The Standard: Streets Ahead - Local artist Elaine Chiu
Local artist Elaine Chiu is not only recreating the hustle and bustle of the streets of Hong Kong in her watercolors, but also capturing the ambience of the city.
Friday, August 17, 2018
Local artist Elaine Chiu is not only recreating the hustle and bustle of the streets of Hong Kong in her watercolors, but also capturing the ambience of the city. Born and raised in Hong Kong, the cityscape painter is mesmerized by local streets. Her subjects always revolve around neighborhood streets, especially those in old districts, where buildings have sentimental value. "Modern buildings are straight as an arrow, which give an icy-cold impression with glass curtain walls," she said. "Seldom can you see a picture of cityscapes here with curves, dynamic and organic shapes, like those with people at fruit stalls and in wet markets." Chiu has taken on the responsibility of capturing scenes which are quickly becoming a thing of the past. It can be cultural or something as simple as light. Constantly carrying a digital camera with her, Chiu takes pictures whenever she encounters interesting city scenes. Her solo exhibition The True Hong Kong: Insights from a Local Perspective, at Le Meridien, Cyberport's Umami restaurant, runs until August 31, and features 11 watercolor paintings of city scenes with intriguing light-and-shadow effects. Chiu's new work Graham Street Market in warm tones with soft yellow light, is a nostalgic study of the market, which is more than 100 years old. "Light gives the painter lots of autonomy to draw attention to certain scenes and to add sentiment," she said. She read fine arts at the University of Hong Kong, but Chiu said her program was more focused on art history than techniques. So she improved her painting skills by joining different master-classes, and learning from her mother, a painter who started teaching Chiu the fundamentals of sketching at the age of seven. While almost all of her classmates are in the art administration industry, working in galleries and auction houses, the new graduate has decided to become a full-time artist. For a more stable income, she teaches children watercolor painting, and adults urban sketching. Her dream of being an artist began at the age of three. Chiu recalled how satisfied she was when her work was selected and posted up on a corridor in kindergarten - even though it was imperfect as her subject only had four fingers. Chiu has been invited by Victoria's Secret for a collaboration, creating a cityscape mural in the shape of an angel's wings in Central to celebrate the grand opening. She also participated in Vivid Sydney in June. Her artwork was projected onto the wall of the art venue The Concourse in Chatswood. The artist's obsession with Hong Kong's streets continues, as she has a lot more exploring to do.