Wednesday, June 6, 2007


By Joel Ferraris

My first time in Hong Kong was marked by memories of a city so compact that I wondered how this place is able to organize itself in so small an area with so large a population. My eyes myopically judged what I have seen as I noticed the high-rise structures all over the place when I and my wife traveled from the old airport in the middle of the city to her rented flat.

It was later that I realized there were still some vacant lands and rolling hills with greenery around. And little did I understand then that underneath these hills and mountains lie a network of roads and railroads for mass transport. That was in 1996 and now a lot has changed especially when more train routes were added as construction firms dig tunnels underneath the ground away from the eyes of the busy public. My engineer friends tell interesting stories of how these tunnels and bridges were built as we drink beer or wine and play the guitar.

As I went down one of the train subway station in Admiralty, I found myself in-between two train lines and, watching how the crowd race from one waiting train to the other, I suddenly thought of an idea for a painting. That was rush hour and, with the daily Hong Kong horse racing news, I thought of the parallelism between the hordes of people from the opposite directions running to board the other train and the horses I saw on TV.

Usually I enjoyed daydreaming of ideas as they hover inside my mind. And then, as if harvesting them one by one, I either have them recorded in my brain or scribbled on a piece of paper and kept in my pocket. When that moment comes I have that feeling I have to hurry back to my studio to start painting. This outburst of inspiration is usually triggered whenever I am in an art gallery or museum seeing excellent art.

RACES ZOOM presents my idea on how I perceive Hong Kong where a lot of people from different countries contribute to the vibrancy and competitiveness of the place. Their presence qualifies Hong Kong to be called a world city. The past-paced but organized and convenient life, with its efficient mass transport here, is the life-blood of this city.

But the unseen undercurrents of racism remains a threat to the existence of this melting pot if left unchecked. Likewise, mispronouncing this title I chose, RACES ZOOM, could spark a ticklish topic about racism the same way we mispronounce other people's dialects or misinterpret their gestures and trigger misunderstanding.

I have lived here for a decade now and I have observed how people of different nationalities blended with one another as we all try to live in harmony. In the Admiralty MTR station, where my inspiration for this painting was conceived, I observed that the glass doors and walls minimized the rush hour rhythm and deaths on railroad tracks, I suppose, the same way that sounds barriers along critical sections of highways give us our good night sleep.

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