Writing's on the wall for Hong Kong artists

Writing's on the wall for Hong Kong artists

HONG KONG — Artists in Asia’s most colourful city have taken to the streets and are painting the town red — and blue and purple and every colour of the rainbow. And by doing so, they’ve unwittingly created the world’s largest and most interesting outdoor art museum.

Talk about live art.

Their paintings and murals, which are showcased in the narrow streets, hidden alleyways and outdoor staircases leading off Hollywood Road in Central District, have become one of the biggest tourists attractions in Hong Kong.

Their canvas? The walls of the neighbourhood buildings — interestingly enough, some of those buildings house the chic art shops and galleries that this area is renowned for.

It’s pure eye candy — especially for millennials, who have seen the wall art used as backdrops in fashion shoots and music videos.

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Above: The wall art is used in many Asian music videos and fashion shoots and attracts lots of tourists  from Korea and Japan.


“Please take our picture, mister,” one giggling Japanese teenager pleads with me as she and her friends dash across Graham St. to pose in front of the most popular of the paintings — a massive work that adorns the wall of a townhouse. It was painted by local artist Alex Croft and stretches half the length of the hilly street.

The narrow sidewalks of Hollywood Road, one of the city’s oldest streets, are always crammed now with tourists searching for the eclectic works, and that creates challenges for the taxi and lorry drivers who have to navigate around the visitors, many of whom stand in the middle of the busy traffic street to photograph the paintings.

The quality of the murals is indeed impressive — worthy of hanging in the nearby Hong Kong Museum of Art. Some are provocative, others whimsical. What some might call graffiti, others, myself included, call masterpieces. One even pays homage to Hong Kong’s favourite son, actor Bruce Lee — it resides in a staircase between Hollywood Road and Square St. and was painted by Korean artist Xeva. 

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Above: Some of the street art honours famous people like Bruce Lee while others can be creative and out of this world.


Because most of the paintings are hard to find, walking tours have been organized along Hollywood Road, which is dominated by pencil-straight highrises. This area of Central is favoured by expats, whom I see sitting at numerous outdoor cafés nursing their tonic and gins, reminiscing about home, while a soccer game plays out on the television above their heads.

You can’t miss the largest of the works — a tribute to legendary American entertainers, including Frank Sinatra and Marylin Monroe. It stands three-storeys high and wraps around a building on Hollywood Road. 

Most of the murals are painted by a local group, HKWalls. However, the most beautiful, in my estimation, is the imaginative “gold fish staircase” painted by Korean artist Lee Tao-ho, which resides in the PMQ, the former Police Married Quarters barracks. The whitewashed PMQ now houses the studious of some of Hong Kong’s most promising artists and designers. 

Another crowd pleaser is the colourful mural that covers the front of the Brooklyn Bar and Grill on Stuanton St. 

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Left: The famed Hollywood Road area of Hong Kong is where most of the wall art can be found. Right: Tourists go out of their way to find the wall art.


INFORMATION:

• Air Canada and Cathay Pacific offer daily direct flights to Hong Kong from several Canadian cities.

• When visiting Hong Kong, the best place to stay in Hong Kong is the Mandarin Oriental Landmark Hotel in Central or the boutique Pottinger Hotel. 

• Tour East Holidays has many tours to Hong Kong. For more, go to  http://www.toureast.com

 

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