Despite the heavy rains, high winds and cold temperatures I made it out to draw this picture from the Wan Chai pedestrian bridge. At least I was out of the rain (except for the occasional wind shift). Met quite a few people and even a couple gallery owners. I just feel lucky there are so many indoor spaces I can sit and draw outdoors.
And now a brief musing:
The nice thing about New Year is seeing all your old friends and catching up on things over the past year or so. And no surprise, Art in Hong Kong came up. The general consensus seems to be that Hong Kong is a soulless desert that wouldn’t recognize art if it showed up and bit it in the ass. (for the record these comments are made by Hong Kong citizens). Another way of looking at it is that Hong Kong just doesn’t know what quality is. Art here is like an empty box with pretty wrappings and a decorative bow. I tend to agree. But here is where I part ways with this point of view. My friends say that the cause of Hong Kong’s soullessness is China’s authoritarian government crushing the spirit of individuality. I disagree. Very good art has been created under oppressive governments or theocracies. People might not care for the subject matter, but this doesn’t make it bad or soulless. And, an oppressive regime does not explain the lack of art throughout British rule. I think the problem is that people here don’t know how to place monetary value on art. And Money is the common denominator for all things. Therefore when art is created here it is made as a marketable commodity, not something with intrinsic value. This is a major obstacle when trying to create a timeless and heartfelt work of art. But to be clear, art for art sake can be just as stale and soulless as any commercial work. To quote the Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting (The Zen Of Painting, 1679) “To paint with soul and no technique is deplorable. To paint with technique and no soul is worse.” Hong Kong’s soul is heavily invested in Adobe Photoshop and likes it like that. At least they can earn an hourly wage cranking out ads.
So what is my role in all this soulless mess? I don’t know and am not really too concerned. What I need to do is quit listening to my friends and just go draw something. If no one sees value in what I do, then I won’t be made to stop when Big Brother casts his eye my way. Here’s hoping this doesn’t get me blacklisted. ;P
For what it’s worth, I’m now linked to Twitter and will be tweeting my location while I paint or draw. Thanks to Andre for reminding me to give out my address: @john_hobbie