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By Photographize

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A clay artist whose works employ an exquisite realistic sculptural techniques accompanied by an extremely imagination. When he first touched clay for the first time (26 years ago), it was like clay was waiting for him. Clay became his best friend since then, and the results speak from themselves.

1. Please briefly tell us about your background. When were you first introduced to this field? 

I am now 57. I was born in Hong Kong. I work and live in Hong Kong as well. I remember the first time I held a pencil in 1964, I was only 4. I started to draw a wooden clock in my grandma house instead of writing. I haven’t stop drawing since that day. I especially liked drawing on the void space of textbooks during the classes. This empty space gave me unlimited imagination and helped me built my creative mind. This was the starting point that took me where I am now. I am so blessed growing up there. 

2.  We admire the exquisite level of detail in all your works. Does your creative process start from certain image in your mind, or do you seek for inspiration as you progress? 

Either way works and is a pleasure for me. My creative mind is free from anything. Anything could be an inspiration. Sometimes, inspirations come from nowhere or even from totally nothing. They just keep visiting me anytime they like. What I have to do is to just keep my door open. I also enjoy creating works spontaneously. This is a great way to let my inner self take over the job, in the absence of the thinking mind. The results are always surprising. 

3. Tell us about the slab building technique that you use. Do the forms of your sculptural work respond to the imagery or do you create forms as a result of a drawn image you would like to express and explore? 

Working with clay is always a challenge for many of us. Different kinds of clay have different characters. Getting to know its weaknesses and abilities is crucial. Otherwise, problems like cracking, air pockets, or even falling apart will occur during the drying or firing processes. This is especially important while working with porcelain, one of the weakest clays of all. Slab building and throwing can provide an even thickness throughout the whole clay body. It reduces the risk of having those problems. Then, I alter the clay body into sculptural form while it is still wet and soft. 


I don’t limit the ways in which I come up with ideas. Practically, many ways work for me. However, I enjoy finding thoughts without using the thinking mind. This state of being is like meditation. Thanks to having practiced meditation for years, I can do it anywhere and anytime I want. It is just like jogging, walking, taking showers, exercising, traveling, waiting for buses, working and even shopping in a crowded mall. Over there, I see things in 3D, everything looks real to me. Anything can be changed by me along with my thoughts. I can go to any place around the world or even the universe, I can meet anyone if I like to. There are no boundaries or limitations. Even time doesn't exist. I create, build and alter my work there like a magician. Sometimes I even get advice from the people there. Sometimes, some sculptural forms just appear in front of me without any of my input. I can go around the piece to have a clear 3D perspective. The whole piece of work can be completed in one visit, sometimes a few. I call this place ‘Imagine Nation’. For me, this is as real as our physical world.

When I return to the real world with these creations, I usually draw them on my notebook. Or I write down some important points in my cell phone. I may turn them into reality later on. 'Lucid Dream' and 'Open Mind' series are examples of this process.

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4. We’ve noticed that most of your artworks are made without adding color. However, you use color in many others. What can you tell us about the decision of including color into your works? How do you see the interaction between a plain artwork and one that use color in this society? 
When I create works in 'Imagine Nation', most of them are in white color. I would say it is a kind of light form. But it doesn't mean I have to follow these visions exactly. In fact, I sometimes introduce some changes. But, personally, I love white. It's the combination of all colors. I like its purity, innocence, calmness, peace, and I feel closer to where I’m supposed to be. If I could, I would use as few colors as possible. That's why I choose porcelain as my favourite material for my works. 
However, I sometimes create works purely using my thinking mind to express my feelings. In these cases, I use more colors to interpret the facts, like in 'A Piece of China' series, 'The Great Again Wall' and some of my early works like 'Karma III-The Battlefield' and 'Make Tea, Not War!'.
In addition, looking back, I used more colors in my early works. There are flesh and blood, fear and anger, hatred and anxiety. I chose those unpleasant ways to express my feelings towards things happening around the world. That was the real me in that period. I was holding my own ruler to measure what is right and wrong, good and evil. Then I reacted with anger and horror. Life is in progress. 10 years ago, my mother passed away after 9 months in bed. I saw her accept peacefully what life had given her. No fights, struggling nor complain. Then even pain went away. I found another meaning of life. Fight and struggle no longer exist in my path. Since then, my works express my feelings differently. I went deeper into my inner self to find peace and joy. 

