M+, the new museum of visual culture in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, is pleased to announce Canton Express: Art of the Pearl River Delta (Canton Express), an exhibition dedicated to restaging one of the most historically and artistically important exhibitions of contemporary art from the Pearl River Delta region. Canton Express will run from 23 June to 10 September 2017.

Originally part of the historic exhibition Zone of Urgency curated by Hou Hanru in the Arsenale section of the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003, this exhibition is considered a major showcase of works by artists and non-profit cultural institutions active in the Pearl River Delta since the end of the 20th Century. Highlighting the impacts on the cultural landscape of the Pearl River Delta, this initial display emphasised the dynamic and unique conceptual contemporary art practices towards the everyday life from that that area, which were in stark contrast to previous interpretations of Chinese contemporary art that placed emphasis on realism, figurative styles and various political dimensions.

A collaborative project, the exhibition presented works from 14 artists and independent art spaces which presented their views via a wide range of media, from visual art and film to publication, with aims to weave a story surrounding the unprecedented process of urbanisation since the 1990s.

As the fourth exhibition to be held at the M+ Pavilion, a permanent space in the West Kowloon Cultural District that will host the museum’s exhibitions until the opening in late 2019, Canton Express will demonstrate the extensive research, conservation efforts and the museum’s commitment in preserving contemporary artwork produced for a specific condition, unfolding the fascinating stories on communities and support behind the original exhibition. This exhibition will also trace back to the rich cultural connections between Pearl River Delta and Hong Kong highlighting the chronology and present to viewers the results from this research, complemented by exclusive insights into the back of house and conservation methods. This exhibition celebrates the donation by influential Chinese collector Guan Yi in 2013, emphasising the unique role of collectors and the art community within the realisation of the original exhibition.

Featuring a wide range of works – including photography, sculpture, video, installation and archival materials, the restaging of this exhibition enhances these far-sighted experimentations on shaping a unique artistic language from this region. The 2017 presentation will include works by Chen Shaoxiong, Duan Jianyu, Feng Qianyu, Jiang Zhi, Jin Jiangbo, Liang Juhui, Libreria Borges Bookshop (Chen Tong and Lu Yi), Lin Yilin, Liu Heng, U-theque Organisation (Ou Ning and Cao Fei), Vitamin Creative Space, Xu Tan, Yang Yong, and Zheng Guogu.

The Guan Yi donation to M+ consists of 37 works that comprises the entire exhibition of Canton Express, and spans 26 years (from 1979 to 2005). In addition to the Canton Express project, the donation also includes works by artists Chen Wenbo, Duan Jianyu, Gu Dexin, Huang Rui, Huang Yongping, the New Measurement Group, Shen Yuan, Wang Guangyi, Wang Luyan, Wang Yin, Wu Shanzhuan, Xu Zhen, Yan Lei, Zhang Peili and Zhou Tiehai.

“The generous donation by Guan Yi manifested great trust and respect from the collection on M+’s capability and vision in preserving and showcasing the artwork,” said Ms Suhanya Raffel, Executive Director of M+. “Canton Express demonstrates the museum’s commitment to the institution’s donors, and celebrates the important role of collectors in the realization and the preservation of art.”

Canton Exrpess is an important project in two ways: it demonstrates the uniqueness of the artistic language that emerged in southern China, near where we are located, in Hong Kong; it also exemplifies how M+ as a contemporary museum plays a vital role within the ecology of artmaking through its research capabilities and institutional expertise,” said Mr Doryun Chong, Deputy Director and Chief Curator of M+.

“People often believe that the contemporary is too recent to require any deliberate maintenance. During the reinstallation of Canton Express, however, it made one realize the immediate need for documentation and conservation, because the ‘contemporary’ turns into the ‘past’ in the blink of an eye,” said Dr Pi Li, Sigg Senior Curator of M+. “It is our hope that this exhibition not only restages an important moment in the development of contemporary art, but also serves as a means by which to reflect and act upon these concerns.”

“It is my wish to see the concept of the Pearl River Delta and its art being taken forward by one of the best museums in the region,” said Guan Yi, collector. “M+ and the historically significant work seem to be the perfect match, and for the professional team at the museum to restage this exhibition, presents the ideal approach in my opinion. I look forward to the seeing the project realised again in Hong Kong, this time with the international curatorial vision of M+.”

