Sixth edition to the "Who's Next?" Initiative is
One of Hong Kong's most talked about contemporary painters, Geneyclee Gallery introduces to you Francesco Lietti. An Italian born Architect and Artist residing in Hong Kong since 2005.
An insightful Q&A discussing Francesco's fascinating journey on how he became an artist, his creative process, his love for Hong Kong and more!
Q. Tell us about yourself and how your art career began?
A. I've always enjoyed painting when I was a kid and did a lot of experimenting with different types of paint, but it was nothing serious. In 1998, I had an accident when playing football and tore my ligaments. Since I couldn’t run around for a prolonged period of time I started painting more consistently until it become a habit.
When I moved to London, the place where I stayed wasn't very nice, so I decided to create some paintings and fix them up onto the walls. Then I hosted a house party and got many compliments on my works, so I did more of them. I told myself that I needed to start painting every weekend and gradually started exhibiting at the gastro pubs in the area and then collaborating with art galleries and pop-up exhibitions around the city.
Q. When you first came to Hong Kong, what was it about Hong Kong that made you stay?
A. 13 years ago, when I arrived in Hong Kong, there was one day where I started aimlessly walking the busy streets of Tsim Sha Tsui, until I naturally drifted towards the harbour front at sunset, as the lights came on.
I was mesmerised, speechless before the beauty of that spectacle. I instantly fell in love with this place. There was no turning back. I had to capture this.
Q. Is there a certain message you want to convey through your work to those who admire them?
A. My work celebrates the beauty and the dynamics of Hong Kong and places that I travel to. I would like to somehow take the viewer to those places and make them feel the same emotions that I experienced.
Q. Tell us about your creation process behind every painting?
A. It is a combination of my memory and fantasy of places that I have travelled to. I try to recreate the key elements of the cities and places and their unique landscapes.
The paintings are usually composed of two contrasting elements. Take Hong Kong as an example: the city contrasts with nature, a cluster of tall, slim buildings reflected in the sea against a backdrop of green, rolling hills.
I go to a place, see the buildings, see the landscapes, smell the aromas, taste the food, live the adventures and feel the emotions, then I go away and absorb all of that. When I paint, I put everything down on the canvas and allow my feelings to take over.
As I was trained to be an architect, it is my instinct to pay attention to building typologies and I incorporate them in layers with the landscape. I take out the perspective as it is more of how I remember or feel the place and less of a conscious decision or precision exercise.
I like to mix different techniques. The base is acrylic, to which I add collaged pieces, paper cuts, glue, etc., to give texture. I also like to mix the paint with sand or soil collected during my travels, so as to create a stronger connection between the artwork and the place the painting is portraying.
I also add pieces of magazines and newspapers from those locations to help reinforce these connections. The text bits add some fun elements when I compose and give me the opportunity to embed messages or thoughts I have in my mind or that may be related to the specific painting. I also use ink, markers, crayons and wax pastels to enrich my work. Then I finish my paintings with a thick, glossy resin.
Q. What do you think about the art community in Hong Kong? And if you could change something about it, what would it be?
A. I think the art community is definitely coming together in Hong Kong. For me, incredibly, it was the financial crush of 2008-2009 that triggered this process. Before that the common opinion was that great artist would come from China or the West. After the crash, as the city started looking for ways to differentiate its assets, it became obvious that Hong Kong has its own homegrown talent. As the population becomes more and more aware of this, an art community is now enable to solidify and flourish.
Q. Have you ever wanted the chance to give advice to your younger self? If yes, what advice would that be? And what advice would you give todays aspiring artists?
A. I would suggest two things: 1. be consistent 2. spend time to think about and find your unique voice and style.
It was Geneyclee Gallery's pleasure interviewing Francesco.
Do make sure you follow his journey by following him on social media
Next Who's Next? article - 15th November 2018.