Name: Johnson Tsang
Birthday: 18 May 1960
College: I’m a self taught artist. I never had a chance to go to college.
How would you define yourself as an artist? I am happy if someone defined me as a surrealist. If I may, I would say I am an emotionalist. I trusted my feelings. It never lied to me. I can be touched easily and I won’t hide my tears. Then I turn my feelings into artworks.
Why art? I think I didn't choose it. It just happened. I love drawing since I was 4. I didn’t know what art is. At that time, the world in my eyes looked so beautiful. I just tried to bring them into my drawings. Eventually, this passion grows bigger and bigger. I couldn’t stand a life without drawing. So I kept drawing all the time. However, I wasn’t satisfied with 2D expression because according to my observation, everything I saw was in 3D. I could not find a way to interpret the beauty of the nature no matter how well my drawing is. Then, just like other kids, I started to play with doll clay. I loved it so much. Every time when I finished one piece. I see no right or wrong. I only see room for improvement. I try again and again. Since then, I don’t want to stop. So, here I am.
How did you get involved with art? It was my first pottery lesson in 1991, where I made my first clay sculpture. I was still a policeman. In the lesson, I turned a normal cup done by pinching into a sculpture with facial expression. It has most of the facial details but all features were misplaced separately. I was so satisfied and surprised about it. Not only because of the look, but the feeling of touching clay during the whole process. The clay seemed so friendly to me, it listened to every single word in my mind and did exactly I was expecting. Every touch was so soothing. I feel like I was touching human skin. I found peace and joy in it. Then I felt in love with it ever since. Two years later, I quit my job and put myself into a totally different world, the art world. Today, I still have the same feelings in clay.
What art do you most identify with? I would say surrealist art with fine craftsmanship. I pay very much attention on the details of the finishing of my works to express my artistic concept.
What does “being creative” mean to you? For me, I’m Being creative; is a natural thing and a gift that our universe gave only to human species. It is a gift for all of us. People do it in many different fields. Science, technology, architecture, medical, education, politics, sociology, ecology, written work, film making, performance art… we wouldn’t move on if we don't have creative minds. We are all born to be creative. But not everyone aware of it and use it. I am just one of them who treasures this ability. The only thing left for me is how am I going to use this gift in the best way. I chose to share the goodness, love and joy to the world with my creations.
What’s the best advice you ever had about how to be more creative? 20 years ago, I was trying so hard to be a real artist, to have public recognition, to be successful, to be famous and rich. What I was doing is trying to please people. But I wasn’t happy. Until one day a voice from my inside told me “Be yourself;” I started to react the outside world with my inner feelings and expressed it through my works. Soon after this, I won my first championship in an competition Teaware from Hong Kong Artists 2000. I am so appreciated for that advice. My whole life changed completely, not only the way I see arts.
What are you trying to communicate with your art? I like the word’s communicate”. I really do talking to my work during the process. Mostly, I say “thanks”. Because they have been doing exactly what I was created in my mind.
I have been showing my works through social network for few years. I’ve received lots of comments (most of them were positive)and messages saying how my work speaks to
them. They expressed their feelings towards my work in the absence of my interpretation. That communication was solely between them and my work without me. That’s what I wish the people do. I really don’t mind what the public feels about my work. It doesn’t mean I don’t care. I just don’t expect my works being interpreted the way I did even though I created all of them. I trusted my feelings. I do wish the audience to trust theirs and to see my works without any input from others or even me. I accept whatever they feel about it. It will make my work born again. Everyone could have their own interpretation due to their grownup background, experiences, attitudes, characters. It means there could be unlimited meanings. I believe if my work reaches or touches someone’s heart. There must be a reason hiding behind him or her. That reason is more important than my work. My work sometimes act like a wake-up call for them. Although they’re just a small number among the people who saw my works. But I feel so thankful and blessed that I have created those works. Every one of them is the fuel for my next creation.
What do you see as the strengths of your pieces, visually or conceptually? I would say ‘Love’. I do wish people can find this element in my works. Sometimes it’s not hard to find. For example, one of my work “Conversion”. A cherub sleeps on the devil face and turning the colour of the devil from dark to white.
My thought is simple, love melted even devil’s will. The word “Love” for me doesn’t represent only the pretty things. Love is the combination of all of our positive or negative feelings and emotions. Hate and fear are not the absence of love. It is just part of it. We just swings from one side to the other. It’s hard to stay still in love.
That’s why our emotions swift constantly. For example, we won’t feel sad if someone you don't love left you or hurt you. Parents push their kids to do something they don't want, in the name of love. War may be started because both sides claimed they want to protect their believes, a God they love. Sometimes we wouldn’t feel love until we have lost it. We must learn how to love in the situation without love. That’s why we say love is the strongest power in the universe. After all, love is everything.
What themes do you pursue? Frankly, there’s only one thing in my work. It’s Relationships. The relationships between everything, matters and all living beings. I believe that everything happened to be here is for a reason. None of them can be exist alone. Somehow, there must be some connection between things and affecting each other. I have a strong will to find out the relationship between different things in sight, out of sight or even sightless. The color, texture, strength and uniqueness of different materials and living things, and finally human. I pay very much attention on every detail. My works are mostly talking about those relationships.
