In the Show – 24th June 2008

Until July 9th you can see a unique exhibition devoted to the tattoo in a billiard hall in Central. In the minds of many, tattoos have long been associated with underground activities and gang members. Today though you find them on entertainment figures, sports stars, and people from all walks of life. Hong Kong’s tattoo artists, both old and new, are finding a new popularity.

The movie “Kung Fu Panda” has run into a bit of a controversy in mainland China, with some activists calling for a boycott, not only because they are angry with one of its producers, Steven Spielberg, linking the Olympics with human rights in Darfur, but also because they say the panda – as a Chinese icon – should be treated with more respect. Controversy aside, it’s worth remembering that “Kung Fu Panda” is basically a pretty harmless computer-animated movie, mostly aimed at children. It’s about Po the panda, the son of a noodle shop owner, who secretly aspires to be an awesome kung fu warrior. Gary Pollard is here to review it.

Dancer and choreographer Xing Liang is particularly inspired by Pina Bausch and William Forsythe, two choreographers known for stretching the traditional boundaries of the art form. Xing takes his cue from their pioneering spirit in his choreography for the City Contemporary Dance Company’s latest production “Out of the Box”. He says that in this dance he wants to explore pure body language. In the process, he may also be challenging some audience expectations.

In our studio performing tonight is the saxophone quarter La Sax. They, and special guest trumpet player Fung Ka-hing, play Harold Arlen’s “Over the Rainbow”.

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In the Show – 17th June 2008

It isn’t always easy for young artists to get their work in front of the public. The more commercial galleries would prefer you to have a name before they devote much gallery space to your work. Some of the smaller galleries are more interested in introducing new talent. Now though, two Hong Kong artists have decided to take things into their own hands, and opened the Hulahoop gallery.

In terms of commerce, Hong Kong may want to be known as Asia’s world city, but in the eyes of many it’s a world city with little or no space for artistic exploration of human sexuality. Local artists are often cautious about approaching the erotic. And when they do, arguments can quickly arise on where the erotic ends and the pornographic begins.

At the cinema it’s going to be a summer of sequels, remakes and re-imaginings, often of comic book heroes that were at their most popular in the 1960s, long before most of today’s movie audience members were even born. In 2003, Marvel Comics teamed up with Hollywood to make “The Hulk”. It wasn’t widely considered much of a success. This year, they’ve come back with “The Incredible Hulk”, and they’ve pretty much started afresh. Gary Pollard reviews the new version.

Japanese trumpet player Shunzo Ohno moved to New York in 1974. Since then he’s played with many of the best known names in jazz, including including Art Blakey, Roy Haynes, Gil Evans, Herbie Hancock, and Wayne Shorter. He’s even appeared on David Byrne’s “Rei Momo” and Dave Matthews’ “Digital Love”. He was performing at the Fringe Club over the weekend, accompanied by local artists Eugene Pao on guitar and Ted Lo on piano, as well as Japanese musicians Shinichi Sato on bass and Tamayo Honda on drums. The Works was there.

In the Show – 10th June 2008

Created by Artistic Director John Meehan for Le French May, Tricolor, is an eclectic programme with a neo-classical twist. It contains three highly challenging choreographic masterworks by ballet icons of the 20th century: Antony Tudor, Serge Lifar and George Balanchine, plus the White Swan Pas de Deux from Swan Lake. “Tricolor” will be a magnificent visual feast displaying the three colours of the French flag: blue, white, and red, each telling a unique story.

Also as part of Le French May, Hong Kong University’s Museum and Art Gallery is presenting Pablo Picasso’s Vollard Suite, a remarkable set of intaglio prints, until Sunday 20 July 2008. During his lifetime Picasso created approximately 2000 prints in media ranging from etching, drypoint, lithograph, to linocut. The 100 intaglio prints that make up the Vollard Suite are generally regarded as his finest achievements in printmaking. They fall under five main themes: The Battle of Love, the Sculptors ’ Studio, Rembrandt, the Minotaur, and the Blind Minotaur.

CS Lewis’s seven books in the “Chronicles of Narnia” series are bestsellers. Avid readers have bought over 100 million copies in 41 languages. They’ve also been adapted for radio, television, stage, and as animation films. The 2005 movie version of “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe” was a bestseller too. At the time of its release it quickly became one of the Top 25 box office performers of all time. There are plans to film all seven installments. The second one, “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” is in our cinemas this week. Gary Pollard reviews it.

