Here are some of the best artworks from HKWALLS 2018, an annual street art festival in Hong Kong. The event was organized by HKWALLS (hkwalls.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of street art and culture in the community. The event organizers matched property and business owners (who provided the walls) to local and overseas artists (who provided the talent). This year, the event took place in the adjacent districts of Central, Sheung Wan and Sai Ying Pun. Let’s look at twelve of the works (more works are in ths article: HKWALLS 2018 Part 2: Sheung Wan Street Art)
1. Artist: Elsa Jean de Dieu (France/HK)
Originally from France, artist Elsa Jean de Dieu has been living in Hong Kong since 2008. Together with her team at her atelier—Elsa Jeandedieu Studio—she specializes in bespoke wall art, murals and furniture design. Here she has created a striking portrait with a positive vibe.
In the past, Hong Kong’s street art scene was mainly an underground affair, with artists preferring to remain anonymous and working as secretly and quickly as possible to put up mainly tags (quickly scrawled signatures), throw-ups (larger-filled-in signatures), paste-ups (pre-printed art that is glued to the wall) and, if time and talent allowed, wildstyle (multi-colored 3D-style signatures). There simply weren’t that many pieces (the kind of work featured on this page).
By matching up business and artists beforehand, HKWALLS gives street artists time and space to bring their visions to life. There are now a lot more eye-catching pieces around town. A lot of these have been done via the HKWALLS project, but many have been done independently, like this mural by Elsa Jean de Dieu outside the Uma Nota restaurant in Central.
Though not part of the HKWALLS project, this mural, along with works by other artists such as Vhils, Cyril Delettre, Matt Gondek and ONI, is a good example of how the street art scene in Hong Kong has evolved largely due to the festival’s influence.
Location: 21A Lyndhurst Terrace, Central (Lush Spa & Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics)
Artist’s website: www.elsajeandedieu.com
2. Artist: Cinta Vidal (Spain)
This attractive mural is by Cinta Vidal, an artist based just outside of Barcelona who specializes in paintings and murals of gravity-defying, jumbled-up living spaces. The buildings here, with their flaking grey exteriors, cables and profusion of air-conditioners seem to be inspired by Hong Kong’s older tenement buildings (known as ‘Tong Lau’), which can feel kind of gravity-defying and jumbled up even without an artistic re-interpretation.
In an interview with Nathan Spoor, the artist describes how her paintings represent the disconnect between reality and perception:
With these un-gravity constructions, I want to show that we live in one world, but we live in it in very different ways – playing with everyday objects and spaces, placed in impossible ways to express that many times, the inner dimension of each one of us does not match the mental structures of those around us. The architectural spaces and day-to-day objects are part of a metaphor of how difficult it is to fit everything that shapes our daily space: our relationships, work, ambitions, and dreams. (hifructose.com/2015/04/24/exclusive-interview-cinta-vidal-agullo-discusses-her-paintings-of-inverted-architecture/)
HKWALLS’ video of Cinta Vidal:
Location: 52-56 Staunton St., Central (Stazione Novella & Happy Paradise)
Artist’s website: cintavidal.com
3. Artist: Dan Kitchener (aka DANK) (UK)
This mural, tucked in a narrow alleyway, depicts what looks like a typical Hong Kong night scene—taxis, wet pavement and glowing neon signs. However, in Hong Kong the taxis are red. And the menacing-looking geisha-android lurking in a dark doorway at the bottom right of the mural is not a common sight.
A lot of Dan Kitchener’s work is influenced by Japanese culture, but it is a vision of Japanese culture that has been filtered through the visual aesthetics of sci-fi works like the original Blade Runner movie and Ghost in the Shell anime, both of whose urban settings were based at least in part on Hong Kong.
Location: 45-53 Graham Street, Central (The Globe)
Artist’s website: www.dankitchener.com
4. Artist: Sheep (China)
Sheep Chen is an artist from Jiaxing in Zhejiang, China. This bright and colorful mural is a painting of girl blowing out a candle. Sheep’s stated aim in drawing the portrait is straightforward: he hopes to being joy and happiness to people. As you walk towards the work, which is high on the side of a building, it is partially blocked by trees, with the leaves providing a nice frame for the painting.
Location: 8 Wa In Fong E., Central (Natural Food & Beverages)
Artist’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/sheep.chen.37
5. Artist: Alex Senna (Brazil)
Brazilian artist Alex Senna creates large, minimalist black and white murals of people going about their daily lives. His style is influenced by comics and caricatures and his portraits have a retro feel to them. The narrow, vertical eyes of the woman in this portrait are a characteristic of his style. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the artist’s colorblindness, his works focus on shape and form rather than color.
Location: 18 Gough St., Central (NOC Coffee Co.)
