Hanart TZ Gallery celebrates 30th anniversary
By Katherine Tong
Hanart TZ Gallery, pre-eminent gallery specializing in contemporary art of Greater China, is celebrating its 30th anniversary with “Hanart 100: Idiosyncrasies” comprising non-sale exhibitions across three venues and a symposium in Hong Kong. The event focuses on the concept of the “Three Art Worlds” that have coexisted in China from the 1900s to present day: the literati tradition, the socialist state and our current global capital world. The exhibition serves as a testimony to years of hard work used to foster and promote Chinese contemporary art and is a timely reflection to the benefit of future development.
Exhibiting at Hong Kong Arts Centre and Hanart Square, the gallery’s second space in Kwai Chung, are 100 “art objects” picked from Chinese modern art history selected by a curatorial team led by Chang Tsong-Zung, owner of Hanart TZ Gallery, and Chinese scholar Gao Shiming. Covering the expansive era of modern art in China, works range from traditional ink painting and calligraphy, to political pop, to those of the Chinese avant-garde. The two-part exhibition not only explains the postulation of the “Three Art Worlds” concept, which was discussed in depth during the one-and-a-half day symposium, but also demonstrates the expansion of artistic practices in the past century. At Hanart TZ Gallery, the main space located in Hong Kong’s central district, publications and documentation of landmark projects are displayed, such as “China’s New Art: Post-1989,” a group exhibition first shown in Hong Kong that later toured to Australia and the United States in the 1990s, and “Yellow Box” (2004–), a research project reflecting on the Chinese literati approach to artwork display in relationship with the white cube exhibition space. Additionally, Chang presents Jia Li Tang—a traditional Confucius hall of rites—a project he started as a student that only recently gained academic support in 2011. Jia Li Tang serves to revive rituals and values of the historic Chinese scholar and is presented, for the first time, in a digital format, which shows the capping ceremony from the Book of Rites.
Chang, now aged 62, was born in Hong Kong to an immigrant family from Shanghai. He developed his interest in Chinese art and philosophy starting from a young age. Educated at Williams College, Massachusetts, Chang studied Western art history and aesthetic theories. Upon returning to Hong Kong, he founded Hanart Gallery with dealer and painter Harold Wong in the late 1970s, focusing on traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy. In December 1983, Chang started his own venture, establishing Hanart TZ Gallery in a basement in Kowloon, first dealing contemporary art from Hong Kong and Taiwan. He soon set foot on mainland China after the open-door policy was reinstated, spearheading the debut of contemporary Chinese art onto the international scene in the 1990s. Among these were big name artists including Zeng Fanzhi, Zhang Xiaogang and Fang Lijun. In addition to his gallery, Chang also curates other large-scale projects, museum exhibitions and biennials. He recently worked on “Hong Kong Eye” (2012–13) and the Shanghai Biennale 2012. He is also a co-founder of Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong and guest professor of China Art Academy in Hangzhou, China.
On January 19, Chang announced that the 100 works on show in “Hanart 100: Idiosyncrasies” will be donated, but there is currently no mention as to the recipient of the priceless collection. Chang, who was recently appointed as a member of the museum committee of West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong, said his aim is to keep the lot intact and away from market: “These artworks have been with me for decades. I don't want to put them on the market and see them end up scattered in different places. I hope they can stay together.”
Katherine Tong is a researcher at ArtAsiaPacific.