My encounters with Lai Sio Kit began with his paintings, which usually portray Macao buildings from a high angle. In particular, they depict close and numerous rooftops of low-rise buildings as if they were squeezing each other, which then form the main composition of his paintings. Today, with high-rise buildings everywhere, his works endow us with a sense of familiar and cordial sensation, revealing the unique features of this small yet densely populated city.
In this exhibition, Sio Kit has once again captured the urban scenery of Macao from a high angle. This time his focus has no longer lingered on a great host of rooftops or buildings but a single structural space -a roof terrace. As Sio Kit stated a roof terrace was somehow a private but exposed area. Some people might use these spaces for storing miscellaneous old items while others plant flowers; some roof terraces are more organized and some are in disarray. Even though different families arrange their roof terraces in different ways, these areas are always full of the breath of life and a human touch. Or borrowing Sio Kit’s term, they are “The Secret Gardens”.
Sio Kit used his brush to paint the environment of the individual roof terrace, one after another. It seems a realistic recording but actually, it is distinct with an exquisite personal interpretation. Potted plants, furniture, miscellaneous items et al appear to be placed there randomly but actually they are not. The allocation of these various objects and even the texture of the tiles on the ground are suggestive of the delights and traces of life and also, the rhythm of tranquility. These roof terraces are not luxuriously designed, merely ordinary dribs and drabs. There is no exaggerated or scary tableau, no grand images, but it is worth the audiences while to linger and savour them. Potted plants are no longer just plants; the miscellaneous items are not all just miscellaneous: they represent the painter’s trajectory of thought and state of private dialogue. The composition and content of these paintings are reflections of his personal traits; the delicate strokes are like his art-making character, growing slowly but surely in maturity. Not built in a moment of passion or impulsive, they are accumulated bit by bit in a creative journey which gradually heads towards maturity through repeated attempts and recognition. Each of his works is an affirmation of his personal pursuits and ideals, each an expression of his full devotion to the process of creativity.
Furthermore, this collection of roof terrace works is painted from the bird’s eye view, the angle of which changes the audiences’ psychological position of sight. Although they look at these paintings from eye-level, the images give the feeling that they are actually being overlooked from a height, thereby confusing the audience’s sense of space. Audiences seem to have become giant men, meandering through the streets of the small city and enjoying these ‘secret gardens’ which, originally were hiding quietly in certain corners of our city, have now been unveiled carefully by the painter. Amidst the rapid development of the city, these are exactly the moments and scenes we desperately need to cherish.
About the Exhibition
Curator: Bianca Lei
Venue: AFA Macau
Add: Estrada da Areia Preta No. 52, Edificio da Fabrica de Baterias N.E. National, 10th Floor, Macau
Opening Hours: 12:00-19:00 from Monday to Saturday (Closed on Sunday and Public Holiday)
Tel: (853) 2836 6064