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When I paint these situations, I always ask myself: what is space to the figures inside the frame? What exactly is the situation I am trying to paint? How does a character adjust his mind and body to adapt to the circumstances in which he finds himself? Sometimes he is self-conscious; at other times, not. Everyone has a different definition of time and space. It largely depends on where you are. I live in a fast-paced city where one constantly has to read just himself. Many different things happen in a single day. Between one such incident and another, there is a void. Often this void is nothing but a transient and fleeting moment that gives you just enough time for the tiniest of adjustments. I am fascinated by this continuous series of brief changes and adaptions. Sometimes when I ride the MTR, I am so close to other passengers that I can feel their presence in a very acute way. They stand wearily, constantly shifting from one foot to another so as to avoid brushing against complete strangers. At other times, I observe strollers in shopping malls pacing around, tracing the patterns of the tiled floor in oblivion. And sometimes I encounter old people muttering strings of numbers, walking backwards and taking in long, languid breaths between their steps, their eyes gazing into an unknown distance. In these moments of ambivalence, I can see how these individuals are getting along with themselves, how they appear different but also share similarities.
Excerpt from an interview by Hu Fang originally published in the catalogue Day and Daylight, 2014.
Firenze Lai (Chinese, b. 1984) is an artist who lives and works in Hong Kong. She is represented by Vitamin Creative Space, Beijing. Lai’s upcoming projects include a solo exhibition at Vitamin Creative Space’s new location in the suburbs of Guangzhou, Mirrored Gardens, opening in October.
Image: Central Station, 2013, Courtesy of the artist and Vitamin Archive