To market, to market

Art & Culture | Natasha Tai 8 Oct 2021

The supermarket is the last place one would go in search of artwork, but for Angel Hui and KC Wong, the concept of a one-stop shop is filled with potential for a fun transformation.

Art Next Expo alumni Hui and Wong once again challenge the art world with more experimental creations - not as artists this time, but as curators of their latest collaborative exhibition Next Mart.

As if stepping into a parallel universe, Next Mart takes the form of a supermarket - only instead of meat, vegetables and fish, you will find paintings, sculptures and art toys.

"We wanted to present audiences with something they are familiar with, yet at the same time create a sense of unfamiliarity, like entering an alternate universe," said Hui.

Seeking to explore the popular trend of art toys, Hui and Wong didn't want to present their work in a traditional manner, instead striving to create a transformative space to match the variety and vibrancy of art toys. With the idea of "fun" in mind, they chose the supermarket as the perfect setting to show the work of their artists.

As almost everyone is familiar with convenience stores, Hui and Wong were able to turn that perception on its head and make it a place for art. At the same time, Next Mart retains certain qualities of a typical supermarket so artists can show their artworks in set categories.

"We wanted to challenge the space provided to us, and see how we can transform it in a fun and versatile way that brings a sense of refreshing innovation," said Wong.

Added Hui: "We even asked our artists which category they think their artwork would belong to in a supermarket."

The result is a bold and captivating exhibition, with bright colors and racks filled with works from different artists - some satirical, some colorful, some sculptural, all of them exciting and fun.

Of course, the process of curation presented a separate challenge for Hui and Wong.

As individual artists, their previous experiences centered on displaying their own artworks. For Hui, she had to learn how to fade into the background and prioritize the artists as well as how to communicate with them and figure out ways of arranging the exhibits.

"I was not thinking about how I, Angel, would present my work," Hui said. "Rather, I was thinking of which artists to invite, what artwork would they be bringing and how to incorporate their artwork."

As for Wong, he believes creation to be an individual process - but in curation, it is his job to introduce audiences to the artists.

"It's about finding a balance - between my own identity and each artist's position within the exhibition," Wong said.

Their collaboration has allowed for a better learning opportunity.

Given his background in design, Wong focused more on creating the layout of the exhibit whilst seasoned artist Hui used her experience in the art world to organize the works and communicate with the artists.

Despite being busy managing more than 10 artists and 70 to 80 pieces of artworks, Hui and Wong see Next Mart only as a step toward new territory.

They plan to continue experimenting with new ideas in the art world.

Next Mart will be available at Art Next Expo from today to Sunday at Lanson Place in Causeway Bay. Offering everything from contemporary ink and multimedia to art toys, the expo will be a chance for art lovers and collectors to meet the artists in person.

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