Avenue of Stars – where the statue of Jacky Chan holds court – used to be really out of reach for those staying in Kowloon’s doyenne of its many luxury hotels, The Peninsula Hong Kong. It always used to be a nightmare trying to get to it from the other side of Salisbury Road – the only way was by a complicated subterranean passage, from Nathan Road through the below-ground shopping mall of the Sheraton and then right through Sogo department store to rise up above-ground. Now, after years, about nine years, says the gal, the authorities have put in a street-level zebra (pedestrian) crossing.
Oh what a difference this makes! In my hectic life, it is truly a blessing. I wake up in lovely end suite 1817 of The Peninsula Hongkong, look down at the harbour, do the usual exercises and get ready for a run. I go through the gorgeous lobby, empty but for the floral lady, and head straight across the road. In between the road and the start of Avenue of Stars, a full 100 yards, I pass some strategic art, so big that no-one will pinch it – and anyway this is Hong Kong. Love this silver shape, reflecting and distorting in a way that makes you laugh.
And isn’t it extraordinary that seeing obese sculptures makes you smile, whereas seeing an obese real person triggers a completely different reaction. Chinese artists seem to have taken domination of such vaguely anthropomorphic shapes, both in two-dimensional print form and also in sculpture. Even W Taipei has got into the act: all its bedrooms have a tiny ‘person’ shape, in bright red. I think also of the two leaning men by Zhu Wei, Xian sculptures in Mao clothes, leaning forwards as they protect, so to speak, the entrance to Ritz-Carlton Millenia in Singapore
Then I realise that the Chinese have not taken 100% of this genre. You could say that the English company DAKS – actually Japanese owned, by Sankyo Seiko – is going into sculptural art with this fashion display in Hong Kong’s Pacific Place (I was walking through from the Admiralty MTR station to Conrad Hong Kong. Back to mainstream sculpture. Colombia‘s Fernando Botero also does bloated shapes, as seen in the main lobby of Four Seasons Miami and, en masse, in the main courtyard of Waldorf Astoria Grand Wailea on Maui – there are also several in the streets of Cartagena, which I will be revisiting shortly as I continue my progression of the world’s top luxury hotels. For now, it is time to move to what is fast becoming the most enjoyable, and worthwhile, hotel investment conference…