Book by its Cover
Chihoi’s silkscreen prints reflect his love of books – featuring portraits from his now out of print series ‘Dream Books’. He chose two meticulously sketched drawings of books, producing them as prints – one is a real book from his collection, the other an imagined book that does not exist, but wants to possess. Chihoi’s wood block print Jade Love reveals his humor – combining a book with a heart-shaped hand gesture, like inseparable lovers intwined in an embrace. While his 5-color letterpress print Grandway depicts a surreal scene – a solitary figure walking into an oppressive unknown structure completely draped in cloth, echoes his interest in the urban high rises of downtown Hong Kong, where construction work is often indicated by a green mesh and bamboo scaffolding wrapped around the entire building. Like dramatic theatre curtains awaiting a big reveal, Chihoi’s imagery evokes an expectation as well as an anxiety of what might be lurking underneath.
A master of atmospheric storytelling, Chihoi’s art practice began with an interest in comics and illustration. His childhood interest in drawing later extended to experimental comics and graphic novels by Hong Kong artists, as well as film festivals and Western literature. His passion for story telling sparked his foray into publishing his first comics. Since 1996, he began to release comics, illustration and writing in the local press media and various international anthologies. He describes his distinctive densely filled line work with his typical dark humor, “since drawing comics is so arduous, you might as well use the most painful method to draw the lines”, at first using the thinnest marker pens to create texture. Later he began to primarily use pencil, a medium in which he could create more expressive gestures or leave traces of erasure.
A self-taught artist, Chihoi brings his experience in working in comic books to different single – frame mediums, encapsulating the emotions, imagery or message that you want to express into one image. His imagery depicts scenes that he observes in the city, often focusing on the banality of daily life, while being wrapped in the wider social climate and past histories of society.
> 智海 Chihoi