The curatorial team consists of Dr Pi Li, Sigg Senior Curator of M+, Visual Art with Isabella Tam and Ethan Cheng, Assistant Curators, Visual Art, M+.

The Guan Yi Donation, 2013

Launched in 2001, Guan Yi’s internationally acclaimed collection — the first of its kind in mainland China — ranges in dates from the late 1970s to the present and is especially noted for its emphasis on the work of the ’85 New Wave, conceptual art and large-scale installations. The collection includes works by members of the Stars Group, a critical player in the beginning of contemporary Chinese art, and is also particularly strong in Chinese conceptual art throughout its trajectory over the last 30 years. Spanning the years from 1979 to 2005, the donation includes works by Cao Fei, Chen Shaoxiong, Chen Wenbo, Duan Jianyu, Gu Dexin, Huang Rui, Huang Yongping, Liang Juhui, Lin Yilin, the New Measurement group, Shen Yuan, Wang Guangyi, Wang Luyan, Wang Yin, Wu Shanzhuan, Xu Zhen, Yan Lei, Zhang Peili, Zheng Guogu and Zhou Tiehai. The donation also includes the complete work list of Canton Express, a historic exhibition that was a part of the 2003 Venice Biennale and was the first major presentation of contemporary art from the Pearl River Delta region on the international stage.


General Information

Exhibition Period:
23 June – 10 September, 2017
11 am – 6 pm

Wednesday to Sunday and public holidays

M+ Pavilion, WKCD

For further information, visit the website http://www.westkowloon.hk/en/cantonexpress  



Hong Kong’s museum for visual culture – encompassing 20th and 21st century art, design, and architecture, and moving image from Hong Kong, China, Asia, and beyond – M+ will be one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary visual culture in the world. Located adjacent to the Art Park on the waterfront, the museum building, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, is scheduled to open in 2019.

About West Kowloon Cultural District
Located on Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, the West Kowloon Cultural District is one of the largest cultural projects in the world. Its vision is to create a vibrant new cultural quarter for Hong Kong. With a complex of theatres, performance spaces, and M+, the West Kowloon Cultural District will produce and host world-class exhibitions, performances, and cultural events, as well as provide 23 hectares of public open space, including a two kilometre waterfront promenade.


Pi Li
Dr. Pi Li is the Sigg Senior Curator of M+. He has previously curated exhibitions including the M+ Sigg Collection – Four Decades of Chinese Contemporary Art in Hong Kong in 2016, Right is Wrong: Four Decades of Chinese Art in M+ Sigg Collection at Whitworth Gallery in Manchester and Bildmuseet in Umea 2015 and 2014; Under Construction at Tokyo Opera Museum in 2002; Moist: Asia-Pacific Media Art at the Beijing Millennium Monument Art Museum in 2002; Fantasy Zone at Art Museum of Dong A Daily in 2001 and Beijing Modern Art Center in 2002; Image is Power at He Xiangning Art Museum in Shenzhen in 2002. Previously, Pi Li served as the curator of Media City Seoul in 2006; and Director of the 2006 Chinese Contemporary Art Awards, and the Deputy Executive Director of the Art Administration Department at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA, 2001-2012). Pi Li earns his Ph.D. Degree in Art History from the Central Academy of Fine Arts.

Isabella Tam
Isabella Tam is the Assistant Curator, Visual Art, of M+. She organised M+ Sigg Collection – Four Decades of Chinese Contemporary Art (HK, 2016), Mobile M+: Inflation! 2013 and Song Dong: 36 Calendars in 2013. Prior joining M+ in 2012, Tam held curatorial positions at public institutions at the Hong Kong Visual Arts Center, and was a curatorial fellow at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in the UK. Her publications include Right is Wrong - Four Decades of Chinese Art of the M+ Sigg Collection (2014), Veil Unveil-works of Stella Tang in 2010.  

Ethan Cheng
Ethan Cheng is the assistant curator of the Visual Art department at M+. He organized the Mobile M+: Live Art exhibition (2015). Prior to joining M+, he was the assistant curator and project manager at Para Site.