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Award-winning artist Laurent Martin ‘Lo’ on how Hong Kong inspires him

LUXE City Guides
  • Written by LUXE City Guides
Laurent Martin

Escalators scaling hillsides. Wooden trams rumbling down bustling city streets. Salty warm sea air swirling around skyscrapers. For artist Laurent Martin “Lo”, Hong Kong’s effortless balance of contemporary and traditional, movement and meditation, lively and tranquil are the defining elements that have informed some of his best artwork.

Bamboo forest

Born in France, Lo honed his eye for visuals as a creative director in advertising and fashion before discovering his ultimate muse: bamboo. The timeless plant, an intrinsic symbol and part of Asian culture, enraptured the artist – becoming the focal point of his gravity-defying pieces that find harmony between opposites, much like Hong Kong itself.

Making of the bamboo cage

“Hong Kong is a city whose roots and history are unique,” he says, “and art reflects this singularity. The mixture, coexistence, tolerance between customs and cultures. You can catch the smell of mushrooms and fishes drying on the sidewalks at the foot of the contemporary buildings. The tranquility and calm of some walkers contrasts with the unbridled energy of others. The wooden tramway makes its way through the vibrant traffic. Nothing is anachronistic in Hong Kong. Everything coexists in balance.

Lo’s art work

For over 15 years, Lo’s love for bamboo has taken him all over the world as he explores the significance and meaning of bamboo in Asia and beyond. He first showcased his art in Hong Kong in 2016 and two years later, Lo was back for a solo exhibition. He finds Hong Kong’s art scene reflective of its vibrancy and intersectionality between cultures and contrasts.

“I feel Hong Kong is a platform where West and East are combined and merged,” he muses. Walking around Hollywood Road galleries, visiting the great international art fairs, you get a lesson of tolerance and respect. You feel the admiration for both civilisations expressed through the greatest artist creativity. [It’s] a magnificent exchange.”

The Hong Kong junk boat

The iconic Hong Kong junk boat was the inspiration for his 2018 solo exhibition, “Zhu Qi 竹氣”. Manipulating the bamboo plants from long, straight canes to contouring silhouettes, Lo deftly plays with space and tension, emulating the movement of the junk sails in “Junk” and the shape of the strong winds in “Typhoon”.

“Even before I [visited] Hong Kong for the first time, I had the image of junks as the origin of trans-sea travels,” Lo recalls. “The sails’ structures and the design of the hulls are closely related to the virtues of bamboo. The junks represent the movement of Hong Kong pushed by the winds of the contemporary world, resisting the typhoons of history, a city anchored to a millenary wisdom and culture.”


Lo finds there are many clear parallels between Hong Kong, the city, and the physical structure of the bamboo plant. “Hong Kong [is] a strong city, resisting the force of nature and territorial invasions but it is also flexible, [a] welcoming people from all over the world and being [adaptable] to changes. It bears a patient and dynamic population. It combines tradition and technologies. Hong Kong is balanced,” he says fondly.

While Hong Kong may be a place of land of many striking contrasts, it’s the everyday simplicities of the city that captivate Lo most. “I conceive Hong Kong as a journey of sensations,” he says. His best advice? Let the energy of the city move you – literally.

Escalator in Central

“I love to walk around – among the many things to do, I recommend the escalator to cross the city up and down. Get off where life calls you, keep going up, get off again to eat somewhere on the street, have a drink in a trendy neighbourhood,” he suggests. “Reach the city top, look down from the hill and feel the energy of the city. Then do it again when going down.”

Bamboo scaffolding

Lo appreciates the high street side of Hong Kong and it’s the quiet nooks in equal measure. “I love the oasis of calm and life at the city parks. It is also wonderful to look at people moving around when you are sitting on a bench. Of course, I am captivated by the extraordinary bamboo scaffolding associated with the latest architecture. Hong Kong never exhausts my enthusiasm and curiosity.” 

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The Hong Kong Tourism Board disclaims any liability as to the quality or fitness for purpose of third party products and services; and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy, adequacy or reliability of any information contained herein.

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