During the autumn of 2014, 79-day protest was held in Hong Kong. The protesters, calling for greater democracy, 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 (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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.
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.
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.
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.
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: www.facebook.com/flyingpig.work/
Frances Lee (pseudonym)
Frances Lee (pseudonym) is a Hong Kong-based artist. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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. (twitter.com/BBCNewsAsia/status/517202961882427392). 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. This issue was so important to the people of Hong Kong and I wanted to record it for posterity.Perry Dino captures Hong Kong protests in oil on canvas
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.
chanqueen, Kay Cheung & Bear Pang
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 (the link is at the end of the article).
Umbrella Movement Art by Other 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.
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’.
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 fill the air with their songs.
Here are two more works:
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
Higher resolution images (e.g. 2048 x 1365) can be viewed online at:
- Flickr: Part 1. Art of the Umbrella Movement: Painting and Sketches
- Google Photos: Part 1. Art of the Umbrella Movement: Painting and Sketches
~ text and photos by longzijun
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