With its glitzy skyscrapers, neon lights, horse races and dancing parties, Hong Kong is typically portrayed as a shopping paradise, fashion and financial hub. However, this is one aspect of the city.
An exhibition, "Revolution and Romance," by Hong Kong photographer Meng Minsheng (1919-2007) at the M50 art hub, reveals the other side. More than 30 photographic works reveal a lesser-known facet of the city: scenes of the working class and ordinary citizens during the 1960s and 1980s.
Meng, who was born in Shanghai but grew up in Guangzhou, moved to Hong Kong in his youth to make a living. In the 1950s, he worked briefly in a film studio. Later, he and his friends opened a fast-food restaurant, where they also worked as "employees." But all that did not dim his enthusiasm for photography.
The vast majority of Meng's photographs document the social life of Hong Kong, particularly the low and middle-class working people – farmers, fishermen and dock workers – as well as their living and working conditions in workshops, factories, trams, tea houses, the workers' movement, municipal constructions, as well as social activities and folk customs.
But the photographer was doing more than just documenting Hong Kong's social scene. His photographs also feature staged works, both scenographic and subjective, that were striking and avant-garde, with a high level of skill. He reinvented himself as a set designer and scene artist using props he bought or borrowed and models he could find.
The exhibition also includes photographs of modern Hong Kong girls, youthful and lovely, dressed in trendy attire and smiling sweetly. They sat on the beach, basking in the sun, or stood on the yacht, taking in the sea breezes. It's Hong Kong's "romance" from more than 50 years ago.
Date: Through June 4
Venue: Ruipin Art Gallery
Address: Rm 4C-107, Bldg 4, 50 Moganshan Rd