Santé! A toast to the French
Andrea Yu puts on her beret and picks out the best events at this year’s magnifique Le French May arts festival
It’s that time of the year again, when all things Français invade Hong Kong, showcasing the best of the European country’s visual arts, performing arts, film, food and fashion over 10 great weeks. We’ve picked out the events you Gallophiles won’t want to miss. Allons-y!
Picasso: Masterpieces from Musée National Picasso, Paris
With more than 40 paintings and seven sculptures, this exhibition is a must-see as it marks the city’s largest-ever display of Picasso’s works, made possible only by the Musée National Picasso’s extensive renovations until next summer. You can check out amazing Picasso pieces like The Barefoot Girl and Woman in Red Armchair. But the highlight of the show will undoubtedly be his Portrait of Dora Maar — Picasso’s iconic painting of the French woman who was once his lover and muse.
May 19-July 22, Heritage Museum, $20.
Le Centaure et l’Animal
It isn’t often that horses, music and dance share one stage – unless you’re part of the Théâtre Équestre Zingaro, founded by former French horse trainer Bartabas. Le Centaure is arguably Bartabas’ most personal production, where he plays both author and performer. In the show, two men mingle with their equine dancing partners – giving a whole new meaning to the term ‘horsing around’.
May 14-15, 17-19, Kwai Tsing Theatre, $580-$250.
Arrêts de Jeu
Something about dance apparently brings out the kookier side of the French. This performance from Pierre Rigal and Aurélien Bory sees their memories of the 1982 World Cup semi-finals realised as a dance that is as solemn as it is absurd. The show explores the idea of game and the celebrative rituals of sport. Hong Kong is no stranger to Bory as his robot-inspired show Sans Objet recently ran at the Hong Kong Arts Festival. Apr 18-19, Youth Square, $280-$160.
If you’re new to French opera, this well-loved romantic story is the best way to experience it. Composed by Georges Bizet, this production from Opera Hong Kong features an international cast under the direction of Philippe Arlaud. Rinat Shaham shines as the fiery Carmen while singers Jean-Luc Ballestra and Jean-Pierre Furlan round out this tragic love triangle.
May 10-13, Cultural Centre, $880-$130.
Le French GourMay
Aside from being an awesome play on words, Le French GourMay is a chance to showcase the best of French cuisine in the city. Featuring wines from the Bordeaux region, French restaurants, bars, chain stores and culinary schools are running special menus and promos throughout the month.
May 1-31, citywide, see website for outlets.
Playgrounds: Contemporary French Photography
Hot on the heels of last year’s well-visited Philippe Ramette exhibition comes another outdoor photo exhibition at the Avenue of Stars featuring three French photographers. Retired lamp-maker Gilbert Garcin only started his photography career at the age of 65 and snaps surreal black and white shots of himself in various situations and dressed in a black overcoat. Stéphane Couturier’s building façade shots feature a uniform repetitiveness that is as fascinating as it is dizzying. Lastly, Alain Bublex displays unfinished construction works as an alternative view of a city.
Until May 2, Avenue of Stars, free.
... and five more events!
“My Way” by Jean-Michel Othoniel
He’s known for emotive art installations spanning from the 1980s to today that explore the transformation of materials.
Macao Museum of Art, Apr 25-Jun 17, MOP5.
Cities in Cinema: Paris – Hong Kong
A selection of films that draw parallels between the two cities, featuring Paris or Hong Kong as the subject or background.
Various venues, May 5-30, ticketing TBA.
An Ode to the Complexion
A history of Western cosmetics and skincare.
Pacific Place, May 23-Jun 5, free.
The six-piece band from Rouen play a live set of happy indie-rock.
May 2, Hidden Agenda, $250 adv, $300 door.
In The Steps Of Petipa
Five works from Marius Petipa performed by the Ballet De L’Opera National De Bordeaux.
Jun 6-7, Cultural Centre, $880-$280.
Le French May runs from April 12 to June 24. See here for full schedule: www.frenchmay.com