Hong Kong may be better known for soaring concrete and glass skyscrapers that drag eyes skywards, but it is worth focusing your gaze at street level as a burgeoning urban art scene has seen an increase in inspired art pieces, created by both locally and internationally renowned artists.
Across the city, every imaginable surface, from rusting shop shutters and old warehouses to entire buildings, are being utilised as a canvas for bold murals and whimsical street art. Some are discreetly hidden away in small back alleys, while others are in-your-face extravaganzas of colour and creativity.
In recent years, urban art enthusiasts have seen bars, restaurants and corporate offices commission street artists to create unique pieces for their spaces. And bigger events like Dirty Panda, which hosts graffiti battles, and HK Walls, an annual street art festival hosted in a different part of Hong Kong each year, have seen a seismic shift in the scene. The creations popping up across the city are as diverse as they are spectacular, adding colour, revitalising neighbourhoods and bringing art out into the open, instead of hidden away in prestigious art galleries.
Popular Mong Kok, already known for its evenings of creative performance art, is home to some superb street art. Secreted away from the buzzing main street is a not-so-secret alleyway that is known locally as the ‘graffiti wall of fame’. This two block strip is crammed with old-school graffiti art pieces and provides a unique insight into Hong Kong street art.
Kowloon’s working-class area of Sham Shui Po, the 2016 site of HK Walls, is now home to a stunning array of murals. One of the most attention-grabbing is ‘Rainbow Thief” an enormous mural by Madrid-based Spanish artist, Okuda, that has transformed a worn-down residential building on Tai Nan Street into a piece of jaw-dropping art.
Hong Kong’s trendy Sheung Wan neighbourhood, which can best be described as hipster Hong Kong, is one of the city’s greatest outdoor galleries of street art, again thanks to the input of the artists participating in the HK Walls festival. Visitors can find amazing pieces along its many funky laneways. In Tai Ping Shan Street and Hollywood Streets you’ll find several excellent works, but a favourite is the little dragons on the side of La Cabane Wine Cellar in Shin Hing Street and the incredible Bruce Lee mural on Tank Lane.
Wong Chuk Hang is an up and coming hub for hipster creatives and alongside its galleries, fashion houses, cocktail bars and boutique hotels, Hong Kong’s street artists have taken to its walls with brushes and spray cans to create quirky and cool art, adding a flamboyant splash of colour to what was a once plain industrial strip.
With the city’s attitude towards street art changing in a positive way, one can only expect more and more amazing works to grace Hong Kong’s bustling streets.