Art of the Umbrella Movement: Part 1. Paintings and Sketches

Photo Essay: The People of the Umbrella Moavement

During the autumn of 2014, a student-led protest was held in Hong Kong. The protesters, calling for greater democracy and for the territory’s Chief Executive to be elected via universal suffrage, occupied streets in three districts: Mongkok, Causeway Bay and Admiralty. For more background on the protests itself, you can read my article: Photo Essay: The People of Hong Kong’s
Umbrella Movement

During the Umbrella Movement protests, many artists, designers and photographers got involved, with new artwork frequently appearing at the protests sites. This article showcases some of the paintings and sketches that were created and displayed. Future articles will focus on posters, banners, installation art and sculpture.

You can click on each image to view it at a higher resolution on Flickr or you can view the entire album at: Flickr Gallery Art of the Umbrella Movement Part 1.


Artist Flyingpig sketching at the Admiralty protest site:

Flyingpig is a young Hong Kong artist who specializes in watercolor paintings of daily life in local neighborhoods. For each painting, she tends to choose one dominant color to set the mood for the painting. During the Umbrella movement protests, she was mainly concerned with documenting the normal routines at the protest site.

Painting by Flying Pig (Umbrella Movement Art)

During the protests, participants spent the vast majority of time just trying to go about life as normal—eating, sleeping, getting supplies, talking do friends and doing school assignments. This sense of normalcy is reflected in Flyingpig’s paintings; barricades blend innocently into the urban landscape, protest tents looks like market stalls and people are just going about their usual business.

Painting by Flying Pig (Umbrella Movement Art)

She would sketch on site in a sketch book and after the paintings were completed, they were blown up, printed out and displayed at the Admiralty site.

Painting by Flying Pig (Umbrella Movement Art)

She is still very involved with social issues; for example, I saw her at an event held to preserve the Yen Cho Street Hawker Bazaar.

Artist’s Facebook Page:


Francesco Lietti

A woman contemplating paintings by Francesco Lietti:

Franceso Lietti is a Hong Kong-based artist and designer originally from Italy. When painting the Hong Kong skyline, he tends to use warm, earthy and vibrant colors that reflect both his Mediterranean upbringing and his appreciation for the vibrancy of Hong Kong. From a distance, Hong Kong is all silvery steel, grey concrete and deep green vegetation, but these cool colors don’t really do justice to the territory’s energy and liveliness.

Artist Francesco Lietti painting at the Admiralty site

He painted at different protest sites, inviting passers-by to add their own messages and pictures to the buildings. The first picture in this section shows some of the completed paintings that he put on display at the Admiralty site.

A passer-by adding her touches to a painting by Francesco Lietti
painting by Francesco Lietti: (detail view)

The artist’s website:


Miso Zo

Painting by Miso Zo

Miso Zo’s vibrant paintings capture the contrasting moods of Umbrella Movement protests. In one striking painting, policemen, their faces distorted with rage, blast a lone protester with pepper spray. The man stands still and resolute, with hands clenched at his side.

Artist Miso Zo working on a painting of a man getting a haircut

When I came across Misa Zo at the Admiralty protest site, he was working in acrylic and oil paint on a large canvas, the painting depicting a scene capturing the more peaceful side of the movement. In that painting, set in a quiet area a few blocks away from the main protest site at Admiralty, a man is getting a haircut in the middle of the road. As the protests dragged on, support facilities run by volunteers started appearing to cater to their needs—first aid stations, supply stations, a library an outdoor study hall, battery recharging stations, recycling centers and, in this case, a barbershop.

Artist Miso Zo standing beside a one of his paintings. The painting is of one the barricades that had been set up by protesters.

Artist Miso Zo

Miso Zo is pseudonym. He is a New York-based artist who was in Beijing during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. He also did some installation pieces during the Umbrella Movement protests.