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5. Many of your artistic works are extremely expressive. To us, this is what instantly defines your style. Expression of suffering, sadness, tiredness, and boredom can be seen in babies, kids and adult faces. Is there any meaning in the use such detailed facial expressions in your artworks? 
I am not good at words, so I don't speak much. On the other hand, I trust my feelings towards people. There are messages beyond what words can express. Facial expression is an example. It is an inherent language of all humans. Even a newborn baby knows it. It provides me with a way to express how I feel about the relationships between people and all things. And finally, it's all related to the word 'Love'. To me, the word 'Love' doesn't only represent the pretty things. Love is the combination of all our positive or negative feelings and emotions. Hate and fear are not the absence of love. They're just elements of it. We just swing from one side to the other. It's hard to stay still in love. That's why our emotions swift constantly. For example, we wouldn't feel sad if someone we don't love left us or hurt us. Parents push their kids to do some things they don't want in the name of love. War may start because both sides claim they want to protect their beliefs, a God they love. Sometimes we don't feel love until we lose it. We must learn how to love in the absence of love. That's why we say love is the strongest power in the universe. After all, love is everything. This is why you can find so many facial expressions in my works. 

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6. We find your series of artworks “Lucid Dream” fascinating. Please tell us where this idea came from and what inspired you. 
As I mentioned before, I created those works in 'Imagine Nation'. I can talk a little more about it. Over there, I can feel unlimited ideas are drifting in the air. Even though it's invisible, I know it's there. I just open my heart and accept whatever comes into my imagination. Creativity is like a playground or a game without rules. To get rid of the rules, we must let go our educated mind from parents, schools, society and our previous experiences. 
When I was young, I felt strange when people said their mind couldn't stop thinking. I wondered how come I can stop thinking almost any moment I want to. I thought I must have some kind of mental problem. Then I found peace and joy in it. I rarely get angry or anxious. I know that I am fine even though I don’t react towards things like most other people. If I must, I would say my inspirations are from how I choose to react to the things happening around me.

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7. Regarding your artwork “The great again wall”. Do you think any artistic work should contain a message? Do you look forward to transmit a message with your creative process? 
There isn’t any rule that we must have a message in our artworks. We all have free will to choose whatever we like. I believe everything that happens to be here must have a reason. It may not appear to be a readable message. We never know who's going to see it and how it may change others. This is, for me, the reason why an artist creates the artwork. It doesn't mean that this is the only meaning for others. 
So I really don't mind what the public feels about my work. It doesn't mean I don't care. I just don't expect my works to be interpreted the way I did even though I created all of them. I'm a person who trusts his feelings. It won't lie to me. I do wish the audience to trust themselves and to see my works without any input from others or even me. I accept whatever they feel about it. Everyone can have their own interpretation due to their grownup background, experiences, attitudes and characters. It means there can be unlimited meanings. I believe that if my work reaches or touches someone's heart, there must be a reason. That reason is more important than my work. My work sometimes acts like a wake-up call for them. I have received lots of positive comments from around the world. Messages sharing their feelings and stories on how my works speaks to them. Although they're just a small fraction of the people who saw my works, I feel so thankful and blessed that I have created those works. Every one of them is the fuel for my next creation.
I am non-religious but a new age thinker. I do wish to make a better world. Somehow, I couldn’t find a better way to do this as I am not good at any other territory. Thankfully, I found art. When I asked myself what art could bring through me, I became aware that I am sending messages from a higher side. It's all about love. 

