“Hiking for me is a bit like drawing, because in my mind’s eye I’m continuously reconstructing the scene.”
– Stephen Wong Chun Hei
From 10 to 31 March, Bonhams Hong Kong presents Stephen Wong Chun Hei: MacLehose Trail, an online selling exhibition of a new landscape series by the critically acclaimed Hong Kong artist. The exhibition showcases more than 40 works including acrylic paintings and works on paper, depicting the picturesque scenery of the city’s landmark long-distance hiking trail. The works are the first time Stephen Wong has chronicled his journeys along the MacLehose Trail as a standalone series, having dedicated ten canvases to each of the route’s ten sections. An avid hiker, Wong sketched the sights en route and subsequently re-envisioned them on canvas. The volatility of memory constitutes the most personal manifestation of the artist’s unique expression.
The exhibition, which will be held entirely on the digital space, will showcase a small selection of works on Bonhams.com starting 10 March. From then, the rest of the series will be unveiled one by one via social media, as the artist takes on a ‘digital hike’, livestreaming details of each work from the section one to ten of the Trail. As the audience tunes in each day at specific times, they will follow the artist’s latest hiking progress until the show ends on 31 March, turning this interactive exhibition into a unique experience.
Stephen Wong Chun Hei commented: “It has long been one of my missions to paint the MacLehose Trail in its entirety. I could trek one or two section each time, but once in it, I never failed to feel that the city – let alone ourselves – can appear incredibly small, and what seems like individual hills are in fact connected. It might be a somewhat ‘greedy’ intention to capture the great expanse of the Trail as I did on the canvas. But through that, I’ve come to a closer understanding of the sort of space this city actually lives within.”
Marcello Kwan, Bonhams Head of Modern and Contemporary Art Asia, commented: “Bonhams is proud to be presenting – in the format of an online selling exhibition – this latest series of works by Stephen Wong. Stephen is someone I’ve personally known and admired for years. Be it the colour or the composition of his works, his signature depiction of nature navigates between the realistic and the fantastic, which now finds new possibilities in the MacLehose Trail series. As we immerse ourselves in Stephen’s evolving sceneries, we follow his journey from the vastness of space into the minute but charming details dotted around. The pandemic has inspired us to present the show in an online and conceptualised manner, with a heavy focus on social media. Via Stephen’s works, we’re all invited to re-understand the enduring philosophical theme: the relationship between man and nature.”
Hong Kong-based Stephen Wong Chun Hei graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Department of Fine Arts at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2008. Natural landscape is the key theme in Wong’s paintings, as he combines intuitive imagination and visual experience from his long hiking trips to create a mysterious sense of being familiar yet out of place. His works prompt viewers to ponder the harmony and conflict between man and nature. His recent solo exhibitions include Indoor Travelling with Objects (2021), Indoor Hundred Islands (2021), and A Grand Tour in Google Earth (2021), as well as the duo show Beside the City in 2019 with artist Yeung Hok Tak.
Opened in 1979, The MacLehose Trail is named after Murray MacLehose, Baron MacLehose of Beoch, the 25th Governor of Hong Kong. The Trail spans from East to West of the New Territories. Starting in Sai Kung, it passes through eight country parks before winding its way to Tuen Mun in the western end. The trail proceeds along a variety of natural scenery, from beaches and mountains to reservoirs and ancient paths. In 2016, it was recognised on National Geographic’s list of the world’s 20 dream trails.