If you believe Hong Kong is a cultural desert when it comes to visual arts, think again. From the heart of the city to the nooks and the crannies, there’s art everywhere in our metropolis as long as you know where to look for it. You can find works by established and up-and-coming local and international artists working in everything from photography to street art at fine-art gallery hubs like H Queen’s and Pedder Building, as well as at institutions like Tai Kwun.
For a taste of the avant-garde, there are many independent art spaces that have popped up all over the city in recent years and there are some fantastic museums, including M+ Pavilion, to satisfy your culture cravings too. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a handy guide to the most interesting art hubs and neighbourhoods to help kick-off your journey as a bona fide culture vulture.
Hong Kong’s best art galleries
Aishonanzuka is one of the few galleries in Hong Kong that specialises in Japanese art. A collaboration between Japanese galleries Aisho Miura Arts and Nanzuka, Aishonanzuka features contemporary art by established and emerging artists from Japan who challenge norms by creating art that is both original and impactful. Expect names like Hajime Sorayama and Nobuyoshi Araki gracing the walls of this gallery.
The only art gallery in Hong Kong to specialise in African contemporary art – hence the name – this Sai Kung-based establishment paves the way for Hongkongers to interact and be exposed to exciting artists from the African continent. Encounter painters like Mulala Landry, who hails from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Bodo Fils, who’s known for his allegorical portraits. Founded by Michael Piette, AfricArt Gallery is here to help change things up in the Hong Kong art scene.
Aside from letting visitors appreciate stunning images with a glass of wine in hand, this indie gallery dedicated to Hong Kong photography also doubles as a retail space that offers prints at affordable prices. 10 percent of sale profits go towards local charities like ImpactHK.
With a primary focus on contemporary photography and image-based works in contemporary art, Blindspot Gallery is one of the largest gallery spaces in Hong Kong, located in the of booming art scene of Wong Chuk Hang. Representing and celebrating mainly emerging and established local artists, the gallery occasionally host exhibitions by artists from around the region as well.
Established in 2007, Blue Lotus Gallery is an independent gallery with a focus on the art of photography and works on paper by Hong Kong artists. Some of the gallery’s biggest achievements include the rediscovery of local artist Fan Ho and the publication of Marcel Heijnen’s popular Hong Kong Shop Cats. Start here to discover the next big thing in Hong Kong photography.
It’s easy to find Carre D’Artistes – it’s on Hollywood Road, right where that giant pop-art mural featuring icons like Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin is. Much like its sister gallery YellowKorner just across the street, Carre D’Artistes allows you to browse through and take home paintings and prints that are presented in rows of shelves like a vinyl record store, or admire framed works and sculptures dotted around the gallery.
Think of it as a commune for creative minds, Cattle Depot Artist Village is Hong Kong’s most unique artistic hub with 20 art organisations and studios that call it home. The colonial red-brick site alone is like a masterpiece, repurposed in 2001 from a former slaughterhouse. Arguably the most prominent resident here is Videotage, a Unesco-listed art organisation that focuses on new-media work on subjects from local living conditions to food culture. Similarly, 1a Space Gallery is dedicated to showcasing a diverse range of large-scale installations. As expected, the exhibitions here are nothing short of spectacular.
Originally founded in Paris in 1997, Hong Kong’s de Sarthe Gallery is an impressive 9,820sq ft art space that represents and exhibits a diverse spectrum of international artists, from important French impressionists to Asian and Western contemporary artists, as well as emerging talents too. The team at de Sarthe really knows how to utilise the space and presents some incredibly innovative exhibitions.
Located by Aberdeen Harbour in Tin Wan and founded by Stephen Cheng, Empty Gallery is a one-of-a-kind 3,000sq ft space. What sets this gallery apart is that it’s it’s almost pitch-black, like a cinema. Subverting the typical “white cube” concept of art galleries, this space aims to present immersive and interactive exhibitions that could lead to some kind of full sensory experience of he works displayed. Get ready to experience art at a whole new level.
Here to make Hong Kong’s reputation as Asia’s leading art hub an undisputable claim is H Queen’s. This purpose-built 24-storey vertical art space currently houses eight world-class art galleries. Since opening in 2018, the building has welcomed new additions to the Hong Kong scene, including the first Asian outpost of American fine-art gallery David Zwirner, notable Swiss gallery Hauser and Wirth and SA+, an auction house that specialises in South Korean and Japanese art. Established names in the local scene, such as Pearl Lam Galleries, Pace Gallery, Galerie Ora-Ora and Tang Contemporary Art, have also relocated to H Queen’s to take advantage of its massive venues, which aren’t hindered by columns and windows. Come here if you have a penchant for large-scale installations – and don’t forget to check out the Yayoi Kusama pumpkin housed at the rooftop bar and eatery, Piqniq.