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8. You are a well-known figure in this field and an inspiration for many young artists. Who are the artists that influenced and inspired you at the beginning of your career? 

For me, 'Being creative' is a natural thing and a gift that our universe gave only to the human species. It is a gift for all of us. People do it in many different fields. Science, technology, architecture, medicine, education, politics, sociology, ecology, written work, film making, performance art ... we wouldn't move on if we didn't have creative minds. We are all born to be creative. But not everyone is aware of it and uses it. I am just one of them who treasure this ability. The only thing left for me is how I am going to use this gift in the best way. I choose to share the goodness, love and joy to the world with my creations. 
I can't name an artist that had a tremendous influence on me. My mentor is inside me. If I may, I would say I admire and appreciate people who did great things for humanity, to help people with less power, to save our Mother Nature from man-made destruction, to care for all living beings, to fight for freedom, to embrace peace and to show great compassion to all beings. They are all our real teachers. We should always look up to them.

Our Mother Nature is another mentor for me, the most important one, which gave me the best lessons. Looking at the quiet starry night, I see no stars are misplaced. Looking at a tree, I see no good or bad leaves. Looking at a rocky beach, I see no right or wrong rocks. Looking at the wild world, I don't hate a lion for eating baby zebra. They're just doing what they really are. Looking at the human world, we're doing exactly what we are. I believe no two stars, trees, rocks, animals are symmetrical. They're all unique individuals doing what they are supposed to do, just like us. There is no right or wrong, good or bad, high or low. There is only how we choose to react, to love or not. Thankfully, we have many choices. Those choices will change us and create a new us.

9. What are the challenges that you encounter and the skills that they require? 
The first thing that comes to my mind is the limitation of space in Hong Kong, one of the most expensive cities in the world. It creates tons of problems in every process. Most local artists face the same problem of unaffordable space. A sculptor needs even more space. Practically, it limits the materials I can use and the size of my works. Fortunately, I still have free will. It can’t impose boundaries on my creativity. Furthermore, I find that limited space is actually good for me. Making smaller pieces means I can use lesser time to complete every piece. I can turn more of my ideas into reality, share more works with the world. Still, I deal with it with great joy.

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10. What do you dislike about the art world? 
I spent most of my time in creativity. I didn't study much about the art world. I know quite a little. For artists, I admire those who have great craftsmanship and really lay a hand on their artwork during the process. On the other hand, I also like all other artists who are passionate and truthful to art. Regarding the art world, frankly, there aren’t many things I hate or dislike. Even when I find something that I feel unpleasant about, that feeling wouldn't stay longer than a minute. Then I start to think about the positive reason why it happened to me and why I witnessed it. I can always find the answers, learn from it, and sometimes it even inspires me. It has become a hobby to discover the goodness in everything. Trust me, it's a gift indeed. We can’t hate something and learn from it at the same time. Like or dislike is just a kind of feeling for us to choose. I always choose the one that helps me grow. 
11. Please tell us about your future projects. What are your ambitions and goals for the coming years? 

I stopped doing art for more than four months due to the move of my workshop. Hopefully, I can start my creation in January 2018. Since there is a little more space here, I will try doing art with different media and techniques. 2018 will be a year of exploration, experimentation and an exciting year for me. Apart from this, I will continue my 'Lucid Dream' series. I am willing to keep doing this as one of my routines because there are unlimited resources of inspiration. 

Ambitions are unnecessary in my path. I don't have any specific item or position to pursue in this material world. I am not rich but I feel abundant. My goal is simple, to choose whatever I feel helps me create the best version of me till the end of this life. Life is a process of creation. I am aware that I can't direct it exactly the way I plan it to be. What I need to do is to keep myself undisturbed, live a tranquil life and listen to my inner guidance. Then life will bring me to where I’m supposed to be. Just like what I use to do. 

Issue N. 39 | Digital Format

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Issue N. 39 | Digital Format

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