Your outlook on life shapes the way you lead it. In our series of interviews with six Hong Kong artists, we not only explored artistic passion, but we found new fresh perspectives. We continue to hear new inspiring voices with of our ongoing Pursuit of Happiness Art Exhibition.
Our encounter with Hong Kong artist Vincent Wong has taught us the value of “mind over matter”. Unlike the other participating artists, Vincent’s interest in the arts only peaked in his adulthood. He has since specialised in a variety of art mediums centred around the theme of peace and serenity of nature. Even though already in his forties, the fire in him burns as bright as his younger artistic peers.
You’ve stepped into the art industry as a late bloomer as compared to most artists. Is this a boon or bane for you?
I find great satisfaction doing what I love, no matter what age I am at. I appreciated design but somehow fine arts was never on my radar in my younger days. Indeed, I only started dabbling in the arts about six years ago.
While juggling my full-time administrative career, I have since studied painting and art history at Hong Kong Art School and have continuously built up my portfolio.
I truly admire the tenacity and drive of younger artists who make art as a career. Opportunities might probably be greater when you start off young.
The position that I am in is a blessing in disguise. I don’t feel the added burden to produce works as a form of deliverables tagged with a deadline. In other words, I get to produce satisfactory artworks based on moments of inspiration and an ideal state of mind.
I’m lucky to be immersing myself into art at a healthy phase of the industry. With more galleries and exhibitions popping up, it is heartening to see a growing number of Hong Kongers appreciating art on a wider scale.
How has art changed you?
Art has truly opened my eyes to how I see things beyond its surface. I now live by the expression “a picture paints a thousand words”. I learn more about the human connections by actively participating in urban sketching outings and joining art societies to do volunteer work through art.
One time, I volunteered at an elderly home and hit off well with an old man there. While we were chatting, I offered to do a live portrait sketch of him. With each and every story he shared, it helped add details to my drawing of him.
Portrait drawing became more than an outline of a man seen from skin-deep — it was one’s life story frozen into a frame.
Once when I was sketching outside a Tin Hau temple in Wan Chai, a handicapped man started chatting with me after a session of worship. Conversations with strangers like him who share more of the history of a certain place or an artefact add more life to my artworks.
You’ve participated Tree of Life’s charity outreach before the exhibition. Can you share more about your experiences?
The arts community in Hong Kong is tight; like the other artists, I’ve encountered the co-organiser Eugene (from Geneyclee Gallery) at a previous art function. With trees being a recurring theme of my artworks, I immediately jumped onboard the collaboration with the charity organisation Tree of Life just by the name itself.
Joining the dinner banquet for the less fortunate was nothing short of heartwarming. It was a homey affair. The people I met there were genuinely cheerful individuals, despite their respective rough backgrounds.
There were sing-alongs and sharing sessions. I got to share my own life experiences and offered words of encouragement to them. It struck me that, no matter what religion or walk of life you’re from, what most of us humans needed was a listening ear and empathy.
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It warms my heart to have been part of something of such great energy. People who are marginalised by society still bravely faced their problems to better themselves. I’m glad there are organisations like Tree of Life that uplifts people and offer a sense of belonging.
Tell us more about the motivation behind the work you’ve displayed at the exhibition.
Much of my influences are expressions of my feeling towards the natural world. Nature evokes a sense of comfort and peace for me; I always aspire to share these positivities through my art.
The works that I have displayed is an abstract series of three mixed-media collages, which includes dried flowers and watercolour. Each respective works are influenced by the signature painting colours of renown artists that I admire — Paul Gauguin, Joan Miró i Ferrà and Vincent Van Gogh. The collages capture the peaceful relaxation felt when one lies under a big shady tree.
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Beyond just the feeling that I hope the work invokes based on first sight, I wanted to share values that came with the time and processes that went behind the work.
I like to think I am eco-friendly. The leaves and flowers I use in my work are never plucked. I only pick fallen ones and dry them by sun and wind. Picking up these similar colours is no easy feat. It takes patience and discipline to gather a collection according to the set of colour tones.
The creation process teaches me to never take my daily life for granted. I’d like to think that everyone’s daily life is already an inspiration translated into a masterpiece.
Ultimately, I hope to capture this synergy with the Tree of Life’s initiative.
What is your definition of the pursuit of happiness?
Achieving happiness, especially where I am at in life now, comes in stages. Being in my forties, my life experiences have taught me that we as humans control our happiness through our mental state of mind.
I’ve learnt that it is important to always give yourself a peace of mind and handle matters, no matter the difficulty, rationally.
Always find the positivity in the things you do. Getting involved in the arts at a later stage in my life teaches me to treasure my passions more and integrate it into my daily life.
The joy you find from the simplicity of life is extraordinary.
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What: The Pursuit of Happiness Art Exhibition
Where: theDesk, G/F, 511 Queen’s Road West, Sai Ying Pun
When: Until 15th February 2018 | Monday – Friday, 9 am – 6 pm
Transport: HKU Station, Island Line, Exit B2