Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

Dead Water Convulsion – Hong Kong – 1980s

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HONG KONG – 1980s

Josh Hon

Curated by Leung Chi Wo

July 6-23, 2016
Opening July 6 | 7pm
Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 12-5pm

Part of Dead Water Convulsion–Hong Kong–1980s will be exhibited at Centre A’s satellite location Centre B (1981 Main Street). Open Tuesday to Saturday, by appointment. Centre B is an exciting new Vancouver-based studio residency initiative realized through the generous collaboration of Mondivan.

In Dead Water Convulsion–Hong Kong–1980’s, Josh Hon looks back at the art and political scene of Hong Kong in the 1980s. Hon, as a pioneering artist of the 1980s left Hong Kong at the peak of his career to move to Hope, British Columbia, after the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989. Historically, many other Hong Kong citizens also left Hong Kong for North America at this time.

This exhibition, curated by leading Hong Kong contemporary artist Leung Chi Wo, presents a small selection of Hon’s works from the 1980s. It begins chronologically with an oversized oil and pastel painting, Where a Gentleman Won’t Stand Under (1981), one of the last pieces he created in the US before his return to Hong Kong in 1982. It also includes some of his video, installation and performance work from the late 80s, with Out of Context, an important experimental art project in Hong Kong during the 80s, along with other theatre and dance collectives that he worked with.

Hon developed his artistic practice alongside the socio-political change of Hong Kong during the 80s. His paintings, installations, video and performance translated forms, materials, text and gestures into enthusiastic expressions that reflected Hong Kong’s fraught socio-political climate and burgeoning art scene during the pre-handover years.

‘Hon’s art made in Hong Kong referred to the city, its people and himself for a particular time. For his departure from Hong Kong, it was unfortunate that not all of his works produced in Hong Kong could be preserved. By no means this exhibition can fully represent his diverse and myriad artistic practice. Hopefully a selection of his drawings may also give the audience a glimpse at his many thoughts and ideas. Considering the more opportunities of the later generations of Hong Kong artists enjoy today, [This exhibition hopes to] remind us the art scene in Hong Kong was actually founded by many enthusiastic artists like Josh Hon who made an early presence of contemporary art in Hong Kong when the artistic environment was minimal during an important period of history.’
-Leung Chi Wo

‘The reshowing of my work twenty some years later ended up not as a regret but an acceptance. Things of the past now had a larger breathing room to be viewed. As I reach my hand to trace the strokes and thoughts of my past efforts, I sensed more otherness that once was not quite there. They even started to talk back to me. It was a nice thing.’
-Josh Hon

Josh Hon was one of the most known artists in the 1980s in Hong Kong but faded out from the Hong Kong art scene in the early 1990s when he immigrated to Hope, British Columbia. However, with his cross-disciplinary practice from theatre performance to multi-media installation, he still remains as one of the most well-remembered artists of his time in Hong Kong art history. In the 1980s, his one-man show at the Hong Kong arts centre was critically acclaimed and cemented his role as a key pioneering figure in the Hong Kong arts scene. Hon’s brief career in the 1980s is a good example of the first generation of Hong Kong artists who have made use of a rather global art language without a burden of the Chinese tradition. This recollection of his artistic practice and his life in Hong Kong establishes the notion of memory in the study of Hong Kong art prior to any historical writing. Hon resides in Hope, B.C.

Leung Chi Wo is a Hong Kong visual artist and currently teaches at the School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong His forms of works mainly range from photography, installation, paintings and videos. Leung was also one of the co-founders of Para/Site Art Space in Hong Kong—which was established in early 1996 and was the first exhibition-making institution of contemporary art in Hong Kong. For this exhibition, Leung is acting curator and researcher of Josh Hon: Dead Water Convulsion—Hong Kong—1980s. Leung resides in Hong Kong.

Walking Tour
Wednesday, July 6, 9pm
Tour begins at Centre A (229 East Georgia Street) at the end of the opening, and will continue to Centre B (1981 Main Street).

Josh Hon and Leung Chi Wo in Conversation
Friday, July 8, 3:30pm
SFU Harbour Centre, Room 2270
515 West Hastings Street

Leung Chi Wo and Josh Hon will explore the art and political scene in Hong Kong of the 1980s in this presentation. We will be screening an english subtitled 1980s Hong Kong TV program that prominently featured Josh Hon, RTHK, Art Magazine, episode title: Art & Politics

Screening and Artist Talk, Hosted by Natalie Tin Yin Gan
Saturday, July 16, 4pm
at Centre A, 229 East Georgia Street

We will be screening an english subtitled 1980s Hong Kong TV program that prominently featured Josh Hon, RTHK, Art Magazine, episode title: Communication

View the catalogue here:

This exhibition is occurring during the occasion of the 9th International Conference of the International Society for the Study of Chinese Overseas.

For this exhibition we are particularly indebted to Melissa Karmen Lee, the David Lam Centre Fellow and Centre A Board Member. Special thanks to the David Lam Centre, Simon Fraser University, City University Hong Kong, and the School of Creative Media






“Josh Hon: Dead Water Convulsion–Hong Kong–1980s” Leung Chi Wo, Yishu Magazine, Vol 16, January/February 2017