Architecture Costume

Wilson Shieh



石家豪把工筆畫及建築的細緻拼合,新系列《稱身大廈》是過往《女界》的延續。《女界》中環建築以工筆畫剪裁成女性衣服,稱身系列把近兩年香港的新建築變成女服,穿在高瘦的女士身上。於是《香港六幢最高大廈》 —— 中環中心、中環廣場、環球貿易中心、國際金融中心二期、中國銀行大廈及如心廣場 —— 變成透視裝穿在女體之上。這幅作品分別有水墨設色及墨水單紙兩個版本,起稿是工筆畫必定的程序,這畫在起稿及完成後,石家豪再以墨水把草稿細緻著色,跟原來的有點現代畫風格的彩色版本不同,單色的草稿版本像青花瓷,顯出工筆畫不受傳統局限,顏色題材的多樣性,給予這種傳統中國畫新面貌。

在《稱身大廈》中,石家豪還作了點新嘗試將以不同風格建築入畫。建築外型如時裝,不限於高聳入雲,也有不少如雕塑或古蹟。建於上世紀二十年代的半島酒店,巴洛克復興建築風格在石家豪工筆下變成淑女圓枱裙;Zaha Hadid為理工大學設計的設計學院大樓成了近年常見的雕塑時裝。沒有偉大的理念或訊息,結合傳統工畫及現代建築是不同形式的演譯。人群面貌、時裝、建築甚至城市建築群都需要通過觀察才能了解當中細緻,或許石家豪的工筆作品是一種另類觀看城市的方式。

Through the traditional medium of Chinese gongbi figure painting, Wilson Shieh actively engages himself in the contemporary art scene. 

Gongbi painting technique uses delicate and detailed brushstrokes that are as precise as architectural structure. The choice of using the gongbi technique is perhaps originated from Shieh’s background in architecture. After finishing the A-Level exam, Shieh entered the Department of Architecture in the University of Hong Kong, but he soon realized the school was very different from his expectation. After finishing his freshman year, he left for the Department of Fine Arts in the Chinese University of Hong Kong. There he had his first encounter with gongbi painting. Shieh is not interested in techniques like oil painting or charcoal, which simply allow the artist to endlessly modify. Every stroke of gongbi is irreversible, therefore one has to have a peaceful mind to apply the most precise strokes. He finds this almost spiritual-like technique very inspiring. He said spending an entire afternoon quietly drawing felt like completing a task and meditation at the same time. Unlike oil painting and charcoal drawing that can be modified multiple times, the strokes of gonbi painting cannot be reversed. He can therefore always estimate how long would it take to finish a drawing.

Prudently combining gongbi technique with architecture, Shieh’s Architecture Costume is an extension of the earlier Ladyland series. In Ladyland, architectures in Central are transformed into female dresses; using the same gongbi technique, the recently constructed buildings in the Central area are as well reconstructed into costumes and put on slender female bodies. The Six Tallest Buildings in Hong Kong are worn by female bodies as semi-translucent dresses in the patterns and shapes of The Center, Central Plaza, Two IFC, Bank of China Building, and Nina Tower. This piece of work comes as two sets that are portrayed by female and male characters respectively. Sketching is actually a necessary step before applying the gongbi to draw. After finishing the sketch and outline, a Chinese ink mixed gouache was used to color the male characters. Although the two sets of work were both painted using the gongbi technique, the difference in coloring differentiates the colorful contemporary style, from the single-colored variant that resembles Chinese blue and white porcelain. Gongbi technique is not limited by conventional usage; it can playfully adapt to various color tones and themes to create interesting new works.

In his Architecture Costume series, Shieh has gone beyond the flashy skyscrapers and includes sculptures and historical buildings in his “fashion” collection — the baroque architecture of The Peninsula that was built in the 1920s has become a crinoline, the Polytechnic University Jockey Club Innovation Tower by Zaha Hadid is a splendid choice for the recent hype of wearable art. Instead of promoting the work with a stunning ideal or message, Wilson Shieh’s combination of gongbi and contemporary architecture provides a novel angle to observe and interpret the delicate side of personality, fashion, architecture and the cityscape.