I am fascinated by “Languages, Words and Symbols” as I reflect on my roots from Hong Kong. My parents have the hindsight to put all the children through the private English school system. Far from being a privileged upbringing, there were constant fear, insecurity and turmoil at school due to language barrier as my mother tongue is not English. I felt constantly being picked on. Training for public speaking came at an early age of 6 by reciting a poem, on a platform in front my classmates. By age 8, I was already a night owl. Fond memories of my father sitting on the couch keeping me company as I frantically painted on the floor for an art competition at school while everyone was asleep. Time flies, then came the official handover in 1997 to China, the uncertainty, the insecurity and turmoil were repeated. In 1995 I uprooted the family to Vancouver in exchange for plights of freedom and adopted Canada as home.
These fragmented memories of attachment, separation, uprooted or integrated were retold in a recent painting leading up to the Paris shooting on November 13, 2015. The title “Love and Peace” may sound cliché but it is from this background that I choose to express my yearnings to live in harmony.
Other recent paintings delve into my inner exploration of identity with an East meets West experience. Motifs of flowers, birds, patterns and mythological figures are part of my upbringing in Hong Kong and they represent a deep-rooted culture across Asia. A peony is a beautiful flower symbolizing wealth and growth in Asia. A raven may be a sign of bad omen as a scavenger over dead bodies. In North West Coast art, the raven signifies intelligence and creativity. It is within this cross-cultural context that I try to evolve in a visual language that strikes a balance in my approach to contemporary paintings.