Man with ladder II, 1982
Man with ladder II, 1982
Man with ladder II, 1982
Man coming out from himself I, 1983
Man coming out from himself I, 1983
Man coming out from himself I, 1983
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An eclectic mix of artworks showcasing local creative talent

The exhibition Hong Kong Experience – Hong Kong Experiment, at the Hong Kong Museum of Art, brings together an eclectic mix that highlights the changing art scene and showcases local creative talent.

Part of the exhibit includes Hong Kong sculptors whose work has reflected the influence of eastern and western thoughts on art and philosophy.

The global prosperity that ensued after the end of World War II allowed young people to again pursue careers beyond merely providing sustenance or supporting the war efforts. The war had normalized air travel, and as people returned to Hong Kong, they brought back with them foreign ideas and a hunger to learn more.

Hong Kong native Antonio Mak Yin-yeung (1954-1994) was a graduate of both Goldsmith’s College and The Slade School of Art, at the University of London.

Mak focused on Western media for his artistic expression. His favoured subject and medium were hybrid human forms cast in bronze. His sculptures often depict a figure distorted by a visual representation of the subject’s internal struggle. 

In his work, Man with ladder II, an anatomically correct naked man with hands stretched over his head is lifting what appears to be a brick, but his torso is extended by a fourteen-step ladder. A simple literal interpretation is that a man is risking everything by completely revealing and stretching himself to achieve some unnamed goal.

Similarly, Man coming out from himself I depicts a man with an internal struggle coming out. Given this title and that the sculpture has two men without clothes, the simple interpretation is not difficult to imagine. Hong Kong in the early 1980s was probably the only Asian city where it would have been possible to start a conversation about this topic.