Art exchange

Macao x Barcelona - Art of Illustration takes the works of 10 artists from Macau to Spain
Three local artists, Carlos Sena Caires, Pedro Lemos and Michelle Lau went to Barcelona at the beginning of August for the inauguration of an exhibition that brings together artists from Macau and Spain, “Macao x Barcelona - Art of Illustration”.
 
Following on from Porto and San Francisco in previous years, Barcelona was the city chosen for this year’s edition, that aims to provide an opportunity for the exchange and promotion of Macau art, organised by the Yunyi - Arts and Cultural Communication Association. 
 
Christine Hong-Barbosa, the director of the project, was responsible for curating the work of the 10 artists from Macau, who are part of the collective exhibition at the La Place Art Space gallery in the Catalan capital. 
 
Total creative freedom and no restriction of means or themes for the production of the final works was the starting point for the artists in the creation of their works. 
 
“This year we had no theme because we wanted to focus on the individual style of each artist so that everyone could draw what they thought was representative of their personal style,” says Christine.The works of Carlos Sena Caires offer a touch of irony and sarcasm, with the many narrative layers of interpretation concealing the various sensibilities with which he devises the work: death, sex and lust. 
 
“There are several mixed aspects that may tell you something, depending on who is looking at the work, but I leave this reading to the viewers,” says the artist, who is also a graphic designer, keeping the story hidden between transparencies and opacities.
 
Pedro Lemos is a TDM (the local TV network) producer whose artwork depicts the events taking place within the courtroom. He begins by making a sketch of the space that moments later will begin to be filled. The protagonists of the session - be they the defendant, the lawyers, the judge - are the focus of the illustrator’s work. 
 
“I usually do quick five-minute sketches just to get some mental measurements and do as much as I can, [and only] then do I calmly begin a drawing. I’m usually doing five to six drawings at the same time, because people are always changing positions,” Lemos explains.
 
Inside the courtroom, “one goes back to an old fashioned style” with recorders and cameras replaced by paper and pen. To the artist, the sketches he produces assume a “social function” of showing people what goes on inside this restricted area. 
 
“The purpose of the drawing is not to be creative or for exhibition; there is a very clear function to explain the person or the environment. I never had the objective to exhibit it in a creative way,” the artist adds.
 
When Christine Hong-Barbosa invited Michelle Lau to participate in the exhibition in Barcelona, the only information conveyed was that she was completely free to draw anything she wanted. Lau, who is also a financial analyst, said that after several attempts the end result was achieved when her son learned to speak and told her that his favourite animal is a whale. 
 
The great blue whale allows her son to soar above the places the artist has lived. 
 
“The red section is the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, where I went to college, then I went to New York for a few years - the green section - and then Hong Kong; In fact the purple is the Sai Van Bridge and then Macau is in yellow,” the artist explains.
 
During her high school education in Hong Kong, Lau studied illustration and watercolour but, influenced by her parents, she went into the area of finance and trade, relegating her artistic endeavours to the background. Only with the invitation of the curator of this exhibition has the financial analyst rediscovered her artistic side.
 
“One of the big differences I noticed this year is that living as an artist in Spain, although difficult, is possible,” says Christine Hong-Barbosa. “I can’t say the same about Macau,” she laments. 
The curator describes the environment in Barcelona where small galleries proliferate the city, as being favourable to the creation of an “ecosystem” that makes life possible as an artist in Spain.
 
She notes that the great majority of artists in Spain are, in fact, full-time artists, unlike those in Macau for whom art is their second occupation. However, she reflects that it is “very encouraging” to realize that “although people have other jobs, they still want to be faithful to what they like to do and what makes them happy.”
 
After its time in Barcelona, the exhibition will also be presented in Macau, with the inauguration scheduled for October 17, at the Rui Cunha Foundation gallery. The curator of the works of the artists from Spain, Martí Sánchez-Fibla, will be present to talk about the cultural panorama of his country.
 
And as for the next edition, some cities have already been short-listed: “In principle it will be Berlin or Stockholm,” says Christine.