Exploring the Intersection of Tradition and Contemporary Expression
Welcome to a journey through the artistic landscapes of Hong Kong, where tradition meets contemporary expression. In this exclusive interview, we delve into the creative minds of Anthony Wong Jon, a distinguished ink painter, and River Closer, a visionary artist and creator of intellectual properties. Join us as they share their inspirations, challenges, and future aspirations.
Unveiling the Artistic Tapestry of Hong Kong
In the heart of Asia, the International Hong Kong Art Community (IHKAC) stands as a beacon for promoting Asian arts and culture. Collaborating with art partners, IHKAC introduces the "Idea Gallery" to showcase diverse creative ideas. As part of this initiative, Luna Grande Gallery in Turkey hosts an exhibition featuring two remarkable Hong Kong artists: Anthony Wong Jon, renowned for his unique ink illustrations, and River Closer, a master of merging Eastern fantasy with healing styles.
Could you tell us about yourself?
IHKAC: We are the International Hong Kong Art Community (IHKAC), an art community from Hong Kong. Our purpose is to promote Asian arts and culture and facilitate the exchange of technology and information between artists in Hong Kong and around the world. Our latest development is the establishment of "Idea Gallery" in collaboration with other Hong Kong art partners. Through this gallery, we aim to present the creative ideas of different artists to the public in various forms. For this exhibition at Luna Grande Gallery in Turkey, we have brought two Hong Kong artists: Anthony Wong Jon and River Closer.
Anthony Wong Jon: I am Wong Jon, a Hong Kong ink painter, columnist, and novelist. I have been studying Chinese ink painting since I was young. Inspired by the "one-stroke" technique in Chinese calligraphy, I have developed my signature "one-stroke" illustration style. I have published several books combining my writings and illustrations, including "One Stroke Epiphany," "Amusing History of 4000 Years," and "Hong Kong 1942." I have received awards such as the "SCMP Spirit of Hong Kong Award - The Spirit of Culture 2021" and the "Hong Kong Publishing Biennial Awards" in 2017" and 2023.
River Closer: I am River Closer, a Hong Kong artist and lover of mysteries. I have created the intellectual property (IP) called "Unicorn Dream" and "Numerology Artist." These IPs feature original characters, with the main character being "Numerology Artist Luna" and her unicorn. Through these artworks, illustrations, and comics, I aim to create a fusion of Eastern fantasy and healing styles. The cultural concept behind the IP is to promote academic knowledge such as Eastern numerology, Western mysticism, and new-age mind and body practices through illustrations, stories, animations, and more. My goal is to revive ancient and lesser-known cultural knowledge and help young people understand cultural heritage.
How did your family react to your interest in visual arts?
Anthony Wong Jon: My family, like many in Hong Kong, considered it merely as a hobby and did not support me pursuing it as a career. I have to say that the greatest obstacles often come from the closest people.
River Closer: Initially, my family disagreed, thinking that it was important to find a stable job and acquire practical skills. However, over time, they started to support me.
Were there any names that guided you in art and inspired you?
Anthony Wong Jon: I learned traditional Chinese painting from various teachers.
River Closer: I find "experience" to be my greatest inspiration.
How does your production process start ? Can you tell us about the production process of your works?
Anthony Wong Jon: Initially, I painted for my own enjoyment. I didn't even use my own paintings for my books. While practicing Chinese calligraphy, I accidentally discovered that I could apply certain techniques to painting. Over time, I developed my own unique style.
River Closer: At the beginning, I wanted to combine my favorite lesser-known cultures with my creative and artistic pursuits. This led me to create the character "Numerology Artist Luna" and the symbol of a dreamlike hope, the unicorn. I use these subjects to create stories and paintings, drawing inspiration from my dreams and spontaneous mental images. These artworks serve as a record of my mystical experiences.
Which art movement do you feel closer to?
Anthony Wong Jon: Minimalism.
River Closer: Contemporary Art.
Who or what do you think art is?
Anthony Wong Jon: I believe art is for one's inner self. It can also serve as an emotional vehicle for communication with others.
River Closer: I think art is a means of communicating with one's own soul and expressing oneself. When you sincerely express your deep emotions through art, your sincerity resonates with others, and your artwork becomes a channel for others to express their own feelings. Through this exchange, you are communicating with others, transcending time and space. The ideas behind your work can continue to connect with others even after you are gone.
Who are the artists that influenced you or that you admire?
Anthony Wong Jon: Salvador Dali.
River Closer: Picasso, Hannah Wilke, Mori Chack, Nagi Noda.
How did the pandemic process affect you and your business?
Anthony Wong Jon: During those years, I focused on developing my painting style.
River Closer: The pandemic provided me with an opportunity to seriously pursue the creative path that I had kept hidden in my heart. In the past, practical factors always took precedence, but during the pandemic, many things became impossible. This gave me the extra time and space to concentrate on my artistic creations.
Can you talk a little bit about your plans for the future?
Anthony Wong Jon: In recent years, I have been incorporating calligraphy techniques into my paintings. In the future, I plan to explore the application of painting techniques in Chinese calligraphy.
River Closer: I hope to create a limited edition store for my "IP" that balances artistic creation and product design. I aim to establish a unified store concept and develop a brand image by paying attention to every detail of the design. Through this, I want to create an IP that captivates the public, forming a parallel path between cultural creativity and business. My goal is to create stories and share my ideas with people because I believe that ideas live on forever.
Finally, is there anything you would like to add?
IHKAC: We hope you will follow these two Hong Kong artists on their Instagram @anthony.activation @unicorndreamshk, and we also hope that you will follow us on our upcoming art platform "Idea Gallery" in Hong Kong, and you can follow us on Instagram @ihkac.co for the latest news!Finally, we would like to thank our team members, Editor Ivan Lai and Assistant Rita Huang (Instagram @komusumerita)
Anthony Wong Jon
Anthony Wong Jon
DÖRT ELEMENT/TUAL ÜZERİNE YAĞLI BOYA/2023