Editor: The Pavilion, Firenze Lai
Designer: Firenze Lai
Publisher: hulahoop
ISBN: 9789881782892
Language: Chinese, English
Size: 21.6×30.1cm
Page: 136
Year: 2014







Hu Fang: Looking at your paintings, I often feel immersed in the atmosphere, get emotionally drawn into the situation you depict and can’t help but identify with the characters. When I look at a figure in one of your portraits, I can feel the weight of his or her gaze. This energy can put the viewer into a state of contemplation that appears to involve both sides, unlike a gaze that goes in just one direction. I call it “contemplation” because it is more than just a viewer looking at a painting. Instead it gives me a strong feeling of “being in a situation” – not in the reality that inspired the painting, but rather in a space of ambiguity, filled with possibilities waiting to unfold. When you are painting a particular situation, do you go through it over and over again in your mind? What does space, or void, mean to you?


Firenze Lai: When I paint these situations, I always ask myself: What is space to the figures inside the frame? What exactly is the situation I am trying to paint? How does a character adjust his mind and body to adapt to the circumstances he finds himself in? Sometimes he is self-conscious, at other times he is not.

Everyone has a different definition of time and space. It largely depends on where you are. I live in a fast-paced city where everyone has to constantly readjust himself. Many different things happen in a single day. Between one such incident and another, there is a void. Often this void is nothing but a transient and fleeting moment which gives you just enough time for the tiniest of adjustments.

I am fascinated by this continuous series of brief changes and adaptions. Sometimes when I ride the MTR, I am so close to other passengers that I can feel their presence in a very acute way. They stand wearily, constantly shifting from one foot to another to avoid brushing against complete strangers. At other times, I observe strollers in shopping malls pacing around, tracing the patterns of the tiled floor in oblivion. And sometimes I encounter old people muttering strings of numbers, walking backwards and taking in long, languid breaths between their steps, their eyes gazing into an unknown distance. In these moments of ambivalence I can see how these individuals are getting along with themselves, how they appear different but also share similarities.

When I am painting, I often immerse myself completely in the scenario I am trying to depict. Perhaps I have been in the same situation before, doing the same thing, experiencing the same state of mind.


Excerpts from “Being one or one of them —A Dialogue between Hu Fang and Firenze Lai”, Day and Daylight, pp.131-132



About Firenze Lai

Firenze Lai, born in Hong Kong in 1984. In Lai's "Situation Portrait", she explores how the mind and body of a person adapt and react to different circumstances in their everyday life. She currently lives and works in Hong Kong.


Image and Text: the shop, ©Authors, the shop, 2019


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