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Monday, 24 September 2012


"He's one of the most important artists of our time," I rationalized. I had to convince myself that crossing the harbour for the opening event of Yue Min Jun's exhibit was worth it, even though the rain had completely soaked my sneakers and the bottom half of my jeans. The raindrops were coming down so hard, they shot through my umbrella. Useless.

Thank goodness an empty cab finally came by just as I was about ready to give up my hunger for art in order to satisfy my hunger for food. It was almost 2pm.

"The Tao of Laughter" was set to launch in front of the Star Ferry Terminal, just outside Harbour City. Of course when we got there, all we saw were monolithic bronze sculptures of Yue Min Jun's iconic laughing man. It seemed they were laughing at the absurdity of it all. This was billed as one of the most important art events of the year. Hong Kong, despite its wealth and unquenchable (speculative?) thirst for contemporary Chinese art, was powerless to stop simple rain.

The event had to be moved to a gallery inside the shopping mall. When we got there, there was no Yue Min Jun. There was only Carina Lau and what looked like a million reporters. What were we all there for, really? To see another Hong Kong celebrity?

Dejected - and wet and hungry, besides - I dragged my companions to the food court to eat bad Korean. "This soup must have been made from a beef bouillon cube and hot water," Charmaine frowned, pushing her noodles around with her chopsticks. Chris didn't even finish half his Korean bento. I finished all of mine; carbs made me feel good, at the very least. Scarlett was just happy she had eaten before we left the office.

"Let's pass by the gallery one more time, see if he's there..." I sighed. I had to make one final attempt to see my art idol.

What little hope I had evaporated as soon as we got back to the gallery. It was practically empty. I scanned its entire length... and lo and behold, there was Yue Min Jun in a corner, conducting an interview with two reporters. I couldn't take my camera out quickly enough.

Scarlett and Charmaine waved goodbye; they didn't want to miss the start of Lady Gaga's perfume launch. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Chris gesture that he also wanted to leave. I signed for him to wait a few more minutes; I was already queued up for a photo with the master.

As soon as his interviews were over, I shook his hand and introduced myself.

"I'm James," I said. "May I have a photo with you?"

I shoved my Canon onto the hands of the bewildered media rep, who was perhaps wondering why I didn't have my own crew.


"Xie xie," Yue Min Jun said, shaking my hand. A smile spread across his open face - pretty much a mirror of the identical pink men with wide mouths and hundreds of teeth, in his paintings.

And I was happy.

Carina Lau
Carina Lau
So gay, I swear.
james gannaban & yue min jun painting
Three classics.
Yue Min Jun!!!
He likes stripes. Plus points.
Yue and Hy.

Gallery by the Harbour
Shop 207 Ocean Centre
Harbour City
Tsim Sha Tsui
Hong Kong

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