Perry Dino

Perry Dino painting at the Admiralty site

Perry Dino is a an artist and a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. I came across him at the Admiralty site, where he was on an overpass beside the BBC news crew. ( His goal was to document the protest movement in a more expressive way. As he said in an interview with the South China Morning Post:

“I wanted to capture the moment by sitting down and painting what I saw,” said Dino, 46. “This issue was so important to the people of Hong Kong and I wanted to record it for posterity.”
(from: Perry Dino captures Hong Kong protests in oil on canvas)

[caption id="attachment_822" align="alignnone" width="650"] Perry Dino painting at the Mongkok protest site

Artist Perry Dino at the Mongkok protest site
Artist Perry Dino being interviewed on Nathan Road



Artist: Vin (Click on the image for a higher resolution version)

Vin is a Hong Kong designer. His ink on cardboard works were more overly political than many of the other artists. In one drawing, a lone figure clad in a rain coat, goggles and surgical masks and holding an umbrella asks “Who dressed me like this?.” At the beginning of the protests, police used tear gas and pepper spray on the peacefully assembled protesters, who used the umbrellas that they had brought to provide protection from the sun to protect themselves from the tear gas cannisters and the spray. The umbrella soon became a symbol of the protest. After that day, whenever police gathered in force in riot gear, the front line of protesters opposing them, would wear whatever protection they could scrounge up.

Another of his drawings deals with the suspected collusion between the police and organized crime members, the latter of which were involved in attacks on protesters.


chanqueen, Kay Cheung & Bear Pang

Sketches by Bear Pang, Kay Cheung and chanqueen

Like Flyingpig, chanqueen, Kay Cheung & Bear Pang are sketch artists who worked worked with ink and watercolor to document the protests. Their works were blown up and displayed at the Admiralty site. To save space, I have included two pictures from each artist, but you can see more of their sketches at my Flickr album (just click on any photo to go to the album).

Sketch by chanqueen of an art installation set up by students and staff from the School of Creative Media at City University of Hong Kong
Sketch by chanqueen of the Admiralty protest site
Yee Wo Street, Causeway Bay: Sketch by Kay Cheung
Umbrella Square (at the Admiralty protest site): Sketch by Kay Cheung
Sketch by Bear Pang
Sketch by Bear Pang

Miscellaneous Artists

Here are some of the other art pieces I noticed at the Admiralty site. These five paintings were labelled #PaintForChange, but I don’t know anything about the artist(s). If you happen to know anything, please leave a comment below.You can see higher resolution versions of the images in my Flickr album (

Oil Paintings (by #PaintforChange)

The painting by Jenn Chan below is a reference to a meme involving Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s surname, which sounds like the Cantonese word for ‘wolf’.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying as a Wolf (painting by Jenn Chan)

I spoke briefly with the artist who painted the next picture. It is an optimistic piece describing a dream in which birds return to a forest and the filling the air with their songs.

Umbrella Movement Art (at the Admiralty site)
Birds Returning
Birds Returning

Here are two more works:

Wolf Attack: Art of the Umbrella Movement
Police vs Protestors: Art of the Umbrella Movement
Police vs Protestors: Art of the Umbrella Movement

Notes: The Umbrella Movement in a Nutshell

The umbrella movement refers to the pro-democracy protests that took place in Hong Kong from 26 September to 15 December 2014. Protesters, who occupied streets in three districts, were seeking greater democracy and sought to have territory’s Chief Executive elected via universal suffrage. For more information, you can check out my blog post on the Umbrella Movement: Photo Essay: Hong Kong Protests

~by longzijun


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Color & Identity: Portraits by Hopare, Lita Cabellut & Gian Piero Gasparini

Untitled. Artist: Hopare; Ink, spray paint and acyrlic on canvas; Art Central (Avenue des Arts). Photo by longzijun

The artwork on this page features fascinating and colorful large-scale portraits by three European artists. Each artist uses his or her own special techniques and materials to explore themes of identity (To view any of the photos at a higher resolution, click on the image).

