‘The Beating Art of Sai Ying Pun’ exhibition opens at theDesk on Friday May 5. Victor Law is one of our three featured artists who creates his works in SYP
Sai Ying Pun is one of the oldest districts in Hong Kong, so it’s home to some of the oldest buildings. But some of these crumbling structures may seem drab and grey to many eyes. However, artist Victor Law, who has lived in SYP for 15 years and creates his art here, uses playful colours and lines when he draws these buildings so that others can ‘feel the energy’ of the place. Law is one of three artists whose works are being displayed at theDesk co-working, events and exhibition space in Sai Wan as part of our special upcoming ‘The Beating Art of Sai Ying Pun’ exhibition that opens tomorrow, Friday May 5. He is indeed SYP’s ‘beating art’.
All three artists in the new exhibition create their pieces in Sai Ying Pun and they each use a range of techniques to produce their works, like abstract art, fashion and drawing. The opening tomorrow is followed up on Saturday May 13 with ‘SatArtDay’, an interactive art workshop, live performance and street sketching event that sees the talented trio working with visitors to show how these techniques come together and, of course, to have fun. The entire project is supported by Geneyclee Gallery in Kwun Tong, which also has a presence at both events.
Law is exhibiting his paintings at theDesk until June 16. He’s also hosting a workshop at ‘SatArtDay’ which takes visitors out into the streets for group sketching sessions of old buildings around Queen’s Road West. Plus, both events are being supported in terms of food for visitors by Taylor Shellfish Farms in High Street, Sai Ying Pun, and in terms of art materials by 168 Gallery, also in Sai Ying Pun. It’s a truly SYP affair!
Law was born in Macau but moved over to Hong Kong when he was 12 years old to go to secondary school here because his father got a job as a taxi driver in our SAR. After he finished school, though, he moved to Canada to study at the University of Prince Edward Island, on the east coast. He got a degree in electrical engineering before moving back to Hong Kong for a few years and then, in 1987, he emigrated to Canada because he ‘loved it there’.
In Canada, Law worked for telecom companies like Northern Telecom as a technical support engineer. In 1994, though, he headed back home to Hong Kong ahead of the 1997 handover because ‘this was an exciting time for the city’ but, despite planning to stay only a few years, he admits ‘I’ve been here ever since’. The 58-year-old says there were ‘new types of electrical and computer engineering’ in Hong Kong, however he pretty soon branched out into marketing and sales too. “In 1997,” he says, “I joined a hi-tech company from the USA and I helped startups with computers, networking, security products and hi-tech from USA. I also sold products and managed small teams. I did a lot of regional work too, visiting everywhere in Asia Pacific, from Korea and India to Australia. I’ve had a great career in networking, security and wireless regional sales in management roles. I never thought I’d be an artist, though!”
“I was looking for a new hobby so I thought ‘why not?’ I bought a book [on drawing basics] and then I started to draw. And draw. And draw. I haven’t stopped drawing since.”
Law has actually only been an artist for two-and-a-half years. “I’m a technical guy,” he says, “and I always thought I was an awful artist. Back at primary school, I couldn’t do anything artistic. So I never tried again until September 2014, after I’d just quit my job at a large successful company that I helped to go to ‘initial public offering’, which meant it was the first time its stock had been offered to the public on the New York Stock Exchange. I was in a bookstore in Times Square and I picked up a book on drawing. An American guy was saying that if you have a pencil and some paper then he could teach you to draw in 30 days. I was looking for a new hobby so I thought ‘why not?’ and bought the book. And then I started to draw. And draw. And draw. I haven’t stopped drawing since.”
“I really became an artist,” continues Law, “when I was at the Occupy Central protests towards the end of 2014. I met a guy from Urban Sketchers Hong Kong, who do just that: go out and draw in the open air. Well, this guy was just standing in Admiralty, sketching the protests. I loved his work and he suggested that I should learn more about the group. I did and learned so much more. Ever since, I’ve been drawing buildings around our city, particularly in Sai Ying Pun. I was drawing while also working full-time in IT, running startups, but now I’ve stopped that job to pursue my dedication to art. I draw everything I see, everywhere I go, on my trips. I’m an artist and I love it.”
Law is an active member of the Urban Sketchers Hong Kong and the Worldwide Urban Sketchers groups. “I’ve had no training,” he says. “I’ve just asked lots of artists for advice, had encouragement from friends, observed our city, participated in groups and practised as much as I can. I was really pleased when people started asking me to exhibit my works. I just go into the street and draw. My first drawing was a garbage bin next to the City Hall garden in Central but I’ve done all sorts of buildings since then, from Sai Ying Pun to Sham Shui Po. It’s all about having no fear. It’s just like learning a new language, really.”
In this exhibition at theDesk, Victor showcases the local scene of Sai Ying Pun and Kennedy Town, as well as other beautiful old buildings, in his drawings. His works have caught many eyes in the city because of the way he presents the structures with playful lines and colours. He gives the old buildings a sense of life and joyfulness, which many people don’t see. “I really like drawing old buildings,” he says. “Hong Kong is full of life and these buildings tell a story. People don’t have much time in our city to stop and look at the buildings, so I put them on paper. People also say many buildings are ugly. So I use playful colours and add feelings to my works so they don’t appear ugly and so people can appreciate what we’ve got here. I want to say with every drawing that Hong Kong is a great city and we have great buildings!”
Law has been living in the Sai Ying Pun area for the past 15 years, experiencing the many changes along the way such as demolished and new buildings and SYP’s urban scene. “I find beauty in street corners and old structures,” he says. “Sai Ying Pun, in particular, is a beautiful place. It’s unique, especially First, Second, Third and High streets, as well as Queen’s Road West. There are a lot of old buildings still here. Kennedy Town is beautiful too. People see these buildings all the time but perhaps they haven’t seen them the way they should be. I add colour and life to them in my art. Free your mind and enjoy your district with life and energy.”
Victor Law: the facts
NAME Victor Law
BASED Sai Ying Pun
MEDIUM Drawings of buildings
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Come to our grand opening of ‘The Beating Art of Sai Ying Pun’ exhibition tomorrow, Friday May 5, between 7pm and 9pm, at theDesk. Enjoy some wine and nibbles and meet each artist as you tour our exhibition as well as our co-working and events space.Also prepare for ‘SatArtDay’ with our three artists on Saturday May 13, between 1pm and 5pm at theDesk. There is to be drawing and painting workshops both inside the space and on the street, plus live dramatic performances every half hour and artistic talks, organised by theDesk, Geneyclee Gallery and the three artists. And it’s all FREE, with drinks and nibbles provided.
We look forward to seeing you!