Artist who goes with flow of the mind

| Terence Chang 14 Feb 2019

Kebeyo Chen's father, husband and child all came with her to the Elements, where I met her for our face to face.

Like me, they were there to see her installation artworks.

The centerpiece was a six-meter-tall sculpture of a pig. Fish and flowers that "floated" in mid-air completed the picture.

And if you venture into the gallery, you can see her paintings too.

"My works are influenced by surrealist painter Dali. I like Dali's works, but I like architect Gaudi's designs even more," said the artist from Shanghai.

Her pig art is distinctive - red and gold aren't its predominant colors. It has an abstract feel to it too.

But the look of contentment on the pig's face is similar to artworks of pigs that I saw in other shopping centers.

She told me "it's a lot of fun" turning 2D drawings into 3D sculptures. "Those are two different perceptions, and that is where the fun of art lies.

"When I started an artwork from scratch, my mind is blank, then I go with my mind, turning images and ideas into paintings or sculptures.

"I don't do drafts. Once started, I couldn't stop until the work is done. Then I feel relieved," she said.

The pig sculpture I saw is emerging from seeds, with plants on its head and a crown in its "arms," an image that is at once fantastic and liberating.

I think the seeds represent spring, a joyful time of the year when life starts anew everywhere.

Chen works differently than most other artists.

She said, "I think in reverse, and I don't have preconceived ideas of how a piece should turn out. It's like a tiny seed that eventually turns into a blooming flower. The outcome is splendid.

"That is the most precious part of the creative process. In the beginning, you don't know where it would take you."

In her studio in Shanghai, there is a four-by-one-meter table that was made from solid wood. On it, Chen has painted a picture.

But she hasn't taken the work to a gallery, but has been using the table as a workbench to do other painting work.

She said she didn't mind if that painting on wood got damaged.

After all, I surmised, that was just one product of her creativity, an unending stream of imaginative ideas that she said keeps on coming every day.

Terence Chang Cheuk-cheung is the retired headmaster of Diocesan Boys School

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