Four neighborhood walls in Hong Kong just received a serious aesthetic makeover. This is what Converse’s Wall to Wall initiative seeks to do: transform urban blankness into expressive bursts of art. From Manchester to Lyon, Barcelona to Napoli, Portland to New York City, Converse has been commissioning renowned artists to paint up empty spaces with large-scale works that catch and hold the eye.
Now reaching the Asian continent for the Hong Kong edition, this Wall to Wall was arguably the most difficult. Even with HK’s relatively recent explosion of creative and cultural output, street-level art is still a rarity, and strict policing is still the norm. Yet, there is still a thirst for art that engages the people, and also an underground scene that’s trying to quench it. Converse has assembled a diverse cast of both local and international artists to make this a greater reality - and to bring art as close to the people as possible.
Previous Wall to Wall programs have been done in cities well-acquainted with street art. Jersey Joe, who got his start just as NYC’s graffiti culture was exploding in the 1980s, painted a vibrant piece earlier this year in Williamsburg, Brooklyn filled with squinty characters and a meta-work on a painted page. For the Manchester Wall to Wall, Faunographic created a four-storey-tall vine with rich purple flowers and a bold, yellow-chested bird that stood in sharp contrast to its industrial, brick-laden surroundings.
Hong Kong, on the other hand, has experienced a mostly private artistic turn. The people create, but largely in seclusion or in sanctioned venues. Converse - along with the participants in the HK Wall to Wall - have brought something into public view seldom seen by many residents of this Chinese megalopolis.
The artists include Onesto, a playful street art abstractionist and sculptor from Sao Paolo, Brazil; Buff Diss, an Australian graffer who has sworn off spray paint in favor of masking tape; French artist Charles Munka, a painter who uses collage and blending to create works that combine traditional graffiti with contemporary art imagery; and the IDT crew – a Shenzhen/HK-based trio that fashions surreal, hyper-effected compositions that blur the line between real and imagined.
Wall to Wall seeks to celebrate the borderless spirit of creativity by exhibiting temporary art pieces, and these artists have produced striking visuals that pop in a city that’s yet to experience a street art revolution. Dazed will be featuring these artists and their work for the Hong Kong edition of Wall to Wall, and we’ll explore how each of them formed their unbelievable works and what drives their creative psyche.
Project co-produced with Philip Rodgers
Photography by Jonathan Leijonhufvud