In the finite space of densely populated Hong Kong Island, there’s nowhere to build but up. Where other cities have gallery rows, this definitively vertical metropolis has gallery towers, where dealers are linked to their neighbors via stairwells and high-speed elevators.
In Central, the city’s financial district at the northern of the island, the number of blue-chip galleries has been growing year after year. Gagosian took up residence in the Pedder Building in 2011, and Pace opened at the nearby Entertainment building in 2014. The completion of the H Queens tower brought Hauser & Wirth, Zwirner, and a second Pace to the neighborhood in 2018. This year, Lévy Gorvy joined the mix, inaugurating its first space in Asia at the base of the St. George’s Building.
These galleries are conveniently stacked near Art Basel Hong Kong, making it relatively easy to see them all of it in one afternoon. Below, three shows not to miss—all with work by artists who are artists showing in Hong Kong for the first time.
1. “David Altmejd: The Vibrating Man” at White Cube
Presumably it’s the titular man who appears as both as a full-sized sculpture and a series of busts throughout the gallery’s two floors, his features having undergone a Cubist treatment and multiplied all over his body. The additional eyes and clusters of crystals embedded into his skin suggest either a spiritual ascension or nervous undoing; the multiple cigarettes he holds and the plumes of opaque smoke he exhales, plus the disembodied hands clawing grooves into the gallery wall, suggest the latter condition is more likely.
Mobiles, paintings, and soothing projections onto the ceiling survey the impressive array of different media that the celebrated kinetic artist has used to explore themes of color, motion, and light. According to Instagram, the show’s most popular work is the selfie-friendly installation Espace à pénétrer avec trame et miroir courbe (Variation du labyrinthe de 1963), 2019, a maze of mirrors and curved stripes that distorts and disorients.
3. “Louise Bourgeois: My Own Voice Wakes Me Up” at Hauser & Wirth
The usual gut-wrenching sentiments that Bourgeois was so adept at expressing—the phrase “EXTREME TENSION!” on paper, flanked by two hands trailing bloody fingerprints on either side, for example—are all here in her some of her trademark mediums, like drawings, paintings, and soft sculpture. But there are also less familiar inclusions, like holograms, which take the form of household images engulfed in red lighting, and very realistic-looking arms with pulsing veins, clutching and grabbing each other that are carved from pink marble.