Artist driven by passion
People looking bewildered inside a lift, close-ups of individuals sound asleep and workers taking a break on the pavement at Hollywood Road are some of the scenes captured in Silas Fong's videos and installation works.
The award-winning artist, who seeks to challenge existing values and inspire audiences, is a recent graduate of the visual arts programme at Baptist University. He has enrolled in a postgraduate course in fine arts at the Chinese University.
Why did you become an artist?
I have always been passionate about the arts. On my first day at Baptist University, the professor asked my class of 20 if anyone wanted to become an artist after graduating. I was the only one to put up my hand.
What has been the biggest influence on your career?
It would be my part-time work as a special project assistant at the Asia Art Archive where I researched and studied contemporary art. I'm exposed to the thinking of artists, critics and event organisers from around the world, which has broadened my horizons. I realise that art creation is an intensive and continuous process of contemplation. My time at Universiteit van Amsterdam [in the Netherlands where I was an exchange student] was also instrumental.
I learned to be more independent, and have adopted a different perspective to examine how most Hongkongers view time and values. Many are materialistic and think “time is money”. I expressed my thoughts on this issue through the video, “Stolen Time for Sale”.
What do you want to express through art?
I would like to think that my artworks have a purpose. I aspire to create art that can be shared and experienced by others and help them to reflect on issues that are worth contemplating. As an artist, I seek to express my thoughts over a broad range of issues, including current affairs, things neglected by many people and the fundamentals of life, such as relationships.
What aspects of your work do you like most?
I enjoy research and the creative process, which helps me understand a subject before developing an approach to express my thoughts about it.
What are the challenges of being an artist in Hong Kong?
Most artists take up part-time jobs because the market is small. There are only a handful who are able to survive as full-time artists.
While there has been a recent surge in contemporary arts exhibitions and an increase in exhibition venues for local artists, they don't get enough feedback from the audience. There is also a shortage of publications devoted to contemporary art. Art critics have few outlets to voice their views.
What is your ultimate goal as an artist?
I want my work to make an impact. I want to create thought-provoking art pieces that raise issues about existing values, challenge them, and express my ideas and beliefs.
What's your advice for young people who aspire to be artists?
The most important thing is to perfect their work. They can seek exposure by taking part in exhibitions held locally, such as the Para/Site Art Space. Young artists should not be disheartened by the lack of venues to present their work. Persevere and explore the possibility of promoting your work on the internet. Also, they should be ready to make some sacrifices, as they may need to find jobs to support their creative work.
- Young Artist Award, Hong Kong Contemporary Art Biennial Awards, given out by the Hong Kong Museum of Art (2009)
- Gold award, Interactive Media Category, 14th Hong Kong Independent Short Film and Video Awards (2009)
- “40 under 40”, awarded by Perspective Magazine this year
- One of the featured artists in the Move On Asia 2010 Single Channel Video Art Festival touring exhibition, which was staged at the Tate Modern in London and Hong Kong Museum of Art