Artist’s website: www.alexsenna.com.br
6. Artist: ONEQ (Japan)
ONEQ is a Japanese artist who creates stylized paintings of sexy and glamorous pin-up models. Pin-up art is mainly associated with posters of the 1940s and 1950s, but is still referenced nowadays in the retro/sultry style of artists such as Lana Del Ray and Dita Von Teese. In ONEQ’s portraits, the vampish style is dialed up a few notches—full red lips are extra fuller and extra red, wavy hair is extra wavy, high cheekbones are extra high, long fingers and nails are extra long, and curvy proportions are extra curvy. In an interview with Evan Senn, the artist states:
It feels fun simply to draw a curve of woman’s body. But, if I explain more… I still haven’t fully understood women deeply, though I am a woman myself. So, I am drawn to draw women, because women are a mystery to me, and still a part of me. (beautifulbizarre.net/2016/02/04/exclusive-interview-with-oneq)
Location: 97 Hollywood Rd, Central (La Cabane Wine Cellar)
Artist’s blog: kotemufu.exblog.jp
7. Artists: 45 rpm & Voyder (UK)
45 rpm and Voyder are street artists based in Bristol. 45 rpm is known for his clean, cartoon-like style while Voyder alernates between realistic portraits and colorful wildstyle works.
8. Artist: Alexis Diaz (Puerto Rico)
Alexis Diaz is a Puerto Rican artist best known for his detailed murals of chimerical creatures. One of his paintings, for example, depicts a cross between an octopus and an elephant). The creatures are meticulously hand painted using tiny black brushstrokes. Most of the inhabitants of Alex Diaz’s painted menagerie are his own whimsical creations; however, this one—with its antlers, hooves and scaled body—is a chimerical creature from Chinese mythology: the Qilin, which is associated with luck, good omens, protection, prosperity, success, and longevity.
HKWALLS’ video of Alex Diaz:
Location: 120 Connaught Rd. W., Sai Ying Pun (CHI Residences 120)
Artist’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Alexis-Diaz-1452270151663226
9. Artist: Gus Eagleton (Australia)
Gus Eagleton is an Australian artist. His studio work is varied, but when creating street art, he normally focuses on portraits. These murals tend to feature one or two dominant colors (like the yellow and green in this painting) and often incorporate flowers or floral motifs.
The numbers and Chinese characters in this street art mural are based on real-estate ads. At present the average apartment cost in the territory is over 18 times the median income, pushing home ownership beyond the reach of the average person. Hong Kong is a fun and beautiful place, but for a lot of people here, the cost of living (particularly the exorbitant rents and mortgages) is an ever-present concern.
Location: 12 Third St, Sai Wan
Artist’s website: www.guseagleton.com
10. Artist: Storm (Denmark)
I like the way this painting adds a dash of color and nature to the street without drawing attention to itself. Aside from the red wingtips, the colors are muted and the bird’s brownish grey plumage blends in well with the surroundings.
Location: 63 Third St, Sai Ying Pun (The Hideout Coffee House)
11. Artist: Bo Law (HK)
This wall painting by local artist Bo Law is wildly imaginative. From a distance only the whale breaching the surface stands out, but when you move closer, you start to see erupting volcanoes. rocket ships, skyscrapers and all manner of creatures—a star-eyed genie floating out from someone’s broken head, a Godzilla-look-a-like wading across the harbor, an antlered creature slouching forlornly atop a building.
Location: Alley by 27-29 First St., Sai Ying Pun (Burger Joys)
Artist’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/bolaw.410
12. Artist: Sik (China)
Across the street from Bo Law’s wild mural is Chinese artist Sik’s nicely executed piece of an astronaut, hamburger and zero gravity.
Location: Alley by 248 Queen’s Rd W, Sai Ying Pun
This article features the works in Sheung Wan: HKWALLS 2018 Part 2: Sheung Wan Street Art
FWTV – On The Road – HK WALLS – Behind the scenes of HONG KONG’s leading STREET ART FESTIVAL
by FifthWallTv (features interviews with some of the artists)
by HK Walls (festival highlights)
- Which works do you like best? Why do those ones appeal to you?
- In this article, I’ve focused on the benefits of hooking up artists with businesses like restaurants, health food shops and cosmetics stores. What are the possible negative effects of this kind of sponsorship?
- In this festival, artists from overseas seemed to far outnumber local artists? Do you think more effort should be made to reach out to local artists or do you prefer the more international approach adopted by HKWALLS 2018?
Sketch a wall near your home, school or office. Design an artwork that would go on the wall and add it to your sketch.
~photos and text by longzijun
More Street Art Galleries
Return to Artjouer’s Gallery of Artists