Portrait of an artist: 5 Hong Kong creatives on their inspiration - Hashtag Legend

#culture /art & design


Portrait of an artist: 5 Hong Kong creatives on their inspiration

May 07, 2018

The Affordable Art Fair 2018 will bring to Hong Kong 119 galleries, 60 per cent from the Asia-Pacific region

The Affordable Art Fair brings artworks to Hong Kong that everyone can fall in love with. The international event, which also takes place in New York and London, is aimed at democratising art in all its forms. With everything from abstract works and sculptures to installations and photography, the fair is a celebration and an opportunity for attendees to immerse themselves in an interactive environment that combines international and local artistic trends. 

Affordable Art Fair will also host #ForArtsSake to help raise awareness on mental wellbeing, one of Hong Kong most pressing social issues, on May 18 to support Sovereign Art Foundation and Joyful (Mental Health) Foundation. The event encourages attendees to immerse themselves in a creative and inspiring atmosphere with an exciting array of international artists performing live to produce artworks to raise money for the charities. With #ForArtsSake, Affordable Art Fair renews its commitment to improve people’s lives through art. Over the past 20 years, the fairs have raised more than £1 million for charities worldwide.

To celebrate the event, we shot and caught up with five creatives whose lives are inspired and driven by art.

Stephanie Kelly

Stephanie Kelly

Can you tell us about yourself?

I am the fair director of Affordable Air Fair Hong Kong. My job is to try and create an accessible art experience for people in Hong Kong and to bring art to Hong Kong homes. Hong Kong is still very much a developing art market, which is changing and evolving rapidly. Affordable Art Fair is a global brand, one of the biggest organisers of art fairs in the world with 14 fairs in ten different cities. People have a thirst for knowledge here, so part of my job is also to bring fun, accessible and enjoyable projects to the fair. I focus on both developing the next generation of art collectors and on showing the importance of art.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I find my inspiration walking. I try and walk to work as much as I can. You need to immerse yourself in your surroundings, the best ideas come when you’re not sitting at your desk. We also try to immerse ourselves as much as we could in the local art scene going to exhibitions, presentations and galleries here and in China to see what’s happening. 

What do you think about the Hong Kong art scene?

The Hong Kong art scene is rapidly changing and developing in lots of different ways. Over the last ten years we’ve seen a huge growth in galleries, from less than 20 galleries back in 2007 to nearly 100 galleries. The digital disruption has also changed the landscape as galleries are moving away from the traditional brick-and-mortar model to a more experimental one with pop-ups, and in which art exhibitions and online presence are increasingly important.

Do you have any art pieces? Why did you choose them?

I fall in love with art and buying art is addictive. One of the pieces I love the most is by Rebecca Jewell, who is a mixed-media artist. The work is made of different feathers from all over the pacific that form the shape of a clock. If you look closer it has the details of the ships that first voyaged from the UK to Polynesia, Melanesia and Australia. We bought it for our wedding when we moved from the UK to Asia and is quite important to us.

What are your thoughts on Asian art and how that has evolved in the last few years?

I think it’s a really exciting time for Asian art and Asian artists because of the rapid pace of the changing market, which has been driven by the commercial sector. It’s like yin and yang, there is a balance and now we’re seeing more and more institutional openings. It’s a very exciting time.

Queenie Rosita Law

Queenie Rosita Law

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.

I’m a print designer and an artist. I have my own art design studio, called Art Production Q, which launched in 2014. We pair unique art images and art content with luxury and design items. We work with a lot of property developers to pair art images with interiors and collaborate with multiple brands to draw on top of products.

Where do you find your inspiration?

From my travels and in the nature. Every time I go somewhere I take my camera - I actually take the images to paint on top of them. I always search for the newest architecture and coffee shops in every location that I visit. My last travels was in Beijing.

What do you think of the Hong Kong art scene?

I think that from an international stand point, it’s growing a lot. Locally, however, it still lacks in opportunities for Hong Kong artists to express themselves and to show what they’re capable of.

Do you have any art pieces? Why did you choose them?

I have a few pieces here and there but I usually collect pieces of artists that I know personally. I have some pieces from the artists that I worked with for the City Book of Hong Kong and Singapore because I got to know them and find out how they get inspired and their creative process.

What are your thoughts on Asian art and how that has evolved in the last few years?

