Artists from Hong Kong, Beijing and London celebrated in joint project of Royal Academy Schools and China institutions, By James Brewer
A wave of new thinking, born of immersion in a lively international milieu: promising young artists from three metropolises are showing the world their talents thanks to an auspicious collaboration between leading entities in the cities. The progenitors of their exhibition are the Royal Academy of Arts in London; Arts in Heritage Research Hong Kong; and the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing.
Thirteen works have emerged in fortunate conjunction, from eight artists. Their show springs from the first round of a three year artist-in-residence exchange programme involving the three organisations.
First host of the project, the Royal Academy Schools, has put the output on display in a stylish group exhibition under the title TILT. It is installed in the Schools’ well lit gallery, accessed from the Burlington House side of the Royal Academy complex.
Each work presents a challenge of interpretation. Stephanie Sin from Hong Kong offers a ghostly acrylic work applied to two adjacent gallery walls, perhaps alluding to shady shop-fronts, on which we can just make out the words Chinese Freemason Society Chee Kong Tong, and separately Mr Kong Fully Licensed. The most figurative work is a long stretch mixing Chinese paper and fabric in which Cui Ran with her ink drawings and photo cards seems to celebrate the chaotic architecture of London. Installation is in another room, in the form of Peter Donaldson’s contribution, entitled Divide-r: this is an Armitage Shanks china urinal divider.
To produce the work, the artists – four from London, two from Beijing and two from Hong Kong – worked to a tight deadline, co-ordinated and encouraged by innovative British artist Sarah Jones, who is resident in critical practice at the Royal Academy Schools for 2014-2016. Ms Jones is preparing a publication documenting the residency.
It was a lively six weeks in which the participants, who embody varying artistic practices, backgrounds and cultures – ranging from traditional Chinese painting to new media, text art and performance — exchanged their experiences, and explored the history of the Royal Academy and of their host city.
Ranging from 23 to 30 years old, they are Peter Donaldson, Alana Francis, Ella McCartney and John Robertson, alumni of the Royal Academy Schools; Stephanie Sin and Ng Sum Chi from Hong Kong; and Cui Ran and He Xiao from the Beijing academy.
Eliza Bonham Carter, curator and head of the Royal Academy Schools, said that the exchange aimed at facilitating unprecedented communication between young artists from London, Beijing and Hong Kong. She said: “As a school, we are dedicated to promoting artists locally, regionally and internationally and our ultimate hope is that these artists will gain further insight into their practice and a broadened global perspective.”
The project owes much to its Hong Kong patron, which was established in 2013 by Calvin Hui, co-chairman and director of Fine Art Asia, a leading art fair, and Adrian Cheng, who founded the not-for-profit organisation K11 Art Foundation to support emerging artists and designers from Greater China and to raise public awareness of the contemporary art scene in Hong Kong. Mr Cheng, who has a role in the business of his grandfather Cheng Yu-tung, founder of the New World Development group of real estate, retail and telecoms interests, was among other accolades named as one of the 2012 ‘40 under 40′global business stars by Fortune magazine.
Arts in Heritage Research Hong Kong says it is seeking to work with others “to build a unique hub and shared platform for carrying out educational aims and community outreach programmes in reference to Hong Kong’s distinctive arts and heritage.” It is “committed to nurturing future talents who would carry on this fine mission, ” and to facilitate a better understanding and future development for Hong Kong’s arts and heritage environment.
Airline sponsor of the art-in-residence programme is Cathay Pacific. RA Schools is sponsored by Newton Investment Management
TILT: work by artists from Hong Kong, Beijing and London in residence at Royal Academy Schools. Exhibition continues at Royal Academy School Studios to 14 September 2014. Admission is free.