If you have been living in Hong Kong for some time, you must definitely have seen some artworks by Louise Soloway Chan.
In 2011, she had been commissioned by the MTR Corporation to create twelve huge bas-reliefs of Hong Kong street scenes. The artworks took six years to complete and are permanently installed at the Sai Ying Pun MTR station, as an authentic hommage to the common experiences we all share in the city.
Louise Soloway Chan, Sai Ying Pun MTR
Born in 1962 in London, educated in England and India, Louise Soloway Chan studied Fine Art at the Bath Academy of Art in Wiltshire, UK. Her works have been exhibited in museums such as the Royal Academy of Art, the Whitechapel Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery in London, as well as numerous galleries and institutions in Hong Kong, where she moved in in 1994 as Artist in Residence at The British Council Hong Kong. She has been a permanent resident since and the city has been her main inspiration.
She describes herself as a “visual story-telling artist” trying to capture the essence of the rapidly changing city.
What does she like about Hong Kong people and culture? The work ethic, the way Hong Kong people are enterprising and hard working, their sense of purpose and business. “I love the contagious energy of Hong Kong. When I first arrived, it felt like my ignition key had been switched on!”
Ever since she moved to Hong Kong, Louise has always been inspired by her immediate surroundings, especially densely crowded urban scenes, constantly drawn to picture the ordinary lives: men in suits rushing off to work, helpers and children, construction workers, and many silent voices and invisible hands that are the life force and backbone of the city.
“I regularly carry small sketch books and make quick on the spot sketches. With a fascination for the quirks and humour of everyday life. In each painting I include as much detail as possible, to give a sense of time and place”.
In the last two years, she obviously captured Hong Kong scenes amid the pandemic, showcasing how isolation measures have created a climate of loneliness, fear and anxiety, almost like living in a dystopian world.
Many of the objects and characters she has sketched and painted became memories of a past era, like curled telephone wires, computers shaped like boxes, city traders in striped shirts and braces, big permed hairstyles, boogie boxes, brick like mobile phones and pandemic masks.
Hopefully the sight of masked faces in Hong Kong will be soon a distant memory of the pandemic…