Beautiful monsters beguile viewers at JPlus Hotel by YOO Hong Kong

December 19, 2017



Patrick Kasingsing

Flora and fauna take on humanized forms as the 8th artistic exhibition hosted by Hong Kong’s first boutique hotel, JPlus Hotel by YOO sought to explore humanity’s visceral and subconscious tendencies. Menagerie, Exotic Life Forms – Imagined Worlds, organized with the help of the prestigious Van Rensburg Gallery, and running from September 6 to December 22, features the fantastical and introspective works of five of the gallery’s stable of international artists, among them Madrid-based photographer Miguel Vallinas, collagist Janet Parker Smith and painter Vanessa Green.

The ground floor lobby of JPlus Hotel by YOO serves double-duty as exhibit space, with new art shows scheduled every 3-4 months.

Hosted within Art@JPlushk, the hotel’s dedicated art space and entrance podium, the exhibition’s multimedia approach complements the already whimsical and fantastical interiors of the space, originally penned by design maverick Philippe Starck and refreshed ten years after in 2014 by co-founder Mark Davison and protégé Gustav Szabo at design studio, YOO. From the color-tinted glass panels with Chinese coin, bamboo and dragon motifs overlooking Causeway Bay, to the loud colors and romantic curves of the Timorous Beasties sofa near the reception area, the ground floor lobby-cum art gallery space was designed to surprise and show-off, a fitting venue for an exhibit that delves into the ‘menagerie’ that is the human mind, what with all its fragmented and sometimes untamed thoughts, images and dreams.

Retrato Numero 1, limited edition 50, archival photographic print, hand textured finish 70 by 100 cm
Retrato Numero 63, limited edition 3, archival photographic print, hand textured finish 70 by 100 cm

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Among the artworks on show are a series of surrealistic portraits of animals, plants and everyday objects dressed as dapper gentlemen and dainty ladies, the work of Miguel Vallinas, who has brought to Hong Kong this acclaimed photographic series for Menagerie. Explorations on the parallels between human nature and our hidden, sometimes feral tendencies, as well as the concept of two-faced personalities, hidden desires and public perceptions are presented in these quirky and beguiling series of photographic prints where ducks, dogs, teacups and globes, and a bouquet of hydrangeas are given anthropomorphic treatments.

Read into it what you will, deconstructed book, digital prints, perspex box, 35 by 45 by 16 cm
Read into it what you will II, deconstructed book, digital prints, wire, deconstructed doll, 36 by 36 by 17 cm

Collagist Janet Parker Smith takes on a more environmental and survivalist stance with her works, which delve on the ability of nature to transform, adapt and survive with her host of three-dimensional collage-sculptures. Books were modified, altered and pasted on with children’s storybook images, sprouting doll heads, arms and legs that may appear unnerving and strange at first but ultimately carries a hopeful message from its artist. The books mirror today’s environmental destruction brought on by man’s uncontrolled and selfish desires. The images of child-like innocence however suggest a blossoming of trust and hope, and that all hope is not yet lost to address the damages wrought on by our unbridled consumption.

Opportunities, acrylic on board, 60 by 75 cm
Stealth, acrylic on board, 50 by 60 cm

The Dali-esque composition and color palette of Vanessa Green’s series of paintings depict a ubiquitous character, a black dog, which she says mirrors humanity’s uncontrolled desires and hunger. In ‘Opportunities,’ she paints the black dog as an ever-present observer from afar, and speaks of the need to keep such thirsts and longing in check and utmost control. ‘Stealth’ illustrates Man’s unquenchable want and lack of satisfaction even in the face of unchecked consumption. She paints the black dog salivating over a slice of cake trapped within a glass shell, unreachable yet oh so attractive to its canine admirer.

The first of its kind in Hong Kong, Art@JPlushk seeks to open the dialogue between art and the masses by being a willing community space for not just guests and hotel patrons but the everyday Hong Konger to celebrate and appreciate the beauty of art and design. It is a space that welcomes anyone from a budding local artist to internationally renowned names and galleries, all with the added convenience of artfully-designed lodging, where the art and the fun doesn’t end.

Open to the public and purchase by admirers and hotel guests, Menagerie is up for viewing in JPlus Hotel by YOO from September 6 to December 22, 2017. Visit for more information or read up on our piece on JPlus Hotel by YOO at

Images courtesy of JPlus Hotel by YOO

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