Home / Articles / M+ Restages Historically Significant Exhibition ‘Canton Express’
Canton Express 2017

M+ Restages Historically Significant Exhibition ‘Canton Express’

M+, the new museum of visual culture in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District unveiled Canton Express: Art of the Pearl River Delta (Canton Express), an exhibition dedicated to re-staging one of the most historically and artistically important exhibitions of contemporary art from the Pearl River Delta region. Canton Express is currently running until 10 September 2017.

Canton Express 2017
Canton Express 2017 at M+ Pavilion

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 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 display emphasises the dynamic and unique conceptual contemporary art practices towards the everyday life from that area, which were in stark contrast to previous interpretations of Chinese contemporary art that placed more emphasis on realism, figurative styles and various political dimensions.

Canton Express: Works From 14 Artists

A collaborative project, the exhibition presents works from 14 artists and independent art spaces which highlights their views via a wide range of mixed media, from visual arts and film to publications, in aim to weave a story surrounding the unprecedented process of urbanisation since the 1990s.

Canton Express ExhibitAs 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 demonstrates the extensive research, conservation efforts and the museum’s commitment to preserving contemporary artwork produced for a specific condition, unfolding the fascinating stories on communities and support behind the original exhibition. This exhibition also traces the rich cultural connections between the Pearl River Delta and Hong Kong, highlighting the chronology and presents to viewers the results from this research, complemented by exclusive insights into the back of house and conservation methods.

Featured Work

Canton Express 2017

Featuring a wide range of works – including photography, sculpture, video, installation and archival materials, the restaging of this exhibition enhances the far-sighted experimentations on shaping a unique artistic language from this region. The 2017 presentation includes 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.

Highlighted artworks include Zheng Guogu’s 2017 reiteration of Sample Room (2003), produced by Yangjiang using kitchenware to reference the ways in which local manufacturers sold to overseas markets through the use of sample rooms and communication technology. While most components of the 2003 installation were lost after the exhibition, Sample Room was recreated based on photographic records and detailed email correspondence on the work.

Canton Express 2017

The Guan Yi donation to M+ consists of 37 pieces that together 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.

Canton Express 2017Canton Express highlights our museum’s crucial role in promoting local and regional art and presenting it within a wider, international context,” said Mr Doryun Chong, deputy director and chief curator of M+. “The exhibition also proves that pioneering research into contemporary art conservation processes is essential to ensure that historically significant works produced can be enjoyed for the years to come.”

“Visitors to Canton Express will get a broad perspective on contemporary art produced at the end of the 20th century within the Pearl River Delta, including Hong Kong,” said Dr Pi Li, Sigg senior curator, Visual Art of M+. “With this exhibition, we are proud to offer an unprecedented glimpse into the museum’s philosophy and on-going efforts on collection conservation. The exhibition also provides interesting insights into a time when the art community in the region worked together to realise a historical exhibition under very challenging circumstances.” Canton Express 2017


General Information

Exhibition Period:
Currently running until 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


Weekend Public Guided Tours

Every Saturday during August and September, 4:30pm (except 9 September)

Limited capacity on a first-come, first-served basis. Please register on site 15 minutes before the event begins.

Conservator-led Gallery Tours

Canton Express features a wide range of works, each requiring various conservation and preservation measures to prepare them for display. In this gallery tour, Natalie Harding, the Associate Conservator in charge of object conservation, talks about behind-the-scenes stories and challenges, and shares insight on the importance of conservation for a museum collection

Speaker: Natalie Harding, Associate Conservator, Objects
Date: 9 September (Saturday)
Time: 4:30pm
Language: English, with Cantonese simultaneous interpretation

Prior online enrolment is recommended. Limited capacity is available on-site, please register 15 minutes before the event begins. First-come, first-served.


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.


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