Esteban Antonio began playing guitar at the age of three and started formal classical training at nine when he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music, London. He studied classical guitar with John Williams and his disciples, as well as piano, violin, orchestration and composition. Antonio has worked with George Michael and David Bowie. He also played as featured flamenco guitarist in Kander and Ebb’s “The World Goes Round”.

Picasso’s Vollard Suite in Hong Kong

At the Hong Kong University Art Gallery until 20 July, as part of “Le French May” the Consulate General of France in Hong Kong and Macau and The University Museum and Art Gallery are presenting “Pablo Picasso: The Vollard Suite”.

Pablo Picasso was undoubtedly one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, and one who excelled in many areas of fine art. These are considered among his very finest prints, and it’s not often you’ll get the chance to see them together like this.

Tina Pang is the curator of the University Museum and Art Gallery.

TIna Pang: “I think it is rare to see Picasso prints in Hong Kong. And it is rare to see the whole collection of the Vollard Suite. I believe even the National Library in France doesn’t have a complete set. Nor does the Picasso Museum in Paris. The set on show in Hong Kong was not created as a complete set by itself. It was assembled over a number of years. So the collector has managed to collect one of each of the prints and put back together the original hundred prints.”

During his lifetime Picasso created some 2,000 prints in etching, dry point and aquatint.  For the first 40 years of his artistic career, in his printmaking Picasso concentrated almost exclusively on intaglio processes, in which the ink is held in carved incisions. The hundred intaglio prints that make up the Vollard Suite are generally regarded as Picasso’s printmaking at its best.

Tina Pang: “This set of prints was named The Vollard Suite. It’s named after Ambroise Vollard, a strong supporter and Picasso’s agent until 1910. Vollard was with Picasso through the early part of his career and collected many of his paintings. In 1930, he decided to commission Picasso to create an exclusive set of a hundred prints for him. Picasso took around seven years to complete them. There are various theories of about why he took on such a major task, but some believe he did it to make exchanges with some earlier works that were no longer in his possession.”

The prints, produced in the 1930s, fall into five main series: The Sculptor’s Studio, The Battle of Love, Rembrandt, the Minotaur,and the Blind Minotaur. The Sculptor’s Studio series is the largest. In them, Picasso depicts himself as a somewhat mythological sculptor working in the studio.In some, his young and beautiful model, Marie Therese is in his arms. It was a celebration. At fifty, Picasso had found a new love.

The Battle of Love series is more classical in origin, and in its references, as Picasso returns to Greek mythology to depict the minotaur. Picasso identified with the half-man half-bull beast, driven here by desire and his attraction for his model. Around 1933, as the relationship between Picasso and his then wife began to deteriorate, he depicted a fallen minotaur which may have implied his agony at the time. In the Blind Minotaur Guided by a Girl in the Night, the Minotaur is no longer filled with desire but has lost his vision and become helpless, guided by a little girl carrying a dove.

The prints in the Vollard Suite are not only masterworks of printmaking, they are also representations of the artist’s inner world.

Tina Pang: “Many are slightly experimental in nature. You can see in some of the prints, sculptures that he went on to create. But in many of the other works, he’s experimenting with sculptural ideas that he decides to scrap. He never did make them. He is playing with Greek classical figures, but he also playing with different kinds of classicism, which is to do with actually the art of print-making itself. He very much admires the prints of Rembrandt, the 17th century Dutch painter. And also the Spanish artist, Goya, who is also a very powerful print maker. So he uses the techniques those artists use in etching. He creates a very wide range of prints within the collection of the hundred works. Some of them are very sketchy and experimental, others look almost finished and generate a very complete composition. So, I think it is a very rich set of images.”

In the Show – 3rd June 2008

Writer, dramatist, painter and filmmaker, Gao Xingjian is one of China’s best-known dissidents.

Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2000, he was the first Chinese Nobel literature laureate, but his work’s been banned in the mainland since 1989,and is still controversial there.

Recently he was in Hong Kong as the guest of honour at an arts festival dedicated to his work.

“The Counterfeiters” is the Austrian movie that won this year’s Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. It’s about the Jewish forger Salomon “Sally” Sorowitsch who is drafted by his Nazi concentration camp captors into literally making money for them. For him and the rest of his counterfeiting team, it’s a devil’s bargain. By doing this, they might survive the war, but what of the broader moral implications? At what cost can you buy your own survival? Gary Pollard reviews the film.

In our studio tonight is pianist, composer and music director, Warren Wills, who was last seen on our show in the company of jazz singer Rain Pryor. Warren left Australia for Europe in the early 1980s. Most recently, the classically trained musician has been working in small scale musicals for London’s fringe theatres, including a production of Woody Allen’s “Murder Mysteries”.