Gallery: Art Supermarket
Opening / Event Date: 21 Nov, 2019
Closing / End Date: 2 May, 2020
City Poetry 城市詩意 | Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze
Exhibition Dates: 7 June – 14 July 2019
Opening Cocktail: Thursday 6 June, 6–9 pm
Opening hours: Wednesday – Sunday 11am to 6pm
Venue : Blue Lotus Gallery
28 Pound Lane, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
About the exhibition:
City Poetry 城市詩意 is Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze’s most personal project to date, a photographic exercise that shows the artist further deepening his roots in Hong Kong and Cantonese culture. How might a photographer approach learning a language? Through photography of course. Jacquet-Lagrèze set himself the task of documenting visually striking street signs and took them home where his wife would help to translate, slowly enabling him to decipher the characters that adorn this city’s streets. As his archive grew so did his knowledge, forming sentences with photographs of individual characters results in poems that are both visual and linguistic. His relationship to his wife as they welcome their first baby echoes as he takes his first steps in the local language; celebrating the action of sharing culture and the joy that comes from learning a language.
Hong Kong is one of the last places in Asia where traditional characters are still in daily use, we are literally surrounded by ancient text that harks back to the Han Dynasty of the 5th century. Modern street signs derive from the art form of calligraphy and ‘City Poetry’ shows different typographies and mediums, such as painted, neons, metal, tile and concrete work. The project also highlights the craftsmanship that goes in to street sign making in various states from pristine to total decay, as digitally printed signs and LED slowly take over. Each form has its Masters who have become local heroes, the last one’s standing with few young people learning their trade. Whether its the last few neon sign Masters or the last stencil maker – the recent increased attention won’t keep them alive but it will help us to admire it whilst it lasts.
The young artist that brought us The Blue Moment and Concrete Stories, surprises us once again with cohesive and unique body of work that takes the cliche topic of Hong Kong street signs and grounds it in his thorough approach and then takes it to another level as it embraces the poetic.
“Quand je marche dans les rues de Hong Kong, j’aime admirer les signes chinois traditionnels créés pour des boutiques ou des noms d’immeubles. Ils ont chacun leurs propres particularités et qualités, spécialement dans les anciens quartiers quand ces signes étaient conçus en utilisant diverses méthodes: signes sculptés dans le bois, néons soufflés à la main, carreaux collés ou signes pains à la main.”
Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze, 2019