Lita Cabellut

Coral Flowers 05 (detail view). Artist: Lita Cabellut; Mixed media on canvas; Art Central (Opera Gallery). Photo by longzijun

Lita Cabellut, a Spanish artist of Romani ancestry, specializes in large-scale portraits (though she is involved in a wide range of creative endeavors such as photography, poetry and video). In her portraits, she strives to obtain a realistic, almost luminous skin tone via the use of carefully selected media and pigments.

In her coral series of portraits, the canvas is pockmarked with tiny holes, bringing to mind coral skeletons. In Coral Flowers 05 (shown above), the vibrantly colored explosion of hair is like the living coral covering the surface of the reef. In a coral reef, the living coral organisms are anchored to the framework of the reef, a framework built of coral skeletons. Similarly, for humans, we live for ourselves but are still anchored to the culture, heritage and genes of our ancestors. We live in a present built upon the framework of the past.

Coral Flowers 05. Artist: Lita Cabellut; Mixed media on canvas; Art Central (Opera Gallery). Photo by longzijun

Artist’s website:

Video: How Lita Cabellut grew from street child to an internationally renowned artist (by the Economist)



Untitled. Artist: Hopare; Ink, spray paint and acyrlic on canvas; Art Central (Avenue des Arts). Photo by longzijun

The human face is a favorite subject of Hopare, a Paris-based street artist. Rather than going for a strictly realistic style, Hopare uses bold colors to evoke emotions and moods and superimposes geometric lines and curves on the faces. In the untitled painting shown here, the bold black lines and curves bring out the natural geometry of the subject’s facial structure and are also reminiscent of Maori tattoos (known as moko), which represent the identity and history of the wearer.

Artist’s website:



Gian Piero Gasparini

Guen. Artist: Gian Piero Gasparini; Cotton on Wood; Affordable Art Fair Central (Palma Arte). Photo by longzijun

Italian artist Gian Piero Gasparini works with mosaics of painted cloth. Gasparini is fascinated with the relationship between personality and outward appearance and the way the two react to form one’s identify. His use of mosaic reflects this preoccupation. Our identity is composed of different personality traits and of different physical characteristics (e.g., skin color, hair color, facial structure, etc.). Like pieces in a mosaic, these traits and characteristics bear no meaning when viewed in isolation, but when stitched together they combine to form the fabric of one’s identity.

Anna. Artist: Gian Piero Gasparini; Cotton on Wood; Affordable Art Fair Central (Palma Arte). Photo by longzijun
Anna(detail view). Artist: Gian Piero Gasparini; Cotton on Wood; Affordable Art Fair Central (Palma Arte). Photo by longzijun

Artist’s website:

~by (longzijun)


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Good Morning & Couple: Two Drawings by Olga Chernysheva

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Good Morning, by Olga Chernysheva from the Graphic Performatives series (2014-2015)

Here are two of the drawings in Olga Chernysheva’s Graphic Performatives series shown during the Venice Biennale. Olga Chernysheva, who is based in Russia, works in wide range of media: film, photography, installation art, painting and drawing (Artist’s website:

The charcoal-on-paper drawings and sketches in this series simply represent observations of everyday life. They are images of commuters, a pair of birds, a pile of chairs, a main standing beside a tree, visitors at an art museum, a dead wasp. Thus, the above photo of a ram-headed man casually strolling down the street with the early-morning sun casting an elongated shadow behind him likely represents nothing more than a man wearing a giant ram’s head and walking down the street. You are free to imagine his story.

Click to view a higher resolution image
Couple by Olga Chernysheva, from the Graphic Performatives series (2014-2015)

You can view the entire exhibition here: Drawings from the Series Graphic Performatives. You can click on any of the photos on this page to view a higher resolution image).

In her realistic portraits, her subjects are simply ordinary people momentarily captured doing whatever it is they were doing at that time. It doesn’t matter whether they are rushing off to work, sitting by the seaside, standing around doing nothing or walking down the street wearing a ram’s head. They all have their stories, and their stories are treated with grace and respect…and sometimes with a bit of whimsy.

~by (longzijun)


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