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234 × 156 mm
240 pages
135 illustrations, 35 in colour
01 Sep 2001
Envisioning Asia

Hong Kong Art Culture and Decolonization David Clarke

David Clarke offers a fascinating account of art made in Hong Kong in the years leading up to and following the handover of British sovereignty to China in 1997. This process differed from post-colonial experiences elsewhere in the world in that it did not end in independence but in absorption into a much larger entity with an entirely different political system. Until now, the cultural aspects of this passage have not been given the attention they deserve, apart perhaps from the analysis of film. Clarke fills the gap by considering a wide range of media, including painting, sculpture, photography, video and installation pieces, as well as other kinds of visual production such as architecture, fashion, graphic design and graffiti. He shows how the approach of the handover heightened a sense of local identity, and how this found expression in the politicized art that became common at the time.

This topical book is the first comprehensive discussion of all forms of art made in Hong Kong during the decolonization period.

‘Clarke’s Hong Kong Art itself is a proof of opting to refuse the “vicious” circle of silence. It is done by way of a lucid narrative, substantial research, and an awareness of art history writing, that intervene in mutating the ongoing situation.’ – Journal of Aesthetic Education

‘Clarke’s book, with its discussion of a wide range of media, including painting, architecture, sculpture, photography, video, installation, fashion, graphic design, and graffiti, and with its large number of illustrations as well as a rich bibliography is a welcome addition to the literature on contemporary art in China. Its discussion of the impact of the 1997 handover on contemporary art in Hong Kong serves as a model for any discussion of art in relation to cultural politics in East Asia. In fact, this reviewer wishes that when writing his own Art and Cultural Politics in Postwar Taiwan he had been able to read Professor Clarke’s book.’ – China Review International

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David Clarke is Associate Professor in the Department of Fine Arts, University of Hong Kong. His books include Art and Place: Essays on Art from a Hong Kong Perspective (1996), Modern Chinese Art (1999), and Water and Art (Reaktion 2010).