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HKFP Lens: Alexis Ip and Stefan Irvine capture Hong Kong’s disappearing architecture and street culture

An upcoming duo exhibition, titled RECONSTRUCT, features Alexis Ip‘s scenes of nostalgic street vendors, juxtaposed with Stefan Irvine‘s scientifically accurate panoramas of the disappearing tong laus.
Stefan Irvine & Jörg Dietrich 'Waterloo Road, Yau Ma Tei' (Hong Kong, 2017) Courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery (Copy)

‘Waterloo Road, Yau Ma Tei’ by Stefan Irvine and Jörg Dietrich. Photo courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.

The exhibition will be held from August 9 to September 15, at Blue Lotus Gallery at 28 Pound Lane, Sheung Wan.
Stefan Irvine & Jörg Dietrich 'Ki Lung Street, Sham Shui Po' (Hong Kong, 2014) Courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery (Copy)

‘Ki Lung Street, Sham Shui Po’ by Stefan Irvine and Jörg Dietrich. Photo courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.

Stefan Irvine’s work focuses predominantly on Hong Kong’s Chinese “shophouse” buildings – a type of tenement architecture at one time popular throughout southern China for both residential and commercial use.
Stefan Irvine & Jörg Dietrich 'The Blue House, Wan Chai' (Hong Kong, 2019) Courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery (Copy)

‘The Blue House, Wan Chai’ by Stefan Irvine and Jörg Dietrich. Photo courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.

Irvine often makes several trips to each location, painstakingly capturing the entire facade of the buildings at precise intervals and distances.
Stefan Irvine & Jörg Dietrich 'Wah Fu Estate, Pok Fu Lam' (Hong Kong, 2017) Courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery (Copy)

‘Wah Fu Estate, Pok Fu Lam’ by Stefan Irvine and Jörg Dietrich. Photo courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.

In collaboration with digital artist Jörg Dietrich, the images are digitally merged and manipulated into one expansive, seamless image, creating a singular visualisation of an entire city block.
Stefan Irvine & Jörg Dietrich 'ToKwa Wan Road' (Hong Kong, 2014) Courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery (Copy)

‘To Kwa Wan Road’ by Stefan Irvine and Jörg Dietrich. Photo courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.

This stitched perspective allows the viewer to experience the life of a whole street with greater detail and more information than can be achieved in one single shot.
Stefan Irvine & Jörg Dietrich 'Tung Shing Lei Road, Yuen Long' (Hong Kong, 2015) Courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery (Copy)

‘Tung Shing Lei Road, Yuen Long’ by Stefan Irvine and Jörg Dietrich. Photo courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.

Several of the blocks showcased in the series, including Shanghai Street’s listed shophouses, have been earmarked for demolition or significant redevelopment by Hong Kong’s Urban Renewal Authority.
Alexis Ip 'Wai Kee Aquarium (Wanchai)' (Hong Kong, 2019) Courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery (Copy)

‘Wai Kee Aquarium (Wanchai)’ by Alexis Ip. Photo courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.

Ip’s renditions of street scenes and vendors reflect his childhood memories of growing up around Kowloon City. Through his collages he reorganises his photographs back to its original three dimensional state, highlighting the quirky and creative aspects to how street vendors display their products.
Alexis Ip 'Shun Fat Steel Utensils' (Hong Kong, 2019) Courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery (Copy)

‘Shun Fat Steel Utensils’ by Alexis Ip. Photo courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.

The technique itself points at the innumerable details and layers that exist in the real life scenes by cutting each one out.
Alexis Ip 'Barber Shop and Locksmith' (Hong Kong, 2019) Courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery (Copy)

‘Barber Shop and Locksmith’ by Alexis Ip. Photo courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.

“Normally we see everything three-dimensionally but in photography everything is turned two dimensional,” Ip said. “What is so special about my works is the two dimensional is turned back into three dimensional though many layers.”
Alexis Ip ' Chau Kee Paper Offerings' (Hong Kong, 2018) Courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery (Copy)

‘Chau Kee Paper Offerings’ by Alexis Ip. Photo courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.

“As a result the most ordinary street scenes like a vegetable or fruit vendor which people hardly pay attention to become magical.”
Alexis Ip 'Fa Yuen Street' (Hong Kong, 2019) Courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery (Copy)

‘Fa Yuen Street’ by Alexis Ip. Photo courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.

Blue Lotus Gallery said that both artists tell stories of Hong Kong’s rich heritage by responding to its disappearing architecture and street culture.
Alexis Ip ' Lung Kee Dried Seafood (Tsuen Wan)' (Hong Kong, 2019) Courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery (Copy)

‘Lung Kee Dried Seafood (Tsuen Wan)’ by Alexis Ip. Photo courtesy of Blue Lotus Gallery.

“Art imitates life and RECONSTRUCT shows two artists who creatively reorganise reality in order for us to see it more clearly, and in effect better remember, cherish and learn from it,” said a gallery representative.

HKFP Lens: Alexis Ip and Stefan Irvine capture Hong Kong’s disappearing architecture and street culture