Street Art Meets Fine Dining in Hong Kong
Bibo, a new French restaurant in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, has all the trappings of trendy: mustachioed bartenders who hand-cut ice with a sword, a bar stocked with absinthe and rare Japanese whisky, and a secret entrance that keeps the restaurant hidden in plain view. But the rest of Hong Kong’s uber-hip eateries pale in comparison when it comes to one rather auspicious area—Bibo’s multimillion-dollar collection of urban art.
It’s almost an embarrassment of riches. From the moment I entered, I was bombarded by three Shepard Fairey wheat pastes and one of the restaurant’s three Jean-Michel Basquiat paintings. And that was just in the foyer. Art is, quite literally, everywhere at Bibo. The floors, ceilings and walls are dripping with contemporary art commissioned exclusively for the restaurant. Even Bibo’s plates are collaboration between French street artist JR and sculptor Prune Nourry.
“There were no rules,” said the bar manager as he poured me a cocktail made with organic egg whites. “We gave the artists complete freedom to do whatever they wanted with the space.”
For British street artist Pure Evil, that meant painting a woman’s head over a book case and dripping black and hot pink paint from her eyes to the floor.
Head to the bathrooms to see more creativity running wild. Here, a huge rhinoceros wheat paste by French artists Ella + Pitr sits alongside the eye-popping work of D Face. Tucked behind the bar, visitors can’t avoid the sight line of a set of sad eyes, in JR’s signature style, that appear to question their every move.
From just about any seat in the house, diners are likely to see one of Bibo’s eight Invader pieces, including a Rubik’s Cube interpretation of a Van Gogh self-portrait.
Although considered to be more of a nuisance than a true artist in his day, Hong Kong’s King of Kowloon is also represented quite prominently here. According to restaurant staff, Bibo spent upward of $250,000 for a scooter scrawled with the King of Kowloon’s graffiti.
Other favorites of mine include a slouching Mickey Mouse sculpture by Takashi Murakami, a Jeff Koons bubble animal, a Blek Le Rat ballerina stencil and a paint-splattered skull by Damien Hirst. And of course, there’s a Banksy too.