Press Release from Tai Kwun
Tai Kwun, in association with Tetra Neon Exchange, is proud to present Vital Signs, a new exhibition that celebrates Hong Kong’s unique and distinctive visual identity through its iconic neon heritage. The exhibition invites contemporary artisans to follow in the footsteps of the pioneering neon masters who came before them, and pays tribute to the skill, craftsmanship, audacity, competitiveness, precision, and can-do mindset that define this vibrant art form.
Visitors can experience and appreciate up close the neon signs, master craftsmen, and vibrant streetscapes that were once synonymous with Hong Kong’s visual culture. The exhibition spans two entirely separate spaces within Tai Kwun, commencing in the Duplex Studio in Block 01 where visitors can marvel at the sheer size and audacity of over 20 neon signs, many of which have been conserved and recommissioned by Tetra Neon Exchange and are on public display for the first time.
The neon tour then continues at Laundry Steps, which are transformed into a riotous electrified streetscape crowned by another cluster of five authentic and original Hong Kong neon signs. The exhibition highlights the flair and imagination, as well as the ingenious problem-solving of Hong Kong’s legendary neon masters, and invites visitors to step back into the Wan Chai, Tsim Sha Tsui and Causeway Bay of the 70s and 80s, where distinctive canopies of dazzling, blinking, multicoloured neon signs in Chinese characters (and occasionally English) competed for attention in the streets of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island – an image instantly recognisable around the world, capturing in a single Polaroid shot the vitality, excitement, and opportunity that drew the world to Hong Kong.
To further promote the art of neon and support Hong Kong’s neon industry, Tai Kwun is hosting an open competition, Neon Connection, inviting local artists, designers, and architects to conceive their own large-scale public sculptures using the medium of neon, to create a visual thread that links the buzzing Parade Ground with the more introspective Prison Yard, via Tai Kwun Lane. The winning design will be fully realised by Tai Kwun and installed next January.
Along with the exhibition, a series of public programmes will be hosted from July 11, including workshops, talks, screenings, and tours, designed to immerse visitors in the unique cultural heritage of Hong Kong’s neon industry.
Vital Signs Exhibition
|Date||June 30 – September 3, 2023|
|Venue||Block 01 Duplex Studio & Laundry Steps, Tai Kwun, Central|
For more information about the programmes and the exhibition, please visit Tai Kwun’s website.
Header image credits: Tai Kwun