Nothing really matters, anyone can see

Forever is a lie, always by Vivian Ho


A bizarre feeling suddenly came over me while I was in search of the gallery. I wondered why was the street lined with only butcher shops and grocery shops? This tiny gallery is nestled in a vibrant wet market. The contrast between the unforgiving white color on the gallery wall and the buzz of the wet market is magnificent. However, one can not deny the strange set up is a unique complement to the paintings on exhibit and adds a whimsical touch to the atmosphere.

每一次看Vivian的作品,都能找到一種親切的共鳴感,由內容到命題,都是非常的「貼地」。「我習慣一邊畫畫一邊聽電台,電台大部分時間都是播廣東歌、說當下香港發生的人與事,所以我絕對是由香港的流行文化養大。」早年的畫展,她以王家衛的經典電影對白、廣東歌歌詞為主題,今次她用了香港人熟悉的金句。「『剎那光輝不是永恆』(Forever is a lie, always )這句說話充滿智慧、哲理,因為世上無論是好與不好的人和事都不過是暫時,沒有永恆不變。既然如此,不如把這美好的𣊬間畫下來,或許能讓它們停留久一點。」好的內容也要有出色的包裝來配合,Vivian說有好的命題才是對作品負責的表現,「我不少插畫都以『食字』來命題,因為畫和題必須呼應、互動,這樣才能令人對作品留下深刻印象。」

One can easily associate with Vivian’s works even at the first encounter. The content and theme of her artworks are so down-to-earth that can resonate with Hong Kong people extraordinarily well.  “I love listening to the radio when I paint. So I have been pretty much surrounded by Canton-pop and programs about current affairs during my creative process. It is fair to say I got raised by Hong Kong pop culture.” Her early works tend to adapt classic lines from Wong Kar-wai’s films or lyrics from Canton-pop songs. This time, she is getting her paintbrush on the popular quotes in her local culture. “I found lots of wisdom and wit in the popular quote ‘Forever is a lie, always’. Things and people are constantly changing; be it good or bad, everything just lives temporarily. So why don’t we capture the best moments on paintings so as to make them last longer?” Fine ideas need the complement of a brilliant way of presentation. As an artist, Vivian sees it as her responsibility to give the artworks a nice title that can help to complete the whole idea. “Many of my illustrations are themed by puns. Having a theme that interacts with the illustration is the way to leave a deep impression.”


Vivian mostly draws people you see in everyday life or familiar streets and objects seen in Hong Kong. Most of the paintings exhibited this time illustrate nameless figures whose faces are even not visible sometimes. “Whenever I see people look up to the sky, I wonder what exactly do they see?  I would try to picture the images that conjure up in their minds. So is the girl on the Star Ferry seeing a lotus pool animated by carps or a triathlon athlete swimming in a rough sea? It is kind of challenging to seek remarkable elements in everyday life, but this is what keeps me from getting bored.” As a budding young artist, Vivian never shies away from her down-to-earth character. “There are plenty of skillful painters in this world, but the creative concept is still the most essential element in any artwork. I never bother to tell complex philosophical ideas. Instead, I would blend Hong Kong pop culture into my work to express my thoughts.  I try to provide an intimate perspective to look at mundanity in order to echo with my audience.”


I met Vivian four years ago when she took on the job to illustrate the poster for the international film festival. It was not long after she returned to Hong Kong after finishing her studies in the States, she resigned from her job at an auction house and decided to become a full-time artist. I was very much impressed when she stated, “I want to prove a full-time artist can make it too.” After all these years she has it well proven now. “You can make ends meet doing art, but you also need to learn how to sustain your life. While I was hosting the exhibition, I got a request for doing ink wash painting for a commercial. From there I started to learn the art on YouTube (perhaps like most of the youngsters nowadays) and my perception of traditional Chinese art got drastically changed. I used to see traditional Chinese painting as an uninteresting form of art, only until then did I come to realize how powerful it was. I also admire how ancient people drew in an impressively minimalistic way. For them, conveying the ‘life force’ of objects is more critical than drawing out the minute details by realism techniques. In the works I’m showcasing this time, I have applied elements of ink washing painting into scenes of everyday life. The juxtaposition of fantasy and reality creates an intriguing contrast. I used to pursue a dramatic effect on my works but now I tend to create an overall vibe that can strike a gentle chord in people’s hearts.” The enchanting scenes in her illustrations are like some good old memories that keep on lingering like a soft melody.


Vivian說她今次展覽最喜歡的是描畫一個形單隻影的男人垂頭走上樓梯的一刻,背後稀疏零落的花枝枯葉都在襯托蕭瑟冷清的氣氛。畫下寫上一句「人生就是大鬧一場,然後悄然離去」(Nothing really matters, anyone can see),看來美好的瞬間也帶著一點哀愁,不過這也不會是永恆的。

“My next project will be a series of single-use items.” Vivian is always drawn by insignificant things. Similar to the Cop 663 who always talks to his furniture in Wong Kar-wai’s Chungking Express, Vivian is also talking to these single-use items through her paintbrush. “Chewing gum, teabags, kitchen waste, cigarette butts are all items that got disposed of after people made full use of them. The idea of being completely consumed without getting any respect is the theme that I would like to explore. Human relationship is somehow the same when people try to take full advantage of another person.”

Vivian said her favorite piece from the current exhibition was the one depicting a lonesome man walking up the staircase with his head down. At his back, the naked tree branch with brown leaves hanging denotes a bleak and desolate atmosphere. The line under the painting reads “Nothing really matters, anyone can see”. Even the good moments should bear some kind of sadness, but as always, nothing lasts forever.

A2Z ART GALLERY  20 Gage Street, Central, Hong Kong  2395 5198