Finally, after visiting Tokyo and spending some time in Europe we’re back in Hong Kong. Just in time to visit the nine monumental bronze sculptures by the Colombian master Fernando Botero that have been at the Hong Kong’s Central Harbourfront, since early June as part of SummerFest.
I love Botero’s works, his vuluptuous sculptures are so easy to recognise – and while they look happy and childish on the one hand, they also appear sad and out of place.
While you might smile at the female nudes, reclining figures and the big cat that are on display here, you might also wonder why the figures are so sombre looking. They don’t smile and their eyes are open, but empty. Just glazing outwards…
Hong Kong is the third and last stop of this touring exhibition, after a series of “Botero in China” exhibitions held at the National Museum of China in Beijing and the China Art Museum in Shanghai.
The expectation is that around 2 million people will visit these statues – but I fear that might not happen. As beautiful as they are, they are in the wrong location. They should have been dotted around town and not set up on an artificial bit of grass next to nothing.
Yes, the Harbourfront needs visitors, but the area is hard to access (and you have to walk around a fence to reach one of the three gates) and there is no shade – which is just stupid when you do a show in June, July and August, the hottest month of the year. While someone might argue you could visit at night, then that’s beyond the point (and it explains why there are so many ugly floodlights set up next to the statues, which make it hard to take nice pictures of these beautiful sculptures).
I know I digress, but it just irks me that this is Hong Kong – and someone thought, let’s bring this fantastic Colombian artist to Hong Kong. It does not matter what we do with him and his work, we will attract buyers – because art sells in China and in Hong Kong. Well yes, maybe – but the point is that art should be there for everyone to enjoy and everyone should be able to interpret it. In this case, it is only for people who can be asked to track to the Harbourfront – and on a hot Saturday at 11am no kiosk is open, so you even need to bring your own bottle of water if you don’t want to get a heatstroke!
The nine giant bronze sculptures, created between 1982 and 2003, each over three meters tall and weighing at least two tons, will be on display until August 14, 2016 at the Central Harbourfront Event Space.