Something new: saving faces

Hong Kong’s concrete-box apartment blocks are a frequent subject of Daphne Mandel’s work. In one painting, elaborate scenes are detailed in miniature inside each apartment window. In another, an orange apartment block sits atop a banyan tree.

One of Daphne Mandel’s artworks depicting Hong Kong’s high-rises.
Mandel grew up in Paris, France, and later studied in the city of Versailles. Leaving the grandiose, 17th-century architecture of Versailles for Hong Kong’s modern mash-up of shiny skyscrapers and concrete monstrosities shocked the urban planner and landscape architect into setting free her inner artist.

Architectural projects in Hong Kong are, according to Mandel, “conceived purely as individual objects with complete disregard for the existing site”. But she concedes that everything somehow manages to coexist and this provides inspiration for her art.

Mandel’s works makes use of acrylic paint, pastel, crayons, collage and digital printing. The multimedia approach reflects the many textures and materials used in Hong Kong architecture. The result is bright, colourful art that is somewhat surreal, but also has a sense of humour.

“Hong Kong Facades”, an exhibition of her work, is on display at the Man Mo Cafe in Sheung Wan. The recently opened cafe serves East-meets-West dim sum, with dishes such as foie gras xiao long bao and truffle Brie dumplings.

“Hong Kong Facades” will run until May 17 at Man Mo Cafe, 40 Upper Lascar Row, Sheung Wan, tel: 2644 5644. Opening hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 12 to 3pm and 6pm to midnight, and Sunday, 11am to 6pm. For more information about Mandel’s work, visit