Cartoonist Zunzi pays homage to HK's Paralympians

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 August, 2012, 7:41pm

Cartoonist "Zunzi" Wong Kei-kwan gave his lampooned political heavyweights a rest to pen portraits as a parting gift for the 28 Hong Kong athletes heading for the Paralympics in London.

"I rarely draw positive cartoons. So usually if your face appears in a cartoon, it's not a good thing," said the 57-year-old artist at his Soho studio, where he usually satirises prominent figures in the newspaper.

Each cartoon illustrates an athlete looking vibrantly spirited while performing their sport; the portraits were then framed within a digital clock and given to the athletes as presents. "I wanted to show their positive attitude and their exuberance through my drawings, as well as the joy you can derive from sports" said Wong, who drew swimmer Chow Yuen-ying riding on Hong Kong's iconic pink dolphin. "Even though the athletes are disabled, they still demonstrate the same resilience as able-bodied ones.

"I was a bit worried at first because some people don't like to be caricatured, but I could tell the athletes have a good sense of humour and I have heard only good feedback," he said.

Wong came up with the gift idea earlier in the year when he was invited to judge an art competition for physically disabled pupils. He was moved upon learning pupils from the Ebenezer School & Home for the Visually Impaired created art by feeling texture, which inspired him to create the gift. "It was something I'd never seen before."

The artist knew little about the Paralympians, and studied photographs to pinpoint striking features.

He finally met all the athletes at a swearing-in ceremony of the London-bound Hong Kong delegation, who thanked him for his good-humoured portraits.

While drawing Tam Chik-sum, who is competing in wheelchair épée and sabre fencing, Wong said he tried not to draw attention to his wheelchair in the picture. "I've drawn him sitting with poise and easy confidence."