Hong Kong’s French tour de force
An installation by contemporary artist Cécile Bart is on display until 26 May, using her signature style where sequential paintings are strung with wire to challenge perspectives of depth, surface, light and movement. (Cécile Bart)
On 17 April, a tour de force of all that is quintessentially French hit Hong Kong.
Le French May’s two month cultural programme of art, music, theatre, film, cabaret, fashion and food includes more than 500 Gallic-inspired events, including 28 major exhibitions, 50 performances and 50 film screenings.
Highlights include the energetic drum show Les Tambours du Bronx, a global sensation where 17 performers create compelling rhythms with metal barrels, cymbals and wood (1 June), and an installation by contemporary artist Cécile Bart that consists of sequential paintings strung with wire in such a way as to challenge perspectives of depth, surface, light and movement (until 26 May).
For the first time in its 21 years, the festival is focusing on a specific theme: the 1920s. According to organiser Arnaud Barthelemy, consul general of France in Hong Kong and Macau, the 1920s was "a boiling period for art, fashion and society; the so called Crazy Years, when France was the centre of the art world".
One person that was at the height of his influence during that period was poet, artist, novelist and filmmaker, Jean Cocteau. The exhibition, Spirit of the 20th-century Parisian Scene (until 9 June) features 150 of his works, many from private collections, as well as 80 works by artists that he was said to have inspired, including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Andy Warhol. His famous film, The Blood of a Poet, will also be screened as part of the A Touch of Madness: The 20s cinema programme (until 31 May) that showcases films made in the 1920s (such as Cocteau's) or modern films set in France during that same period, including the Hong Kong premiere of Therese Desqueyroux (released 2012), the last film from noted director Claude Miller.
Each year, the festival highlights a region in France through performance, food and wines in Le French GourMay (until 31 May), and this year it is Burgundy in east-central France, one of the oldest wine growing regions in the country. More than 60 leading restaurants will feature specially created food and wine pairing menus; don’t miss the six-course menu using regional ingredients, such as snails, from two-star Michelin restaurant Spoon by Alain Ducasse, while hipster bistro, La Cabane, will be offering a range of Burgundy wines to be paired with cheese or classic dishes such as boeuf bourguignon.
The festival runs until 23 June; detailed information and ticketing information is available on the website, which also shows all that is happening on any given day.
Vicki Williams is the Hong Kong Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes sybariteunlimited.com.