Work in Progress is an international street art exhibition featuring seven international and seven local artists. A vacant office space in Quarry Bay together with the building’s exterior and loading car park has been transformed with street art. It is the largest international street art exhibition in Hong Kong to date. Works include brilliant murals, sculptures and mixed media installations, and they will be revealed over the 2-month period at TaiKoo Place.
The exhibition is organised in collaboration with Above Second Gallery, Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation (HKYAF), Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and Swire Properties. There will also be workshops and classes for students, teachers, art and design professionals as well as the community at large to learn more about street art.
Work in Progress comes as a refreshing change to Hong Kong’s art scene, which one could rightfully argue to be starved of street-art. Our city is definitely on its way to becoming an international art hub, but there is so little of it to be seen outside the gallery nesting along Hollywood Road.
On my way to see the artwork, I couldn’t help but notice the strangeness of the venue. I walked through TaiKoo Place, surrounded by the sound of high heels clanking on the polished marble floor and the sight of smartly dressed office workers – somehow not the environment in which to be expecting street art. I couldn’t help but think, or rather, obsess about whether the choice of location was accidental or intentional for there is so much to be said about the juxtaposition of street art, a form of expression that portrays freedom, and offices, a confined space that may convey restriction.
The artworks itself were very impressive. Street art is captivating for its incredible detail and for its rawness. Galleries and museums are often restricting – the artwork is treated like it is fragile and viewers are made to tiptoe around masterpieces protected in glass boxes. Street art, on the other hand, has the charm of closeness; one can admire the details up close and then walk away to digest the whole picture.
Having a diverse range of international and local artists collaborate for this exhibition brought about an element of realism to the show. At every turn, one sees something drastically different, new and unexpected, which helped strengthen the ambience of street art. Besides the space, the artworks don’t share much in common in terms of underlying theme or technique.
I did wonder, is it street art if it is not technically on the street? It’s a seasoned topic of debate, but perhaps not worth arguing over too much in this case. To be fair, the exhibition begins on the car park level so it is street art in its true essence. In any case, I concluded it doesn’t matter whether the murals are indoors or outdoors. What matters most is that this exhibition marks a big step towards broadening the local art scene.