如果需要訪問一位對art toy有深刻認識和見解的人，Kila必定是人選之一。他曾參與製作兩本關於art toy歷史、文化的書藉《Art Toy Story》，藉此讓大眾了解它在金錢以外的價值。「經資料搜集後，我們發現art toy的文化最初是源自於香港的，可惜在2003年金融海潚後便沉寂了十年；相反在日本、韓國等國家卻相繼地流行起來。為甚麼在香港卻不多人認識art toy？於是我與How2work合作出版一本比較全面地介紹整個產業的書，希望大眾能認識香港也擁有這麼厲害的創意產業。」一開始時，雄心壯志的Kila希望為art toy這行業找到屬於它的定義和宣言，好像印象派般成為一家的派別。「我後來發現，art toy可貴的地方是它的包容性，不像傳統的藝術，不需要藝術學院出身，只要你喜歡，也能創作art toy。」
Art toy is an interesting creation that blurs the line between art and toys. It can be admired as an art piece, but also played with as a toy. Just like the toys in the movie Toy Story, it can be a companion to its owner. HOW20WORKS, which opened at BELOWGROUND this month, is an exhibition and pop-up shop that celebrates the 20th anniversary of art toys maker, How2work. The special event features How2work’s collaborative work with Yoshitomo Nara, Michael Lau, Prodip Leung, 009, and Kohei Ogawa. There are also large-scale sculptures and paintings by local artist Kila Cheung.
For in-depth insights and opinions on art toys, Kila is undoubtedly one of the best people to talk to. Kila is the organizer of Art Toy Story, a two-volume book that talks about the history, culture, and value of art toys. “Our research finds that the art toy culture originated in Hong Kong, but unfortunately, it went on a ten-year hiatus when the financial crisis hit Hong Kong in 2003. During those ten years, however, art toys have become popular in countries such as Japan and South Korea. I used to ask myself why art toys can’t be a thing in Hong Kong, so I collaborated with How2work to publish a book that aims to give a comprehensive look at the art toy industry. My hope is that people can be aware of this brilliant, creative industry in Hong Kong.” At the beginning, Kila had some really ambitious goals in bringing meaning and manifestos to the art toy industry. He hopes that art toys can become a unique school of art, similar to that of impressionism and the like. “I later discovered that art toys are so precious because of their inclusiveness. Unlike traditional art, you don’t have to have an art background. As long as you enjoy it, you can be an art toy creator.”
Kila’s work mainly centers on humans, and in some cases, faces, reflecting varying personalities and emotions. “I like to use warm colors and put faces on my work. They are more approachable in that way and can more easily catch the audiences’ attention. Compared to sculptures, they are also easier to understand.” Kila said that the Edition collection of his sculpture manufactured by How2work allows the general public to own his work at a relatively low price, which in turn, promotes his art to a much wider audience. Kila’s work is not merely approachable, it is also an inadvertent response to the current time and space that inspires the audience to ponder and reflect. His solo exhibition, Moving Utopia, that was held last year, is a reflection on the meaning of home during this high tide of immigration.
“As a recipient of a design award, I had an internship opportunity in Japan and Taiwan in 2017. Being in the foreign land made me miss Hong Kong terribly, so I began to create and express my longing for home. During that half a year in Japan, I slowly picked up woodcarving. I was constantly exploring and experimenting in my one-hundred-foot dorm room, while at the same time, worrying how the dust would land on my bed, or that my neighbours would be woken up by the sound of my late-hour work. I miss that part of my life.” Kila is a free spirit. He doesn’t usually set a clear theme for his work when it all begins; on the contrary, he believes that the work will reveal to you what it wants to say. “The work I created in Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong seems to be all over the place, and I have been having difficulties figuring out how I could put them together for an exhibition. But then the social environment changed, I realized how they can be put together and form a story; that’s how Moving Utopia began. Everything is orchestrated by the universe.” Kila laughed.
《溫柔與堅強的人》（Standing Soft and Strong）
Kila第一個木雕作品是《Home》，他在日本找來二手的小木櫃，櫃桶內藏有家的地圖和找來香港的鎖匙匠做了櫃桶鎖和配上鎖匙；木櫃上加上木雕的小島、掛著溫暖的太陽，這就是家的輪廓。「《家》的系列描畫了我對家的想像，例如是《Taste of Home》，我把屋的煙囪噴出來的煙變成我喜歡的食物；《The Journey Home》則透過火箭穿越雲層、宇宙，最後到達那個掛上微笑的太陽，不管是找回自己的家或是尋找到一個新的家，都是一場冒險，而回家的歷程是一個宇宙級的距離呢。」
展覽中最吸引我的是外表平平無奇的《Siu Ming the Reader》系列，頭頂鴨舌帽、手裡拿著一本書的Siu Ming穿著不同顏色的上衣，即使外貌一式一樣，卻看似各有個性，是創造者注入的情感，也包含著觀者的想像。「讓我最深刻的作品大概是《溫柔與堅強的人》吧。它本來是一塊爛木，需要額外花許多時間來修復它，但那一刻我仍是很想選擇它，這大概是因為當時正處於社會氣氛動盪不安的一年。透過修復充滿裂痕的舊木，像跟它說：『不要緊，你會好起來的』，同時在療癒自己傷痛的心。」Kila說，爛掉了的木頭就像受了重傷的人，當他能站起來時，他便會擁有體諒別人的溫柔和經歷傷痛後站起來勇敢和堅毅。拿著滿身尖刺的仙人掌的男孩像Kila，也像擁有共同經歷的你我他，與傷痛共存的溫柔與堅強，但願每一個人都能擁有。
Kila’s first piece of wood carving work is called Home. It is a small second-hand wooden cabinet he found in Japan. Inside the drawers is a map of home and a key crafted by a Hong Kong locksmith. The wood island and sun sitting on top of the cabinet is a reminder of the warmth from the sunlit island that Kila called home. “The Home series is my reimagination of home. For example, for Taste of Home, I replaced the smoke coming from the chimney of the house with my favorite food; The Journey Home shows a rocket traveling through the clouds and universe, and eventually reaches the smiling sun. Whether it is a journey back home or a search for a new dwelling, it is a daunting adventure that covers an extremely long distance.”
What caught my attention in the exhibition was the Siu Ming the Reader series which has quite an unremarkable outlook. The numerous Siu Ming, all wearing a flat cap with a book in hand, wear shirts in different colors. Even though they are seemingly identical, they each appear to have their own personalities; maybe it’s the emotion injected by the creator, or maybe it’s just the imagination of the audience. “I have the deepest feeling for the piece named, Standing Soft and Strong. It started as a piece of rotten wood, and I knew it would take me a lot of time to fix, but at that time, I really wanted to work with it. It was probably because we were going through a turbulent year at the time due to the social movement. Through repairing that piece of wood, which was full of cracks and tears, it was as if I was telling it, ‘It’s okay. You are going to be fine again.’ I was mending my broken heart as well.” Kila said that the rotten wood is like someone who is seriously injured. When he stands up once again after the turmoil, he will become a gentle, considerate, brave, and determined being. The boy holding the spiked cactus is like Kila, as well as you, me, and everyone else who has been through that type of turmoil, and hopefully what comes along with the pain is also gentleness and strength.
BELOWGROUND Basement, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong Open daily from 11AM – 8PM