Let’s start from the beginning: how did you first discover your passion for art?
I’ve enjoyed painting from a very young age, probably around the age of 5 or 6. I’ve always been a bit of an introvert, and painting has always been an outlet for me to express myself. I also really enjoy the reactions I’ve gotten from my paintings; when people see it I’ve found that it makes them happy, and I like that sense of empathy I can convey through the art. It’s a way to connect with people, and I feel like I’m much more effective and happy when I connect with people through my art than when I try to do so in person.
Why do you think art has that affect on people?
Well, I think painting is a language in and of itself. It’s why I always find it frustrating to have to convey a work of art using words you know, like with titles or captions or descriptions and things like that. I think art is very much a language and can’t be translated any more than, say, instrumental music. It’s why people have the relationship they have with art, whether you love or hate or connect with or whatever the relationship may be with any given work. This fluidity in how to interpret art, this ability to transfer empathy between an artist and a viewer, it’s all a very interesting process to me and is very much an endlessly enjoyable process in being an artist.
Are there anyone in your life or in art history that has influenced your viewpoints or pursuits as an artist?
My older brother was my first influence in life. We used to take art classes together when we were kids, and now he’s a graphic designer working for a fashion house. Other than my brother, I’ve always strived to have a variety of different mentors in my pursuit of art. I’ve always had 3 or 4 different art teachers at any given time, and I learn a different aspect or technique from each of them. In terms of art history, my favorite painter in history is Monet. I think his contribution to art history is absolutely unmatched by anyone else, and I love how groundbreaking his techniques and his concepts were.
When it comes to painting as the medium, how much of this language of art do you think depends on the technical ability of the artist, vs. how much do you think is conceptual and truly fluid to interpretation.
To me, there’s two different kinds of art, and both have their purpose in art history and the context of art in the rest of society. There is art that is very conceptual, perhaps political, and is art being used as a language and that opens a dialogue. Picasso is an example of someone who had his influence during the second world war; I guess Ai Weiwei is a good example of an artist like this from contemporary times. So this type of art is very ambitious and it’s great and it’s necessary, but obviously it is art that is also extremely difficult to execute and risky in the sense of the “message” if you will can very likely get lost out of context.
The second kind of art, and one that I find that as an overall category is also extremely necessary in society, is art that needs to be visually beautiful. I think art does have a very necessary function of inspiring people in their daily lives, even if it’s in those micromoments when they pass by a beautiful artwork in their home, in their office, in a building’s lobby, a restaurant, whereever. For myself, I have a grounded belief in the aesthetic and technique of paintings. I think as much as contemporary art is about the “conceptual”, I personally do still pursue excellence in the technique of my work and the aesthetic beauty is always something that’s on my mind when I’m creating works.
Let’s talk about this series you’re working on now: where did you get the inspirations for these?
This series that I’m making is very much inspired by my hometown and upbringing in Hong Kong. As you’ve noticed, there are lots and lots of buildings here, so many people walking around, the energy of this city is just endless. Growing up here and having my inclinations I guess, I’ve spent much time throughout my life looking at the windows and reflections of the buildings. To me it’s a very interesting notion that there is life on both sides of a reflective glass of a building, and the reflection itself, being so full of life and energy, almost takes on a life of its own, almost like a third world or third dimension if you will.
Tell us a bit of your methods when you paint.
I work mostly with acrylic to paint, but what I do that’s perhaps a little bit unique is that I put a layer of oil on top of the acrylic to give it that reflective aesthetic in this series. For these works that have a natural “melting” kind of effect, I actually use straight up water and spray it onto the acrylic paint while it’s still wet. I like having the colors flow freely and seeing how the work turns out. There’s a natural element of serendipity to it that I find very exciting.
Born 1993 in Hong Kong. Lives and works in Hong Kong
2015 BFA (Hons.), Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Lancaster, United Kingdom
2017 Metamorphosis, The Evolving Reflections, St. Paul’s Coedcuational College, Hong Kong
2018 In Search of Hong Kongness, Lita-Arti, Hong Kong
2015 Unearthed, Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Art, United Kingdom
Northern Graduates 2015, Curwen Gallery, London United Kingdom
2012 IB Visual Art Exhibition, Renaissance College, Hong Kong
2011 Hong Kong Geo Park Art Exhibition, Times Square, Hong Kong