TICKO LIU / Q&A
Ticko has risen in the art scene at a rapid pace throughout the past few years. He has become a renown Hong Kong artist that has exhibited throughout the globe, most recently a group exhibition in Berlin. In addition to this, he has been shortlisted for the Hong Kong Human Rights Art Prize 2020 and working on a new series of paintings.
Q. How have you been dealing with this whole pandemic situation? How has It changed your life? Especially in Hong Kong. A. I returned to Hong Kong right before the pandemic. Before that I had a group exhibition in Berlin, it was a big project for me because it was the first time I joined an oversea exhibition and I took it as an important opportunity to let people know what was happening in Hong Kong in the past half year. What was happening regarding police activity was one of the issues that I felt like I had to respond to, or put it into my artwork, to let the next generation know what happened.
(Pathfinder, the exhibition in Berlin, 2020)
After I returned to Hong Kong, I worked from home for two months because of the pandemic and all colleges shut down for a while. I start every-single day with Pinterest and Youtube, occasionally reading new books, sometimes sketch out new ideas. Also I spend quite a lot of time playing video games with my brother, since I started working as technical assistant at my college and working on my own artwork at nights and weekends. I usually don't spend a lot of time with my family and in fact, I took this as a good opportunity to spend quality time with them and to keep them updated on what I am working on. Especially when I don't know what will happen tomorrow during this unpredictable time.
Oh one more thing! Recently, I was shortlisted the Hong Kong human right art prize 2020 which truly made me happy.
Q. What kind of artworks have you been working on this year? A. COVID-19 became less severe after march, I started to work in my studio frequently and executed ideas that sprang to mind. I worked on a painting that I have never showed publicly and the on a work called“ Archive of a hundred sparrows”.
(Acrylic and Oil Pastel on Canvas. 130cm x 50cm + 130cm x 150cm)
I finally got some time to plan a painting that I really want to make when I returned from Berlin. Inspired by Guernica by Pablo Picasso, the events happening in Hong Kong and my life, I wanted to create a depiction representing all of the above.
(An Archive of a hundred sparrows. Acrylic, oil pastel and industrial marker on watercolour paper (300gsm). 360 cm x 210cm (Size variable))
Q. What kind of changes have you seen with your work and art direction during this pandemic? A. Everything starts with Ukiyo (Japanese printmaking), It brings a huge influence to my painting style. Especially Hokusai Manga (北齋漫画), and I just love the idea of a floating world, which is similar with my current situation. I feel like I fell into the seething waters of the rapids and it is impossible to get out of it. Things just change in the blink of an eye and your plans never catch up.
(Working in the studio)
Usually I will plan my schedule for 3 months up to half a year, because I have too many ideas that I want to execute, but time is so limited, so I not only have to choose which idea are worthy of executing but also I need to know how much time I have to spend on it. This operating mode gives me the bigger picture and the motivation I need to create the artwork, and I can break down the plan into a lot of tiny little steps which helps! a lot!
It also helps me to decide if I should take a freelancing job or not. I am working as a technical assistant at Academy of Visual Arts, and it gives me a stable income for daily spendings, rent for studio and learning new practical skills for my art. Sometimes a gallery or/and my friends will ask me to build canvases or white stands for their exhibition, if it takes only a few days and can help me pay for rent that month, I will usually take it, as long as it (My Bookshelf)
doesn't impede my art making plan.
After I returned to Hong Kong, Inspiration came to me mostly by studying Ukiyo, and it often depicted scenes of the floating world itself such as geisha, kabuki actors, sumo wrestlers, and samurais. The supernatural and landscape are something that I really want to continue studying and put it into my practical.
Painting of a pair of scholar rock and dry landscape, with a color tune of hades. There is a kind of charge with my works, I want to keep painting, undeniably. At the same time, I am looking for something more than painting, like installation art, another way to present my idea. I always want to make some work with the topic of Hades and I found that the dry landscape from japan is just so perfect for me. There is an impulse that I want to make an artwork about it. All in all, theoretical ideas of my work is the biggest charge.
Q. Tell us what you hope to achieve this year? A. A solo exhibition is the thing that I really want to achieve this year. I got a few group exhibition either postpone or cancelled. On the other hand it can help me build a better portfolio to apply for an MA program. Applying and being accepted for an MA program is something I want to achieve within the next two years.
Q. How do you know when you’re done with a painting? A. My work starts with a sketch, which reaches completion when it's around 60-70%. After that, I let the rest of it happen on the canvas. Usually I won't make any big changes when I am about to finish it, I will finish a painting even if I don't feel right about it. It is an opportunity to train myself to handle an artwork, even if I mess it up. Sometimes I make bad paintings but it is the foundation for all my other works.
Q. What kind of advice can you give emerging artist who may be struggling during this time? A. Read books, all kinds of book. Keep making something, like sketches or looking for new ideas. Do some material test if you want to try something new, you can do it on a small scale. The only thing you should do is keep making artwork because this is what an artist should do.