A spate of exhibitions opening in Hong Kong this month foreground a diverse array of artists devoted to formal experimentation across media and disciplines. Whether working in painting, sculpture, or photography, these artists straddle artistic styles or subvert traditional genre precepts to generate novel ideas and explore new perspectives. Check out these seven gallery exhibitions on view during Art Basel Hong Kong.

Wucius Wong
‘Water Thoughts and Mountain Visions’
Alisan Fine Arts, Central
March 22 – May 16, 2024

A master of the New Ink Movement, Hong Kong-based artist Wucius Wong has spent the past six decades forging a virtuosic painting style that melds classical Chinese ink techniques with the visual languages of geometric abstraction and modern graphic design. His solo survey at Alisan Fine Arts brings together around 20 works from 1985 to the present, encompassing calligraphy and natural landscapes inspired by Northern Song culture, as well as dense, gridded compositions evoking the busy roads and bright lights of his home city. Among the paintings on view are Valley Thoughts 2 (1986), in which finely-rendered ridges emerge from billowing clouds, and Running Water Forever 36 (2013), depicting roiling waves flecked with turquoise and silt.

Carrie Yamaoka
‘lucid / liquid / limpid’
Kiang Malingue, Tin Wan
March 23 – April 27, 2024

Since the 1990s, Carrie Yamaoka has explored ideas of visibility and chance through abstract photograms, paintings, and mixed-media works. The New York-based artist’s first solo show with Kiang Malingue centers on a recent body of work produced using reflective film. 20 by 16 (blue/white) (2023), for instance, consists of a silver vinyl strip that was exposed to sunlight, covered in layers of tinted resin, and then heated, resulting in ripples of electric blue across the shiny surface. A counterpoint to Yamaoka’s poetic presentation can be found at Kiang Malingue’s Sik On Street location, which is hosting an exhibition of Hong Kong artist and animator Wong Ping’s bawdy videos and installations.

Izumi Kato
March 24 – May 18, 2024

Izumi Kato is best known for his untitled paintings and sculptures of expressionless humanoid figures, often hybridized with botanical or mechanical elements. The Japanese artist’s latest solo exhibition at Perrotin delves deeper into the relationship between these mysterious characters and other life-forms, with new two-panel canvases juxtaposing the bug-eyed beings with cross-sectional diagrams of domesticated animals such as dogs and cattle. Another recent untitled work portrays a female figure perched atop an active volcano, perhaps hinting at the terrestrial origins of Kato’s creatures.

Wolfgang Tillmans
‘The Point Is Matter’
David Zwirner
March 25 – May 11, 2024

Wolfgang Tillmans’s photographic practice is defined by its formal inventiveness and genre-defying ethos. Among the highlights at his fifth exhibition with David Zwirner is Ulaanbaatar Still Life (2023), an image of flowers by a window overlooking a snow-covered fairground, which blurs the distinction between landscape and still life. In Window Left Open (2023), a cascade of leaves from an indoor plant frames a view of an illuminated stairwell in the building across the street, showcasing Tillmans’s deft interplay of light and shadow, interior and exterior. Also on view is Sirius Through a Defocused Telescope, f (2023), in which the brightest star in the night sky is refracted into a fuzzy burst of cyan and violet, marking a continuation of the artist’s investigation into the limits and possibilities of perceptual apparatuses.

‘Butterfly Dream’
Blindspot Gallery
March 26 – May 11, 2024

Chinese artist Xiyadie’s solo debut in Hong Kong is his most comprehensive exhibition to date, featuring works from the past three decades of his career. Self-taught in the Chinese folk art of papercutting, Xiyadie – a nom de plume that translates to ‘Siberian butterfly’ – creates richly symbolic freehand works that queer traditional myths and relate his personal experiences as a gay person living in a conservative society. One of the earliest works on view, Train (1986), portrays the artist’s tryst with a train attendant amid an intricate profusion of pink blossoms that signify his sexual awakening. Other pieces explore Xiyadie’s relationship with his family, such as Hoping (2000), which depicts his son levitating out of his wheelchair and morphing into a yellow bird.

Louise Giovanelli
‘Here on Earth’
White Cube
March 26 – May 18, 2024

Inspired by such disparate sources as Northern Renaissance art and 1970s horror films, Louise Giovanelli creates luminous paintings characterized by fragmentary, veiled, and subtly distorted imagery. The British artist’s first exhibition in Asia presents a new series of portraits in which the female subjects are hauntingly repeated. In Maenad (2023), a woman brings her hands to her open mouth, eyes closed in pleasure. With a viridian tinge that suggests degraded videotape, this likeness is superimposed onto a more tightly cropped picture of the same woman, this time with lips slightly parted. Although Giovanelli’s replicated figures allude to the commodification of women in mass media, they are subversively imbued with a powerful and uncanny eroticism.

Movana Chen
‘Words of Heartbeats’
Flowers Gallery
March 28 – May 11, 2024

Over the last 20 years, Movana Chen has amassed maps, books, and other printed matter to be shredded and woven into tapestries and sculptural works. For her solo exhibition at Flowers Gallery, she turns to more personal material, using more than 180 letters she received between 1989 and 2023 as the basis for a new body of wall-based works. With each of the 14 pieces measuring just 13 x 21 cm, the series, titled ‘Love Letters’, transforms handwritten pages into illegible blobs resembling speech bubbles – an act of revisiting and reconstituting the past that evokes a longing for intimacy despite the vicissitudes of time and distance.

Credits and Captions

Ophelia Lai is a writer and editor based in Hong Kong.

Caption for top image: Carrie Yamaoka, 40 by 40 (silver.ripple), (detail), 2023. Image courtesy of the artist and Kiang Malingue.

Published on March 19, 2024.