March. Art month in Hong Kong. Artist Chloe Ho is immersed in, and in some ways a product of, an art scene that’s suddenly leapt from analogue to 5G: Hong Kong is now said to be the world’s third most profitable art market after New York and London.
Yet, Ho works in ink – the most traditional medium of Chinese artists. She returned to the ink drawing skills she first learned as a child at the urging of her American tutors especially Chinese-American artist Liu Hung. And that presaged another return – to Hong Kong itself.
She works on the 13th floor of a block on Wong Chuk Hang Road, a street in Aberdeen that’s morphing daily from a light industrial landscape into a heartland of art, fashion and creative entrepreneurs.
Every day is a story in three parts, as she tells us.
Chloe’s day: Beginning
It always starts with dreaming of art – a new show is coming. I really am part and parcel of my studio. It is a chiaroscuro kind of place. Everything about it reflects who I am as an artist – the sensibility, the colours, the layers of paint and ink on mats that cover the floor. I look out at two vistas representative of Hong Kong – a dreamy, green hillside and a busy building-filled working district. The energy in both influences me.
When I wake up, I reach for the coffee that fuels me. It reminds me of the depth of my swirling ink on paper, the sublime creative power in materials. The work day begins – never early. I’m most inspired at night – I come to a different life then, like the city.
I commit to working, but sometimes it’s just considering, reviewing inspirations and ideas. The life of an artist can be solitary and introspective. But it’s also connected to the world of art, collectors and galleries at large. I think artists are chameleons, able to draw on aspects of themselves as needed.
Hong Kong is filled with art and its influence – it’s both the creation and business of art in a most compelling way. Every day’s schedule reflects this. I have finally given up scribbling appointments, meetings, interviews and art events on small scraps of paper that share a table with sketches, pencils and much-loved art volumes. I think an artist is a receptacle for stimuli in no particular order.
I now ask my office to keep track of my comings and goings – and so, I am off first for lunch with a collector at Duddell’s in Central. We are surrounded by fantastic ink art on the walls. Then on to the gallery that represents me, 3812 Gallery, on Wyndham Street, to talk about an upcoming show in London and Hong Kong. Galleries and art are tucked all over Hong Kong – upstairs, downstairs, inside and out – all worth seeking out.
After, I’m heading for a press interview. We’ll meet at Tai Kwun and Hollywood Road – both filled with Hong Kong life, old and new. Workers, students, tourists, shoppers and wanderers converge, reflecting a million moving images of life, colour, energy.
I’m back in Aberdeen. My street is filled with trucks and workers – moving in, moving out. A Chinese New Year lion dance team must have rented studio space – I can hear the loud drumbeats even with my windows closed. The freight lift makes a loud clang with a big bounce every time it opens on my floor. The soundscape is as vivid as the cityscape.
I’m off to a glittery and important art dinner. Tomorrow I will be at an informal kitchen in a factory building talking with artists – students, aspiring, established. Art is fuelled by inclusivity.
Night owl. Finally, I’m working. Ink and paint flows. The dream is real.