HONG KONG ART
In what is apparently Hong Kong’s longest continuous mural undertaken by a single fine artist, Barlo has realized an allegorical vision of the Monkey King mythology beside the Hong Kong Institute of Education’s athletic fields. The sprawling work depicts seven scenes (measuring 3.5 meters high and approximately 90 meters long) and lends a contemporary, Hong Kong-style twist to the traditional tale of the Monkey hero.
An Italian painter who has adopted Hong Kong as his home in recent years, Barlo was approached by the Nomads HK student association to express their views on education in Hong Kong. Particularly, students voiced concern regarding a high-pressure culture prizing exam performance at the expense of real learning. The artist says,
“Considering that this Institute is responsible of forming the next generation of teachers, the work aims to remind students that education is something deeper. It should be based on a genuine curiosity and a desire for knowledge and encourage them to embark upon a personal journey to reach self awareness and develop a critical mind.”
Executed in emulsion paint and brush, the wall was created in 16 intense days spanning 2 months, and was completed on 2 November, 2015. Barlo credits the Nomads students for making the wall possible and assisting him throughout the entire process.
The final result is visual storytelling the length of an entire football field with metaphorical references to Chinese folklore and Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution. It is all set in a magical forest, which appropriately reflect the wooded surroundings of the Institute that offered endless inspiration to the artist.
The mural is notable in Hong Kong not only for its cohesive length but also its introspective subject matter dealing with the social aftermath of the Umbrella Revolution– apparently the first publicly sanctioned piece of muralism to address the city’s collective grasp for meaning following the great protest. However, despite the sensitivity of the subject matter, there was no controversy surrounding the making of the artwork. Barlo shares:
“I think that’s because I used a natural metaphor to represent the subject. Probably at a first glance people.. thought it was just a decorative mural making use of animals and jungle and didn’t spend much time looking at it properly. And also as an artist, I don’t like being too obvious so the entire project was always a balance between direct references to the Umbrella Revolution as well as a more generic sentiment towards knowledge and its role in our society.”
Check out this epic work for yourself at the football field on the HKIEd main campus.
Hong Kong Institute of Education [Main Campus]
10 Lo Ping Road
Tai Po, New Territories
:::::Nature of Knowledge:::::
Photographs by William Wan.
Artwork by Barlo.
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