What inspires you to work? There’s a place I always go which quite similar to meditation. My imagination took me there whenever I wish to, no matter I’m meditating, making artworks, walking, jogging, taking bath, waiting for buses or traveling. When I get there, I see things in 3D, everything looks real to me.
Anything can be changed by me along with my thoughts. I can go any places around the world or even the universe, I can meet any one if I like to. I can talk to a 6 year old me. There is no boundaries or limitation. Even time doesn’t exist. Then I create, build and alter my work there like a magician. Sometimes I even got advices from the people there. Sometimes, some sculptural forms just appear in front of me without any of my input. I can go around the piece to have a clear 3D images. The whole piece of work can be completed in one visit, sometimes a few. I call this place ‘Imagine Nation’.
Over there, I still have my conscious. But things happened or happening around me and my previous experiences in real life play a very small part in my creation. I see things differently. I react moderately with a loving heart. There’s no right or wrong. Everything doesn't really matter. Then I see unimaginable possibility.
When I returned to the real world with my creation, I usually draw it down on my notebook. Or write down some important points in my cell phone. Then I may turn them into reality later on. My “Lucid Dream series”; is an example. there are thousands of ideas from here. It’s hard to make choice. So I usually pick the fresh one.
Yet, I sometimes create works purely with my mind. Like “A Piece of China” series and pouting Trump.
Book: Conversation with God
Movie: Life is beautiful
Food: Kiwi and vegetarian food
Quote: All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no mind, from inner stillness. -Elkhart Tolle
What Role does the artist have in society? Everything happening here or happened to be here must have a positive reason. That gave me a large room of imagination to tell a story or make a story. There are actually just two things took places in my works, the cause and effect. What left for us to reflect on is responsibility. We react the world with a creative thought imply into our works in order to make a little different.
Do you suffer for your art? I found love and joy in art. That’s why I always wear a smile when I work. For me, I consider of doing art is a leisure instead of working.
What do you think about the art community and market? Should art be funded? Why? To be fair, I wouldn’t say we should fund art just like we fund all others. Let it happens when it happens. But I think we should not interfere the process of life. In the moment of difficulty, we learned, we experience, we grow. We should take all responsibility of our life. We will be happy if we gained support. But it may take away the opportunity to earn strength and to be inspired. Many artists may agree with what they have been inspired or find their own path during their worst moment. I see art is a part of my life. It is very important to me. But it just a part of my life. Every moment counts no matter I thought it’s good or bad. That’s only a sign of direction telling me the right path. That’s life really meant. We love creativity. That’s why we do art. A real artist will never stop doing it no matter what.
What famous artists have influenced you, and how? I couldn’t name an artist that has tremendous influence to me. I would say I admire and appreciate people who did great things to humanity, to help people with less power, to save our Mother Nature from man-made destruction, to care for all living beings, to fight for freedom and to embrace peace. They are our teachers. We should always look up to.
What other interests do you have outside of art? I live a very simple life. If I’m not working, I love to go to Victoria Park in Quarry Bay where me and my wife do
jogging at night or during weekends. It takes only ten minutes walk from our home. It’s like our Central Park in Hong Kong. On Sunday, we go hiking at many remote areas like Lantau Island, Lama Island and the Peak. Me and my wife are both vegan. We cook for ourselves most of the time. We also like travelling. We do it 3-4 times a year. We both love to visit every museum in all our trip. My wife is a museum curator. So we have so many to share. My life is so blessed to have such a great partner.
You seem to be very aware of the history of works. Where do you see films, photo exhibitions, art performances today? When I was only 4. I thought I was a dumb kid. So as my teacher. Because my score at school was really bad. I thought those are not important to me. But I like observing all things around me especially our mother nature. I love going to the mountain and seaside near my home. I also curious about all behaviour of people. Then I built up a very firm skill of finding the connection and relationship of people
and things. I think this awareness in my early year has made me a very calm and quiet person. So that I can pay attention to see the whole picture. It is my awareness took
How would your life change if you were no longer allowed to create art? I knew that I am creating my version of me in this life on earth. Whatever in it matters. I will miss it If I can’t do art anymore. But I accept and trust whatever going to happen to me is for a good reason. I might have another important mission, doing creativity in a totally different territory. Looking back my life, there were lots of unpleasant experiences. Undoubtedly, all of those took me to what I am now. Today, I can find the goodness in every single bad experience I’ve been through. For me, those are great gift. It leads me here.
some short questions now…
Describe your style; Define yourself;… I am just me
Define your art: Work of ‘Love’
Art Fairs: Survivor game
Museums: My favourite place
Cities: Over use of land
Travels: To find myself
Artists: Our mother nature is the best one.
Music: Peaceful piano
Cars: less exercise
Drones: Eyes in the sky
Mobile App: I don’t know
What are your next projects? After the success of ‘Lucid Dream’ series. I am developing ‘Lucid Dream II’ series. I will continue showing how I interpret my visual images from my dreams, meditation and imagination. This project gives me a strong feeling to bring the uncertain territories to life through me, both mentally and physically. It is a Dream come True project. Hopefully, they can be shown next June. So excited.
Define “Klassik magazine” for the audience? An multidisciplinary international media press and haute culture platform.