Li Pak Huen
What is the biggest difference between print art and other painting mediums for you [[as an artist]]? Are there any subjects you are particularly fond of when painting?
I have always liked to draw. In particular, I am fascinated by flat, compressed, simple and crude lines and images. Print art is unique in that, regardless of the type of print art, the image has to be prepared in advance before being produced through specific processes. The printmaking process is its own limitation. You need to know how to work with its rules and constraints while achieving your desired effect. For relief printing, for example, the colours need to be processed separately. This is different from painting in which the effect of each brush stroke is readily observed. Although print art requires more planning, an unparalleled sense of simplicity can be achieved through this approach. Print art may not be as flexible as a drawn painting. Nevertheless, the constraints are what make this art form unique and the reason why I love this medium.
My subjects are mainly rooted in life and based on my observations or images derived from my experience and feelings. Specifically speaking, the element of “people” can be found in most of my works. From my third and fourth year of university to recent times, I started to discover “scenery”. Although my focus remains on people, scenery is discovered through human eyes, thus forming a connection. As we enjoy the scenery, we are actually surrounded by the scenery itself. This is a touching image infused with warmth. For this reason, subjects in my work include not just people but also scenery and objects.
The topics of your works sometimes involve community news. Do you often feel touched and empathetic towards other people’s experiences?
I think so. Whether it was the community news or the people and stories around me, I tend to be easily empathetic and feel touched by their genuine experiences. When someone shares with me what he/she is facing, I am not always able to verbally express to them that I understand. But I can understand on an emotional level. So it is only natural for me to put these feelings from the people, community, society and world into my artistic creations, with the works serving as a response.
I also draw illustrations. They are often creatively inspired by my own experiences or by how others feel. My drawings are motivated by my desire to communicate to others through the art work what I feel and how I digest this plethora of feelings. I hope my audience will understand that he/she is not alone and that other people can sense their feelings, too.
Image courtesy: the Artist
Are there any recent events/interesting happenings in your life that resonate with you as possible creative elements?
Recently, several partners and I have been planning some comic works and exhibitions. The element that I am most eager to incorporate into my work now is the scenery of Hong Kong. This is an era of diaspora and Hong Kong has experienced tremendous changes in the past several years. Some people choose to live abroad on a short-term or long-term basis while others can no longer come to Hong Kong.
I am not talking about sensitive political topics, but simply the affection for a place. For people born in Hong Kong, many of their life stories took place here. If I were to leave one day, I would surely miss Hong Kong. I can put myself in the perspective of those living elsewhere, and therefore want the scenery of Hong Kong to be the setting of the comic work. This helps to organise and preserve the life here and allows the readers to experience the city in motion again through reading. At the same time, I think that it is good to move forward. With the sense of affection and longing infused into the book, I want the book to travel far and wide like a piece of luggage with the experiences here becoming a source of nourishment in life.
How did the idea of publishing the zine Juvenile come about? What are some of the biggest challenges you encountered in publishing the zine?
I am not an artist especially keen on making my presence known. However, as I hope others may look deeper and further through my works, the idea of co-founding a magazine started around university graduation. I then started the small art zine Juvenile and built a platform of exchange in which creatives could publish their works and gain more exposure as they were profiled in the zine. The zine will hopefully lead to fruitful exchanges and benefits for those involved. My own works also appeared in the zine to take part in the exchange. The zine establishes a space for people to read and experience the art works. The readers may also gain more insight into the creatives and the experiences that shape their creative outputs.
There are plenty of challenges during the production of each issue. Typesetting is especially memorable for me as it directly contributes to the quality of the reading experience. The texts, for example, should not be too long while white space provides better visual communication and even an element of surprise for the readers. Each aspect needs to be just right and one needs to learn from mistakes.
Image courtesy: the Artist
Do you find any similarities between zine production and artistic creation?
While a zine is a form of artistic creation, it requires more attention in actual operational aspects such as typesetting, printing, publication and promotion when compared to artistic creations.
Their similarities lie in the fact that both are very independent by nature. In both cases, the motivation for creation can be very straightforward. There is no need for extensive planning and one can start simply with a preliminary idea. Both can be presented in any suitable format.
Are there any goals you wish to achieve in the future for your creations and publications?
In terms of creations, I hope my works will collectively form a “locale” through which people in their daily lives can feel connected. This requires a creative volume achieved with more regularity, more discipline and a resilient spirit. And this is a goal I aim to accomplish.
As for publication, I will be focused on the production of Juvenile with the goal of publishing ten issues. I wish to maintain both the quality and quantity of content to reach out to a wider group of creators and audiences, introducing the work to more people.
Image courtesy: the Artist