What is so special about outdoor art? If you think about it, whenever a new outdoor installation, permanent or temporary, appears on the city map, it instantly steals the spotlight. When it’s permanent it becomes a city’s landmark that attracts tourists from all over the world. Take the centerpiece of Chicago’s Millenial Park, “Cloud Gate” by Anish Kapoor or “Seven Magic Mountains” by Ugo Rondinone in Nevada desert. When it’s temporary, or ephemeral, it creates a buzz as well and gives familiar places a new vibe. As outdoor installations are often site-specific, they attach a different value to forgotten locations. Ordinary routes suddenly feel new and elevated with a fresh coat of paint.
One of the greatest goals achieved by outdoor art, in particular, is encouraging people to come outdoors. It often minimizes the distance between art and the viewer as art emerges at routine locations. So when we found out that Art Macao brought outdoor art installations to town, we went out to explore. Here’s our guide to Art Macao’s outdoor art installations to inspire you to go for an art walk yourself!
Contemplation of Lovingkindness, by Mok Yat San
An artist from the neighboring SAR, Mok Yat San has had his artworks exhibited at Art Basel for three consecutive years. If you wander around Art Macao exhibitions, you might notice a connection between “Contemplation of Lovingkindness” and another artwork–the fluffy colorful bears by Paola Pivi, a part of “Unexpected Encounters” at City of Dreams. But the similarity doesn’t end with the polar bears. Just like Pivi’s bear sculptures, the ones by Mok Yat San deliver an environmental message. As a matter of fact, his art is often driven by concern regarding environmental issues.
Melting ice formations and bears in the middle of a summery green lawn give a contradictory and unsettling feeling as intended. Bringing Arctic inhabitants into the middle of tropical Macau, Mok Yat San is reminding us that the climate crisis is closer to us than it seems. And as this inspiring installation will eventually vanish, so will the real glaciers and polar bears if action is not taken.
Where: Outside the Macao Museum of Art, Av. Xian Xing Hai, Macau
Silver Manned Horse No. 5, by Yu Fan
An artist from Beijing, Yu Fan makes sculptures of long-legged refined horses and touching, cartoon-like figures of men and women, combining Chinese and western sculpture techniques. Horses have always been common objects of sculpture. But contrary to the formidable and strong bronze animals, Yu Fan’s horses elicit much softer emotions. In his work, he seems to be guided only by his artistic intuition and not influenced by trends. Ultimately, his idea of creation is to let the material inspire and lead, without making detailed plans in advance. “I want to make things [by] not thinking too much,” the artist says.
One of the Art Macao outdoor installations, Yu Fan’s “Silver Manned Horse No. 5” is sitting in front of Nam Van Lake, seemingly resting and admiring the view. The sculpture is made of bronze and covered with car spray paint. This method of paint coating along with the artist’s recognizable style creates an impression of a mythical creature that can fade away at any moment.
Where: Anim’Arte Nam Van, Avenida Panoramica Do Lago Nam Van, Macau
The Wanderer, by Wong Ka Long
Born in Macau, Wong Ka Long’s art is influenced by a unique blend of history and culture. For his sculptures, he often chooses personas significant for Macau, such as Matteo Ricci, an Italian missionary or Luís de Camões, a renowned Portuguese poet. This time, Wong Ka Long put his artistic spotlight on another famous Portuguese poet, Fernando Pessoa and his concept of heteronyms. Pessoa created around 75 alter-egos and called them heteronyms. They had their names and biographies, wrote in different styles and had different, at times incompatible and extreme views. Some of them even criticized the work of others.
“The Wanderer” is a series of sculptures “wandering” around Taipa Houses Museum, standing at the terrace, gazing into Cotai Strip or rushing somewhere. All of them are different versions of Fernando Pessoa. The same outfit, but distinct stories. Taipa Houses Museum is an iconic spot on the city map that reflects the strong connection between Macau and Portugal. It would be hard to imagine a better place for this poetic and deep artwork.
Where: Taipa Houses, Avenida da Praia, Carmo area, Taipa, Macau
Happy Heads, Benoit+Bo
An artistic union formed in Tianjin, Benoit+Bo currently live and work in Brussels. Born in France, Benoit used to live in China where he met Bo, a Chinese native. Together they formed a duo that aims to bring their different cultural backgrounds and artistic methods, exploring a dialogue between Chinese and European cultures through painting, sculpture, installation and photography. No matter the genre, all their works are distinguished by bright, bold colors and contrasts that can be often found in French art. On the other hand, there are usually some attributes of Chinese tradition and oriental subtext in their art as well.
“Happy Heads” brought to the city as a part of Art Macao, are a part of Benoit+Bo series inspired by Chinese festive masks, a tradition that goes back to rock cave paintings near the Yangtze River. The masks are used in theater, opera, dance and festive events like New Year. By creating large installations or photographing themselves wearing “happy heads”, Benoit+Bo introduce festive spirit in everyday life and ordinary surroundings.
Installed at Jorge Álvares Square, Happy Heads were dismantled on August 15th. If you, unfortunately, missed the installation, you can still check the Benoit+Bo exhibition “Prosperous years” at Old Court Building.
Sanctuary, by João Ó and Rita Machado
João Ó and Rita Machado are two founding partners of Impromptu Projects, a multidisciplinary studio in Macau. They are architects, working both on long-term architectural projects such as the renovation of Grand Prix Museum and ephemeral structures made of bamboo. However, the latter is their artistic focus. Bamboo is their material of choice for a number of reasons. When João and Rita lived in front of the A-Ma Temple they paid close attention to the annual installation of bamboo stages for Cantonese opera performance. That attracted their artistic interest and from that moment they started exploring how to bring something contemporary into centuries-long tradition. Moreover, bamboo is a sustainable material—from scaffolding, it turns into an art installation and back, the cycle is pretty long and allows to reduce the waste that is common for other temporary structures.
The structure ended up at Mount Fortress garden, giving the place a new function and visitors, a new reason to enjoy the location. Rita’s and João’s goal was to stimulate interaction with the work, hence they hung bright red hammocks between the bamboo poles. If you saw “Sanctuary” on any day, you’d agree the goal was indeed achieved as there was always a line of kids and adults wishing to rest in a hammock.
“Sanctuary” was dismantled on August 25th.
When: June–October, 2019
How much: Free admission
For more information, check here
Outdoor art installations are a part of the mega international art and cultural event Art Macao.
Happening from May to October this year, Art Macao brings together cultural institutions, hotel and resort operators, consular missions in Hong Kong and Macau to create an unforgettable atmosphere and cultural vitality to thrill residents and tourists alike.