且並不理會人類對其作出的想像。這一想法體現在三分鐘錄影作品《Like a stone, vain hope》(2020年)中:一個女人對著一株植物質問,徒勞地想尋求回應。









Silent karaoke – Taste Of Freedom by Lo Lai Lai Natalie, Still, HD single channel video, 2017. Courtesy the artist.