Painting colourful word pictures
Compiled by Joyee Chan
Chinese calligraphy artist Forbes Francis Chung is holding his debut solo exhibition until September 30 at the HKICC Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity in Lok Fu. The 17-year-old's works are inspired by as diverse sources as monolithic image perception, Western posters and local political movements.
Six Young Post junior reporters talked to the young artist. Here, five of them recount their meeting.
Forbes was inspired by his art teacher and the legendary American abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko. He became passionate about calligraphy at 12.
'I get my inspiration from everywhere,' the young artist told us. 'If I see something on the street that I find interesting, or read a book that's exciting, I will draw it.'
Forbes says that after every project he feels a deep sense of satisfaction. Yet rather than rest on his laurels, he moves onto the next project.
Although a lot of traditional calligraphy is black and white, the student's exhibition displays plenty of colourful artworks.
Forbes believes that using colour allows him to experiment with different techniques and materials. His creativity is on full display in his award-winning piece, The City, which focuses on life in Hong Kong.
By combining traditional calligraphy with contemporary Western art, Forbes wants to breathe new life into an old Chinese art, which he feels is becoming extinct.
Forbes' artworks seem to fall into the category of modern surrealism, but the student artist feels that such labels are 'limiting and misleading'.
He decided not to add captions to his paintings so as to allow visitors to interpret their meanings freely.
Since Secondary One, Forbes has been trying out many painting techniques. But it's calligraphy fused with Western poster painting that gives him 'a large degree of variations', he said.
Chrysanthemum, his favourite piece, was the result of an accident. 'Usually the paint drips downwards before it dries,' Forbes explained. 'But it went upwards instead.'
Forbes does not just choose colours randomly; he chooses them to fit the themes of his paintings. He then expertly paints words with matching and harmonious colours.
Forbes is dyslexic, but does not let that get in the way of his art. In fact, his disability lends his works a unique quality.
The student has staged his exhibition with the help of his school after two months of preparation. It is a remarkable debut.
The student draws his inspirations for his art from all sorts of places, including other people's opinions or suggestions.
His attitude towards art, he told us, is 'give and take'. He stressed that the interaction between artist and viewers was very important in creating art.
'This exhibition means so much to me. It's going to be the starting point of my career,' he said.
The creative process can be challenging, but seeing a finished artwork is worth all the trouble, the young painter told us.
I asked Forbes what techniques he used in his artworks to make them colourful because Chinese calligraphy is usually black and white.
'I used poster colours in most of my works,' he explained, 'because I really love playing around with colours as I mix and match them.
'My artworks are done in mirror side reflection, which is different from other artists' work.'
I then asked him what he liked best about creating calligraphy.
'All the parts are very important and without one part, an artwork cannot be done,' he noted.
He stressed that every stage of the artistic process requires equal care and attention to detail.
Forbes is going to study at the University of the Arts London, Europe's leading arts and design school. He admitted that he will need to improve his English. He told us that he will be working hard to achieve his goals.