|Hong Kong art and cultural identity|
|Written by Xi Chen|
|Wednesday, 08 April 2009|
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If cultural identity is the soul of a city, then art must be the window to the soul.
Despite its status as the third largest art market in the world by auction value following New York and London, Hong Kong has not much of a market mechanism to support its local born and bred artists.
Many local artists have to struggle to follow their passion while try to make a living in this city where money is king.
The art world has been paying more attention to Contemporary Chinese Art from mainland China in the past years but art in Hong Kong is still like a gem well covered under the sand.
It is an interesting contradiction. Being at the cultural interception of east and west, Hong Kong artists are exposed to influences from both ends and moderniity of Hong Kong art happened much earlier than in mainland China since it was never closed up.
So why is Hong Kong art not popular?
Professor David Clarke, who came to Hong Kong over two decades ago to study art under historical transition, and who has written a book on "Hong Kong Art: Culture and Decolonization", explains:
"Hong Kong (art) doesn’t have that sense of otherness like mainland has to western audiences. It is not Chinese enough to be interesting. Only when the understanding of China matures, will people understand what the Hong Kong contribution is.”
Carl Cheng, a Hong Kong native who turned away from his business major in university to become an artist and art teacher, also thinks Hong Kong's culture is not supportive enough for its art development.
"The Whole city does not have enough support for culture. Hong Kong is very homogeneous, in terms of taste and goal. Hong Kong people, inside their minds, it is only about survival -- money, so they are very practical. "
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So when Hong Kong looks to the East, it realizes it doesn’t yet have an audience; when it looks to the West, it realizes the audience doesn’t want something that has no solid culture identity.
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