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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.
“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.
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.
“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.”