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Photographs

1950s Hong Kong Captured by Fan Ho

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Map of Hong Kong Island

Causeway Bay

What was once a core industrial hub of sugar refineries and ice manufacturers has in recent decades become one of Hong Kong’s most dense retail clusters of shops and malls, with local rent prices surpassing those of New York’s Fifth Avenue. Formerly a small fishing village, the area was expanded through the construction of a causeway. In the 1950s, the coastline was extended with reclaimed land from the bay during the construction of Victoria Park. In the photographs Dawn in Causeway Bay (1948) and Approaching Shadow (1954), the viewer can observe the relationship between light and landscape in two distinct visual approaches. The former depicts the idyllic bay setting of land and water prior to the expansion of the causeway, and the latter produces an abstract, geometric composition in a shadowy portrait of a fashionably styled woman wearing an elegant modern qipao.
What was once a core industrial hub of sugar refineries and ice manufacturers has in recent decades become one of Hong Kong’s most dense retail clusters of shops and malls, with local rent prices surpassing those of New York’s Fifth Avenue. Formerly a small fishing village, the area was expanded through the construction of a causeway. In the 1950s, the coastline was extended with reclaimed land from the bay during the construction of Victoria Park. In the photographs Dawn in Causeway Bay (1948) and Approaching Shadow (1954), the viewer can observe the relationship between light and landscape in two distinct visual approaches. The former depicts the idyllic bay setting of land and water prior to the expansion of the causeway, and the latter produces an abstract, geometric composition in a shadowy portrait of a fashionably styled woman wearing an elegant modern qipao.

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(Left) Dawn in Causeway Bay , 1948. (Right) Approaching Shadow , 1954.

Aberdeen

Tucked in the western corner of Hong Kong’s Southern District, Aberdeen features a wide-mouthed bay that forms a natural harbor shielded by islands. Due to its favourable setting, it was a hub for the fishing industry for centuries, and later became a major shipbuilding centre after the rise of the city of Hong Kong. It served as a high-traffic entry point for large shipments from around Asia. At the time when the photograph Evening in Aberdeen was taken in 1958, the harbour had become a strategic industrial location, one that provided local residents with employment in a range of factories. The photograph captures the ethereal mist and sublime light that grazes the water as ships arrive at the docks for the evening.  

Sheung Wan

In Sheung Wan today, the history of the neighbourhood as a dynamic trading outpost for Chinese communities across Asia remains alive, with busy streets populated by importers, wholesalers and retailers selling dried seafood products from around the world. It continues to be a place where you might stock up on abalone from Japan, sea cucumbers from Indonesia, salted fish from Bangladesh, and medicinal herbs from mainland China. The streets of Sheung Wan have been spaces of movement and exchange since the mid-19th century, when communities of overseas Chinese from various parts of southeast Asia established markets on this northwestern stretch of Hong Kong Island set between Central and San Ying Pun. In Street Scene (1956), the photograph’s vertical framing captures a characteristic viewpoint of the neighbourhood’s families in motion within the mountainous, sloped terrain of the city and the historic architecture and everyday objects of the 1950s. 

Central

Located on the north banks of Hong Kong Island, across Victoria Harbor from Tsim Sha Tsui on the Kowloon Peninsula, Central has been the primary centre for trade and finance since the early years of the British colonial era in the 1840s. When the British arrived, the area was designated for military and administrative facilities. The area was zoned for Westerners, and Chinese residents at the time were restricted to other areas of the city such as Sheung Wan. To this day, following the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, Central remains a dynamic zone for the local government and administrative sectors, as well as the city’s central business district. In Afternoon Chat (1959), the high-contrast image renders an urban underpass with majestic beams of sunlight as city-dwellers of various generations move through the bustling neighborhood of Central. This snapshot of everyday life reflects a rare glimpse of afternoon leisure time in an otherwise fast-paced, commercial setting.

Sai Wan

In the western region of Hong Kong Island, Sai Wan has been home to Chinese and European settlers since the 1840s, and features the neighbourhood known as Kennedy Town. It was once part of the historical Victoria City, with Belcher Bay and Victoria Harbor to the north, and was the site of the Battle of Hong Kong, which broke out on the same day as the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II as one of the first battles of the Pacific War. Taken in the post-war period, the photograph As Evening Hurries By (1955) displays a man traveling with a cart along the water’s edge, revealing the storied waterfront property of European-style buildings receding into the background at dusk.

Hong Kong through the Lens of Fan Ho
14–30 June 2017 | Hong Kong

For cocktail photos, click HERE

SELLING EXHIBITION IN HONG KONG

14 – 30 June 2017
Monday - Friday: 10am–6pm
Saturday: 11am–5pm
Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays

*The gallery will be closed at 12 – 3pm on 20 – 21 June for a private function.

Sotheby's Hong Kong Gallery
5/F One Pacific Place, 88 Queensway

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