The Emerging HK Artists Taking Affordable Art Fair by Storm


Hong Kong's Youthful Artists Take Affordable Art Fair to New Heights With Defining Art

Hong Kong’s leading Affordable Art Fair is set to welcome visitors in a burgeoning local art market from Aug. 4-7 in a showcase of local rising art forces and emerging artists at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Among thousands of contemporary artworks and artists collaborating with 60 local and international galleries and exhibitors, this year's Affordable Art Fair, led by fair director Regina Zhang, emphasises new and emerging talented figures creating accessible art for the masses.

This year's signature Young Talent Hong Kong programme is set to spotlight the creativity of emerging talented local youth artists, curated by international artist Jonathan Jay Lee.

U.S.-born Taiwanese-Hong Konger Jonathan, curator of Affordable Art Fair 2022’s Young Talent of Hong Kong, sees his mixed heritage and international background key to produce his digital artwork in Hong Kong and within the continental region.

“I believe the multi-cultured upbringing allowed me to appreciate the good and bad of [Hong Kong], understanding it from both an inside perspective and outside looking in,” Jonathan told The Beat Asia. “All of this is suggested in my Hong Kong work.”

Jonathan’s digital artwork, capturing streetside-everyday scenes of Hong Kong, embraces a comic book aesthetic to present a dreamlike depiction of classical Chinese spaces in the fusion-cultural city.

Using a “digital toolset” in his art curation allows him to follow his innate love for technology, “a practicality of material costs in an expensive city like Hong Kong,” and deliver client needs in urgency. “I don’t have the patience of waiting for paint to dry.”

Whilst Jonathan’s art approaches symbiotic and recognisable city spaces of Hong Kong, the artist concedes that his art could have a welcome of association with other Asian cities.

The snapshots of life captured within his series of artworks set to be displayed at the Affordable Art Fair in August follow Hong Kong stereotypes, vital symbolism of our internationalised city, and iconography familiar with a local Hong Kong pedestrian.

Delegated as the Young Talent Hong Kong curator, Jonathan said this title “is a huge honour” for him. “Any platform provided is an opportunity to have an impact, and as a former educator, this is a responsibility I don’t take lightly. AAF’s mission is entirely of respect for artists and Hong Kong within what AAF can do; I am humbled to be the one given that opportunity here.”

“I am very happy to work with AAF because they followed my career trajectory through all its ups and downs. AAF has truly listened to what I am trying to accomplish for the industry in general. In this instance embrace young talent and showcase the possibilities of what this city can nurture if it takes the risks to allow it.”

Jonathan cited privilege to showcase his “special project of work” alongside Hong Kong and international galleries at the Affordable Art Fair. “This collaboration with AAF is a nice reminder to stick to your values and principles because someone out there is listening, it may take a while to see a response, but it could happen if you keep on that path.”

Within this year's Affordable Art Fair, several emerging Hong Kong artists will have their artwork exhibited in a push to expose a local artworld to alternative figure, including artist Lauren Cheng.

Lauren sees her creation of her art series “Esora” in a unique crossroads breathing life into the burgeoning art space and offering an outlet for healing meditation for a mental health journey.

“I found healing from my decades long struggle with depression and anxiety through creating and hope to continue leaning into this practice to discover more of myself and how I choose to connect with those around me,” Lauren told The Beat Asia, sharing how her artistic work has centred in a journey to heal in what she calls “Creation Therapy.”

With her work meaning “painting in the sky” in Japanese, she cites her art as inspired by the awesome creator of God, reflecting in her delicate paintwork that employs shades of blue, gold, pink, and white to create celestial pieces exploring emotions and thought processes. She uses the Japanese philosophy of wabi sabi to understand that nothing in life is perfect – everything is incomplete, impermanent, and imperfect – to approach an artwork that she states represents “beauty within brokenness.”

“The process of creating messy abstract art has been incredibly healing and therapeutic for myself, and I found great freedom in letting go of expectation and the idea of needing to be perfect. Hong Kong people are known to put a lot of pressure on themselves to be perfect or reach some level of ‘success,’ but when people are able to put that aside to slow down and embrace the smaller, beautiful, broken parts of nature/life, there is great freedom to be found.”

In her abstract pieces, Lauren builds up in layers on a canvas, creating heavy texture and undulating strokes, to tell a story of how a person can create a satisfying life through gradual moments of joy, sorrow, grief, and love. “Each mark may not ultimately be seen at the final stage of the painting, but it still adds a certain layer to the piece and continuously adds depth to the piece."

She explained that her exhibition of her artwork at Affordable Art Fair as an emerging artist “is an incredibly proud and validating moment for me as an artist.” Describing the fair as a great steppingstone to future artistic opportunities, she stated her future art to be “as unpredictable as her process for creating work,” akin to her approach to a slower, more intentional way of living through her artwork.

Digital artwork ingrained with personal meaning can equally be seen with the introduction of first-time exhibitor Sophia Hotung, presenting her “Hong Konger Wall” with youthful Young Soy Gallery at the Affordable Art Fair mural.

To produce a digital mural presented in the fair, digital artist Sophia brings inspiration from her original “Hong Konger” magazine series, parodying old covers of the New Yorker magazine, to emphasise the accessibility and affordability of art and the collaborative nature of work presented in the fair.

“By drawing real people, getting them involved in the project, and sharing behind-the-scenes content of me creating art of them, I’m hoping to get people excited about being on a mural and hopefully be a ‘gateway artwork’ to more art at the AAF and beyond,” she told The Beat Asia.

Over the course of a month, Sophia collected 216 portraits of Hong Kongers posing with the South Korean K-pop-inspired love hand gesture to feature on the mural, mimicking a 1925 New Yorker cover to reaffirm Hong Kong’s international status with the crossing of multiple cultures in her art process and symbolise the city’s loving community.

“The finger heart, to me, symbolises everything Hong Kong has been through since its colonisation, to everything it’s going through now with the coronavirus, and the solidarity and love that Hong Kongers have for each other and our home to withstand these events. I have 216 real Hong Kongers on this mural wall who epitomise that statement.”

“The Hong Konger Wall is an assertion of Hong Kong’s actual identity as a melting pot of people from all walks of life. We’re a fun city. We’re full of fun people. We are having a fun time making art, being colourful, pulling faces, posing with our dogs. We’re resilient, we’re optimistic, and we’re diverse — and the fact there are real Hong Kongers on this mural — 216 data points — proves that in no uncertain terms.”

Sophia said by introducing the love hand gesture mural to the Affordable Art Fair, the digital artist hopes to attract Hong Kongers who may not previously have been interested in art to join the celebrations of local Hong Kong artistry at the August event. “If I can drag other fellow indifferent philistines to art events by drawing their faces on a wall, I hope they can latch on to something and feel inspired, lifted, or seen from the experience of going to an art fair,” she said.

The 2022 Affordable Art Fair Hong Kong is scheduled to be presented at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from Aug. 4-7, featuring thousands of contemporary and modern artworks from over 60 local and international galleries and exhibitors.

Tickets can be purchased via Eventbrite. The opening night ticket costs HK$165, family morning on Saturday and Sunday Aug. 6 and 7 costing HK$150, and a public opening and concession tickets costing HK$120.

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