Trailing up to Upper Lascar Row, the mid-levels of Sheung Wan; we found those authentic Chinese treasure stalls closed, but an opening light shimmered behind the Cat street signature side shops with an inducing hint of conversation and a welcoming opened gesture.
Heading inside greeted by lovely smiles; the chapel like exterior ceiling of the gallery indeed suggested a pilgrimage like experience upon entering in. Titled “Meditation and Megrim”, this debuting and opening exhibition features an ambitious number of 7 artists, covering realms of painting, drawings, sculptures, sound, scent as well as food.
That was in fact one of the ultimate reasons why I anticipated for Popsy Room’s arrival. Highlighting their ability in submerging audiences with scent, sound, sights, tastes and feelings; this public welcoming gallery is the first in Hong Kong, let alone in Asia, a multi- sensory venue for those with different creative expertise to gather and create unique experiences bubbles for guests enjoy throughout the day.
By day, the venue is an art displaying hub and bakery stall; offering varieties of pastries to be paired with specific artworks for indulgence on spot or to take home. By night, a long table consumes the space, welcoming guests with culinary dishes assigned to accompany different works for a blanket wrapped sensual exploration of engaging art through accepting information from all 5 of your senses.
Founded by Jennifer Chung, I got to talk to her about the creation of such a venue, The Popsy Room.
“I was always fascinated with art and food. At an early age, I told my father I wanted to have a space which had levels for different engaging activities. Works would be exhibited in one level, a café would consume the next, and artist workshops and talks would happen in the other. He questioned me where possibly this tower of creativity could be executed at, somewhere in North America? At the end I chose Hong Kong, and here we are with the first multi- sensory art gallery.”
“At the meantime, we want to really let audiences understand our concept first; so we would be mainly hosting exhibitions and 9 course meals matched against the monthly exhibitions at night. Educational discussions, panels with art critics and artists as well as workshops will definitely happen at The Popsy Room later on.”
Sipping on their fragrant tea and misted with a blended aroma designed for the exhibition; guests were soon introduced to the participating artists, hearing out about their works and being served with scrumptious canapés that resonate from the initial works.
Manuel Rubio’s enamel painting took up a side of the gallery space with reds and yellows, out- bursting from the canvas splotches of colors and emotions. Smoothly finished with a dramatic blend; the Philippines born Rubio discusses upon psychological manner such as struggle and anger within the works “Innermost”, “Finding Nemo” and “Go with the Flow”.
Matching with the 3 pieces were color coordinated nibbles including a red beet and cheese bite size, a fried pumpkin cube and a truffle salad.
The peppered spicing within the salad do scream a similar motive as the painting; but most of the canapés are mostly color coordinated with widely acceptable tastes to ensure enjoyment, instead of really challenging the guests with tingles that would be rarely found anywhere else and completely unique to its associated art piece.
Don’t get me wrong though, the food done by Kaze Lo were really yummy; it would just be further memorable and more interesting when guests realize the true meaning of this studio’s objective and are thrown with taste bud surprises that may not be commonly associated with the commercialized term of being “yummy”.
Print Making graduate Yan Yung presents her ink line drawings for this exhibition, highlighting the importance of the color white in her works due to her personal experiences. Usually related to the absence of color when one talks about black outs; Yung oppositely relates the experience with white.
She believes in the power of white, and thus her drawings are all based on clean crisp white papers, tagged with witty and at times fearful images on top with bold lines of black.
Matched with her series is my personal favorite squid ink pasta in a creamy base sauce poured in from a tea pot.
Jun Cambel, hobby painter who emphasizes on the need in environmental protection displays three of his works, with one in the front of the studio in this Meditation and Megrim exhibition. Layered with textures in bold colors and hints of naturalistic elements; he abandons usual landscape portrayals and instead highlights on the suggestion of the effects or the potential realities from the dying nature.
With a sewn together blue ocean and a single slice left bark; the absence of common details triggers the mind to realize the absence of our protection to the environment.
Matched with his series is a mushroom cube and a blue icing cake.
Lighting up the room with his functional works of metals, wood and light fixtures; sculpture artist Sjors Van Buyten is actually much different from his cold appearing metallic works.
Grew up taking apart car gears, putting different things together, he jokingly admitted that he experimented a lot with industrial elements even when he lacked the necessary equipment during different periods of his life.
True to his intentions of being more concerned with the functionalities of his pieces; his works’ constructions might be mind boggling to understand, but the lit up light always rest assures the audience’s mind with bipolar sensation of homely emotions against the rusted metals.
Matched with this is a chocolate truffle cube on top of a crispy gold flaked chocolate slice.
Curator for music John Mahon took a journey through all these artworks just like each of the audiences, and at times he even had less information than guests of the night had. He bonded the whole show with its appearing emotions, ideas being expressed and colors used. Building a 30 minutes long track for the show; his music is constantly being played in the background and is also there for guests to enjoy on shuffles linked to headphones in the venue.
Last but not least, scent maker Kat Lai dug deep with earthy smells that not only lightens the body but also assists the cleansing of the soul for the exhibition.
Specific tree root extracted smells were used in the construction of this exhibition’s scent for the environmental awareness issue brought up by Jun Cambel, but at the same time the scent for used for its detox quality. With notes including lemongrass, fenel, eucalyptus, patchouli, vetiver, rosemary and pine; the impression was refreshing and indulging.
It might just be the opening of yet another gallery in town, but the ambitious idea of incorporating all senses for understand art is nothing small at all. Like the first introduction of 3D movie glasses; it is something that the public will soon be introduced to, to understand, to accept and become another norm of receiving information in life. I foresee the objective of The Popsy Room easily be spread by their participating artists and audiences, or even other artistic movements as it is just natural to indulge the the world of art with even single tingle of our senses.
The Popsy Room
G/F, 30 Upper Lascar Row, Sheung Wan
Exhibition: Tues – Sun 11am- 5:30pm
Show Time: Tues- Sat 7:30pm (By Reservation)
Written by Joyce Tsang