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【Intimate Portrait】Sense and Sensibility / Li Ka-fai, Ziggy

What do you associate when you come across adjectives such as fluffy, round and lovable? Most of us may think of girly knick-knacks or cartoons. But what if a man is drawn to fluffy stuff, and creates round and endearing characters? There is nothing “unmanly” about it, of course, and the male gender is fully entitled to “being cute”, too. Li Ka-fai, Ziggy is the man of cute. A graphic designer and illustrator by trade, Li has also dabbled in arts research and handicraft. While his mind is usually logical and practical as required by a designer, deep down he is also a man of sensibility. Bringing out forgotten childlike qualities and warm fuzzy feelings are some of the effects his works have on his audience.J: JCCACL: Li Ka-fai, ZiggyJ: What prompted you to embark on arts research? And what does being a freelancer mean to you? L: I had been teaching drawing part-time, and originally planned to be an arts teacher in a secondary or primary school upon my completion of a diploma in education. After an internship, however, I realised that teaching arts at school is not at all how I expected. It was difficult to concentrate on teaching with a heavy load of administrative duties, not to mention the big classes I had to look after. Therefore, I decided not to pursue a teaching career despite being offered a position. Coincidentally, at that time an acquainted professor invited me to assist with her research on arts theory, I accepted the offer and, five and a half years flew by, I had supported the research, as well as designed the interface of the related webpage and mobile application. Being a freelancer is a one-man band. There are definitely more things to learn than a normal desk job. I rather enjoy liaising with the clients. I used to be annoyed and unwilling to compromise when met with demanding clients. But I have since learned to identify their concerns and perspectives, which is quite useful in having a persuasive discussion. Whenever I finished a project, I feel “levelled up” and elevated to a new phase in life. J: Are your works usually inspired by everyday objects? What usually draws yourattention? L: I like to observe and take pictures of objects that resemble human faces, such as power sockets – with two circles and a straight line staring back at me as if they were alife. (Ed: This is called Pareidolia in study) Some years ago, I participated in the “Between Objects” exhibition at the Hong Kong Baptist University Communication and Visual Arts Building, which showcased our connections with everyday objects. For this exhibition, we borrowed three erasers and recorded their history, including the time spent with their owners. The interesting thing about erasers is that they are rarely used up completely, but seem to grow legs and would go missing suddenly. Meanwhile, for the work about a crayon – Getting Old in One Painting, I drew inspiration from human growth. When we grow up, our height increases, life experience accumulates with age. On the contrary, a crayon simply “ages” and reduces in size by every “living” day. J: There is a delicate if not youthful and feminine touch in your drawings. Is this soothing and adorable visual style somehow reflective of your mind? L: I am used to doodling with felt pens and markers. This is how my character Fat Boy, with beady eyes and a round figure, was created. At handicraft fairs, I am often told by customers that they are surprised to know these illustrative works are drawn by a man. I think this drawing style may be related to my preference for fluffy things, as they remind me of my comfort blanket from childhood. Even as a grown man, I am still rather childish (chuckles). Original article【JCCAC Intimate Portrait】: https://www.jccac.org.hk/?a=doc&id=7564

【Intimate Portrait】Heterotopia in Art / Sze Mei-ting Muses

Heterotopia is “the other space” – an existence that is both real and unreal, between physical space and utopia (virtual space). Besides cinema, museum and zoo, where else can we find heterotopia in reality? Graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and a Master of Arts Fine Art at the University of Reading (UK), emerging artist Sze Mei-ting, Muses has chosen ceramics as her primary medium for sculpture. Sze uses sculpture as her potent response towards different spaces. What would her ideal arts space look like? Perhaps her studio is an archetype of a heterotopia. J: JCCACS: Sze Mei-ting, Muses J: What motivates you to explore the themes of “animal rights” and “heterotopia”? S: After watching some videos on the ins and outs of slaughterhouses during my undergraduate years, I decided to become a vegetarian. It also led to my creation of a series of works on animal rights, including this photorealistic oil painting. On the front, viewers see the portrait of a pig, while the edges show patterns of pork meat. It alludes to the fact that a pig, no matter how “cute”, will eventually be consumed one day. Nevertheless, more recently I tend to touch less on animal rights in my arts because I think writing about it and activism are probably more effective and suitable. Besides, I prefer my artistic creations be purer in essence. Heterotopia is a concept elaborated by French philosopher Michel Foucault to address the differences between a real space and a utopian space, and to describe the otherness and significance when combining the two together. There are plenty of heterotopias around us, with zoo being an example. A zoo may look like a utopia for humans and animals, but in fact it is an illusion constructed in the realms of reality. An arts space also shares the same qualities between reality and virtuality. Therefore, I wish to challenge the boundary of this subject through the interaction between arts and space. J: The biggest differences between studying arts in Hong Kong and the UK... S: In Hong Kong, the bond between tutors and students is very strong and intimate. We keep in touch even after graduation. For example, I had the opportunity to learn from ceramicist and CUHK alumni Sara Tse after graduation. In Hong Kong, education is generally more inclined towards spoon-feeding, while in the UK it is more focused on academic freedom and proactive learning. Professors encourage students to delve into a topic they pick by themselves, and students are expected to be self-motivated and to dig deep with the resources available. Galleries and museums visits and internships during my time in the UK had been life-changing experiences for me. J: I understand that you were engaged in arts administration part-time at the Oi! arts space. What was the most memorable exhibition or arts programme you were involved in? S: “Play to Change” was a rather memorable programme that spanned more than two years. We co-organised 19 exhibitions with 19 different groups of architects. I was mainly responsible for arts administration, as well as translation and editing of promotional materials. The biggest reward from this programme is a true understanding of community arts. I was also able to learn from the architects for their insight and ingenuity on the handling of spaces. Original article【JCCAC Intimate Portrait】: https://www.jccac.org.hk/?a=doc&id=7740