It’s getting more international and there is more global exposure because of the media and social media coverage, it’s getting a lot better in this sense.

Vanessa Wong

Vanessa Wong

Tell us a bit about what you do.

I'm an artist, I do paintings, drawings, illustrations.

Where do you find your inspiration? 

I find my inspiration in different kinds of consuming objects, pop culture, daily life, memories and my daughter.

What do you think about the Hong Kong art scene? 

Although there are many art fairs and art trades happening in Hong Kong, I think there are not enough opportunities for Hong Kong artists. Many good artists are forced to leave the industry due to the lack of resources as people in the city are usually concerned about money and profit, and relate the value of an art piece to its price, but art should be more far from that. Art education in Hong Kong is also still behind the that of many other cities. However, while I think the art scene isn't really healthy, Hong Kong is an amazing place with lots of interesting people and I still love it [laughs]. 

What are your thoughts on Asian art and how that has evolved in the last few years? 

It's great that we can see more different art works from different countries and cities in Hong Kong now. The scene in Asian cities  has evolved really fast in the past few years with the growth of technology and social media. The world is changing really fast these days.

JJ Acuna

JJ Acuna

Tell us a bit about what you do.

I’m an architect and interior designer based in Hong Kong with a studio in Manila, I split my time between here and there. I mostly work on commercial projects in hospitality like bars and restaurants.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I try to listen to the clients. My practice is almost like tailoring but for a space. After listening to the client’s stories and aspirations, I overlay them with studying the site and trying to figure out how to create a narrative, which is usually based on my imagination and what I see travelling or in a piece of art that I want to incorporate in the project.

What do you think about the Hong Kong art scene?

I think it’s quite vibrant and engaged with the rest of the world, more so now than ever before. These days you can definitely have a lot to choose from, from street to fine art. The art scene is also global and reflects the nature of the city itself, with lots of different stories and perspectives.

Do you have any art pieces? Why did you choose them?

The last piece I purchased is probably one of my favourites. It’s by Filipino artist Roberto Chebet, an ink and water colour on paper piece from his private collection. It’s geometric and monotone, I would define it as modern and organic and I love it because Chebet is one of the Philippines’ national artists and he also represents the modern movement of the mid-20th century. This particular work is very fresh and while it’s quite abstract I really connect with it.  

What are your thoughts on Asian art and how that has evolved in the last few years?

Thirty years ago, Asian art used to be very inward-looking in terms of the messages, dealing with local religious, social and political issues but now that we live in a very interconnected world, I think that a lot of the art from Hong Kong, the Philippines, Korea and other countries is becoming broader in scope and aesthetically connected to global influence.

Elle Lee

Elle Lee

Tell us a bit about what you do.

I am an entrepreneur, writer, influencer and speaker. I manage family funds, properties and try to diversity our investment both nationally and internationally with a positive impact on society. But most people know me online as an influencer and writer.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Things I see and people I meet. Since I travel almost once a week, I get to meet and see so many new people and places but also on online platforms like Instagram and YouTube.

What do you think about the Hong Kong art scene?

I feel it’s been growing but it's still quite limited in my opinion. It’s a great trading place, but not so great when it comes to nurturing and helping local artists to grow, which is a bit sad as I feel Hong Kong has such an unique culture that is rare to find elsewhere.

Do you have any art pieces? Why did you choose them?

Yes, I collect mostly contemporary artworks but antiques too. I especially like artists that highlight contrasts and contradictions in their works. I grew up in different countries and I was influenced by diverse culture too, so I guess it's natural for me to relate to artworks that evocate that. 

What are your thoughts on Asian art and how that has evolved in the last few years?

I love Asian art as it’s where my roots are from, and also because Asia is the place that is growing more rapidly on a daily basis. People didn’t pay much attention before, but with quite a lot of art pieces being auctioned at a world record, things have changed massively. It’s not just the art, however, as more people are getting to know more about Asian culture, they look at the pieces from a more emotional point of view.

Photography / Nic Gaunt
Make-Up / Karen Yiu, assisted by Regina Chan, Vincy Lee, Jennifer Ho and Bella Or from HK Makeup Artist  
Coordination / Bex Gaunt

The Affordable Art Fair will run from May 18 to May 20

This feature originally appeared in the May 2018 print issue of #legend  

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