The world’s largest gaming hub, Macau has been enduring an economic decline in the last two years due to China’s anticorruption sweep. Gambling revenue generated by VIPs—predominantly high-rolling mainlanders—fell from 80 percent to 50 percent this year. Even with new resorts opening, such as the Hollywood-themed Studio City, the infrastructural allure was not enough to jumpstart the industry. Beijing is now considering governmental support to boost the economy of the Chinese special administrative region, particularly in the gaming sector.
Local arts initiatives are organized and subsidized by the Cultural Affairs Bureau (CAB), which puts on the annual Macao Arts Festival (5/1–31) and the Macao Annual Visual Arts Exhibition (5/8–8/2). CAB also oversees Tap Seac Gallery, which showcased 28 abstract paintings by Portuguese artist Nuno Santiago (3/21–5/10).
The 16-year-old Macao Museum of Art is the most active local institution that primarily showcases modern and contemporary Chinese art. In October, curators Feng Boyi and Wang Xiaosong presented new landscape paintings by Zhou Chunya (10/17–1/13/16).
Set in an 18th-century colonial house, Fundacão Oriente, Macau (FOM), is an outpost of the Lisbon-based organization, which conducts cultural and educational activities. FOM presented landscape paintings, photographs and video works by Cindy Ng Sio Ieng made during her residency in Portugal (9/25–10/23).
Established in 2007, Macau’s primary nonprofit space, Art for All Society (AFA), organizes exhibitions and events, and also has a branch in Beijing’s 798 Art Zone.
This year, AFA and FOM organized the sixth edition of AFA Autumn Salon, an open-call exhibition that showcased recent work by 29 young local artists (11/8–28). Alternative art space Ox Warehouse hosted the annual Macau International Performance Art Festival (12/1) with eight artists from Taiwan, China and Japan.
Some casino resorts have demonstrated their commitment to the visual arts. MGM Macau, in its continuing partnership with AFA, presented “Saudade” at its L2 Showcase space (6/18–9/30). It featured 40 works by 12 Macau-based Portuguese artists, including photographs by António Mil-Homens that juxtaposed old Macau with new building developments. Also displayed at the MGM Macau was the 1,200-kilo installation Valkyrie Octopus (2015) by Joana Vasconcelos, who represented Portugal at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. Made from 4,000 meters of fabric and beads, the work addresses colonial Macau (3/16–10/31).
Abroad, Macau’s collateral exhibition at the 56th Venice Biennale was a solo show of Mio Pang Fei’s abstract paintings and installations, which drew from his experiences during the Cultural Revolution (5/7–11/22). In Hong Kong, Galerie Ora-Ora featured seven Macanese and Macau-based artists in “Trace Element – Macau Contemporary Art Now, Hong Kong Station” (11/26–12/31), which included Konstantin Bessmertny, Nick Tai and Lai Sio Kit.
Poly Auction Hong Kong opened Poly Macau in 2015. The Macanese branch will hold its initial series of events in January 2016 (1/7–10), which will include a 100-lot sale, an art fair for young artists at the Grand Lisboa and a thematic hotel-based exhibition. In the same month will be the debut of Macau Art Garden (MAG). The government initiative will convert a historic building in the city center into an artist village that includes 40 studios, a gallery, a café and a retail space. Once it opens, MAG will be funded by the Society of Traveling and Entertainment of Macau Limited.