Once a factory estate that housed the city’s cottage industries, this site was given a new lease on life as a creative hub in 2008. The space has also allowed experimental studios to thrive, including the likes of Floating Projects, a concept space where creatives collaborate and experiment on interdisciplinary principles. Another noteworthy establishment is Lumenvisum, a non-profit art organisation that showcases local photographers and their refreshing perspectives on topics spanning from relationships with domestic helpers to LGBTI life in Hong Kong.
Established in 2014, La Galerie strives to be a bridge between the east and the west by showcasing Asian and western artists such as André Villers and Wang Wusheng. Since photographic works tend to have more than one copy, photographs at La Galerie are more affordable than the average painting. Budding collectors can start here and own the same masterpieces as those displayed in museums.
In the lead-up to the grand opening of M+, Hong Kong's pioneering contemporary art museum, M+ Pavilion was opened in 2016 to serve as a platform to showcase the city's growing modern art community. Inside the sleek reflective architecture are a host of thematic shows curated by M+ exhibitors, as well as independent exhibitions created by local talents. These showcases at the pavilion provide an interesting insight into what to expect at the leading Asian art museum.
Arguably one of the best galleries in town for urban art, Over the Influence has featured a slew of talents, including the likes of Jerkface, Shepard Fairey and Cleon Peterson. The gallery places a strong focus on art that’s radical and influential, and often pushes viewers to expand their horizons with works that represent alternative and marginalised viewpoints.
Tai Nan Street in Sham Shui Po has become the stomping ground for many hipsters in recent years. Form Society, for example, often displays illustrations, multimedia and animation works by emerging local talents, and also hosts intimate artist talks. Late last year also saw the openings of Openground and Parallel Space. More than just a gallery with four walls to display art, the former is integrated with a café and bookstore, while the latter doubles up as a cultural workshop.
Para/Site is one of the most longstanding independent art institutions in Asia and continues to build on its success with countless free showcases for both emerging and established contemporary artists. Founded by seven artists as an artist-run space, Para/Site was Hong Kong's first venue for the expression of contemporary local art – particularly relevant at a time when the city was preparing for the handover. It produces exhibitions, publications and educational projects with an aim of forging a critical understanding of local and international forces in Hong Kong art and civil society.
The OG of art hubs in Hong Kong, this gorgeous Beaux Arts-style building is not only historically significant – it’s one of the city’s last remaining pre-WWII structures – but its tenants are some of the world’s top international galleries. These include Lehmann Maupin, a New York institution that’s staged exhibitions on everything from minimalism to surrealism; Gagosian Gallery, known for showcasing big names like Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Takashi Murakami; Massimo de Carlo, which highlights creatives from the Greater China region alongside classical masters from Europe; Ben Brown Fine Arts, where important artists from the contemporary and modern era grace its walls; as well as Hanart TZ Gallery (pictured), a pioneer when it comes to Chinese contemporary art.
Perrotin manages to take to the dryness out of fine art and inject plenty of fun into its exhibitions. Mixing urban cool with highbrow appreciation, Perrotin’s popular shows in the past have featured Kaws and his figurative characters, anime-inspired artworks by Mr., and Argentine master Julio Le Parc’s mind-bending op art and kinetic art.
To find works by Latin American and Spanish artists, there’s no better gallery than Puerta Roja. Pioneers and innovators like Carlos Cruz-Diez and Gladys Nistor have graced the walls at this Sai Ying Pun space. Discover the creative forces behind movements such as op and kinetic art, geometric abstraction and Mexican modernism.
Founded by mother-son duo Anna Maria and Fabio Rossi in 1985, Rossi & Rossi showcases both classical and contemporary Asian art. Works from India, the Himalayas and Southeast Asia can be found here, but the pair’s strongest passion is Tibetan art, both traditional and contemporary.
Since its much-talked-about opening in the summer of last year, the revitalised landmark has worked hard to bring world-class art exhibitions to its sprawling 13,600sq m site. Massive installations – including one featuring a three-metre latex ball covered in black felt and another showcasing structures made out of Chinese herbal medicine – have been presented here, along with themed shows, like one dedicated to Kwan Kung. There’s no limit to what kind of creativity you’ll be facing on your next visit.
The epitome of what a modern art gallery should look like, White Cube boasts 6,000sq ft of space, spanning two floors and encased in pristine white walls. It’s the perfect blank canvas to a wide range of artworks and innovative installations. Surprisingly quiet considering its locale, White Cube can transport you from the chaos of the city to the creative worlds of its artists – including Rachel Kneebone and Antony Gormley.