humid / Space with wrong colour temperature / 5:58pm / first paragraphs of a novel / the third day after vacation
bathing in the sun / wearing a hat / wearing a coat
getting ready to run / lying down, back, lower back arch and the hollow / unmatched seat back curve / unmatched desk height
approaching someone / riding the underground / an emotionless moment
direction of road signs / proportion of railings / the end of piers / steep ramps / balconies / nursing homes
carrying someone on one’s back / pains / allergies /stand straight, aligned / falls / turning off the light / skin, clothes, wind, hills, turning corners
Opening : October 28th, 2015
Duration: October 29th –November 28th, 2015
Location: Mirrored Gardens
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, P127-128
For more information, please visit: http://www.vitamincreativespace.art/en/?book=firenze-lai-day-and-daylig
Hu Fang: When it comes to the human body, what can it tell us about the will of a person, or his or her struggles in a particular situation? The figures in your paintings often seem to have deformed joints or backbones so they can’t move properly, but somehow they are able to find a new posture and balance themselves. I find this quite touching. I like to imagine your drawings filled with light and sound, and in terms of these qualities the figures stand out as the most penetrating. This is also when their “will” seems to shine through the strongest.
Firenze Lai: I would describe the “will” you mentioned as our physical and mental ability to adapt to a particular situation. The body and the mind are interconnected. Our physical self is the result of our state of mind, and vice versa. My figure drawings don’t show physically handicapped people. They are about people who behave in a certain way as a result of their thoughts, or about people whose thoughts are altered because of the way they move. These situations could be the result of something impermanent such as our mood, our surroundings or a particular atmosphere. Or they may be the long-term effects of inertia, our careers or personalities, or the roles we play in society. For the sake of survival, we constantly have to balance our mind and body, just like plants tilting towards the sun. There’s yet another thing I’ve been trying to express in my drawings – the awkward feeling of not knowing how to get along with yourself. I see painting as the best medium to illustrate scenes of unease. We often think we should match our facial expressions and body language with the situation at hand, but we often can’t live up to these expectations and appear clumsy as a result. When we are unable to adapt to our surroundings, we become a parody of ourselves. I think this sense of being out of place offers a turning point for us: it is the transitory moment for an individual to transform into a character. This is what really moves me.
—Excerpts from The Transitory Moment for an Individual to Transform into a Character: A Dialogue between Hu Fang and Firenze Lai,PHOTOTROPISM, p97
For more information, please visit: http://www.vitamincreativespace.art/en/?book=firenze-lai-phototropism
image + text: courtesy the artist and Vitamin Archive
Address: Hualong Agriculture Grand View Garden(化龙农业大观园), Panyu District, Guangzhou
Tel:+86 20 31043759
11:00 – 18:00, Wednesday to Sunday
Please make an appointment on Saturdays and Sundays for the visiting:
Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and national holidays.
For more information: