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Creating better neighbourhoods through art

In this continuation of our serial, we examine how art is helping to create better neighbourhoods. Shared experiences draw a community together. The MTR is facilitating community by providing shared artistic space that reminds us of our common experiences.

Local artist Hon Chi-Fun was born in 1922 and grew up in Pok Fu Lam. He learned Chinese and traditional calligraphy under a Confucian master and English from the Catholic Wah Yan Boy’s School. His first job was as a postal inspector, but it was never his career. After World War II, he taught himself to paint. In the 1950s and ’60s, every spare moment was invested in creating landscapes and portraits. The 1960s were turbulent times, and the Cultural Revolution, riots in Hong Kong, the Beatles and pop art all convinced him to change from realism to abstract art. He became a hippie on a motorbike painting his inner world. In 1969 he received the John D Rockefeller III Award which allowed him to study lithography and etching for a year at the Pratt Graphics Centre in New York.     

Hon was one of the first Hong Kong artist to bridge the gap between traditional Chinese calligraphy and modern art. By the 1970s his talent was recognized, and he no longer needed to support himself as a postal inspector. His painting Dripping Green, immortalized in six glass panels on a wall in Kwun Tong Station, is described as an abstract dream. But it does not take too much imagination to see the traditional Chinese brushstrokes depicting a mountain and waterfall landscape. The golden structure on the mountain top surrounded by turquoise blue easily entices an observer into a calmer place. Dripping Green is a masterpiece possible only by an artist who has invested a lifetime perfecting his talent.

Text Martin Wray / Photos Dave Chung