They craft and torch, snip and sculpt, and, ultimately, shape the world around us. Not confined by pristine gallery walls or lofty museum halls, the works of these talented individuals clamour for attention in malls, airports, hotels, parks – and, this month, on these pages. Today, sculptor Kim Chi-Keung tells his story.
When I was young I’d doodle in all my books – and if there were any drawings I’d be sure to recreate them. I remember that stationery was at the centre of my creations. I broke down ballpoint pens into several pieces and then combined them into a humanoid doll, using lollipop sticks to make boats and other kinds of toys. I remember these experiences fondly, as they marked the beginning of my creative journey.
As I received no formal art education, my initial creations were mere facsimiles, but I gradually realised that true art is something else entirely. In the early days I used the art form of installation to express my creative urges, but after each exhibition I could only keep records of my works through photography and written annotations; that isn’t the case with modern art, as those sculptures employ a more diverse range of materials, so they can be disassembled and preserved. My current process is all about discovery – every artwork posts different challenges that force me to persevere, stand tall in the face of adversity and solve all the problems to make the work as good as I can.
In the ’90s, I came across an installation that combined ready-made objects with environments. I’d incorporate stories of my daily life into my works, and as I’m a bit of a bird aficionado I like spending time on Mongkok’s Bird Street (Hong Lok Street); thus, my work bridges the two. I made my first bird cage-inspired work in 1993, which also drew inspiration from the German artist Joseph Beuys, who also often employed such motifs. Since then, my creations have been inextricably linked with bird cages.
I hope that through my work, the Birdcage series can reveal more possibilities to the audience, as long as we, as a community, keep exploring. At some point, sacred secrets, wonders and previously unfathomable opportunities are bound to emerge. And what better place for such discoveries to manifest than Hong Kong? It’s a place where cultures intertwine, East lives in harmony with West, and art embraces a dizzying plethora of forms.