It’s the usual Hong Kong summer. Sweltering heat, honking cars, with people spilling out of subway exits onto jam-packed streets. Shuffling between the crowd, I headed towards Times Square for my familiar shopping route. As I emerged from the underground station from a long escalator, I was greeted by a strange new installation.
It was a pop-up art exhibition. For a city that’s highly focused on finance and practicality, the giant white box almost seemed out of place. Its exterior was a little too simple, too unassuming. However, the resulting juxtaposition was interesting, and it drew me to enter the exhibit.
It was a showcase of a Hong Kong Lyricist named Cheng Kwok Kong. Cheng started his career back in the 80’s, and went on to fill in words for more than 2000 songs for the next two decades. His works spanned from billboard pops to cultural hits to cartoon soundtracks. Not only did he win numerous awards — his words shaped the memory of the current Hong Kong generation.
Writers tend to hide behind their pages, their words, but this space revealed Cheng’s entire life. Not only were there lyrics projected on the wall, the gallery also showcased his visual arts talent. There were oil paintings, as well as traditional Chinese shui-mo art. Photo walls revealed what went on behind the scene. Songs that Cheng scribed for were playing on vintage machines.
What made this space truly unique was its incredible accessibility. There was no entrance fee. Rather than attracting fancy art-admirers or mouthy tourists, the visitors were your regular pedestrians. Erected in front of Hong Kong’s most popular shopping mall, the exhibition invited all to learn more about this city’s hidden creative roots. It also allowed the common folks to enjoy a moment of art, slowing down and calming their restless souls.