Macau needs more arts education: artist

Sunday, May 18, 2008
Issue 347, Page 1 & 4
Word count: 895
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Macau still has a dominant misconception that defines art as “boring” and “insignificant” which local artist Gigi Lee said was contributed by the government’s insufficient art promotion particularly among the young generation.

Working as an assistant at the St Paul’s Fine Art Gallery and program curator at the Ox Warehouse, Gigi also gives occasional workshops and holds exhibitions in the House of Portugal.

Speaking to the Macau Daily Times ahead of the opening of her paper and ink workshop tomorrow, Gigi said the government’s support to local artist was “definitely inadequate” as “their cognition of art may not be comprehensive enough”.

“Granting sponsorship is not a long-term approach,” she said, “I hope they can give more efforts in promoting art in the community so that the culture can receive a greater recognition here.”

As art is generally regarded as “monotonous” and “irrelevant to people’s daily lives” in Macau, Gigi said it was an “outdated” belief.

But it was not an issue that could be solved in a short period of time or by simply investing a lot of money, the artist added.

“Art should be cultivated among children and students so that the culture can be truly passed from generation to generation,” Gigi told the MDTimes, adding it was always the first priority to develop creativity in the generation.

Having a passion particularly in contemporary art, Gigi said she had thought of doing film production when she was in Taiwan for university, but the nature of fine art finally changed her mind, and also her life.

“It [fine art] is a good way to express yourself and is a more independent production that doesn’t require a big team to work with you,” she explained.

The idea that Macau is a “cultural desert” is no longer valid for Gigi as she said there were nowadays lots of people here who had been contributing to the development of art.

And Gigi didn’t forget to recognise the contribution of the Macau Art Museum which she said had been putting a lot of efforts in promoting arts education in the SAR.

“Over the last couple of years it has been getting easier to promote art in Macau,” she said.

“Art is also a creative industry and is closely related to our lives such as people will always choose something that looks good to them or reflects certain special feelings,” the artist added.

“Aestheticism always exists in our mind but we just can’t aware of it. When you buy a cup you will also choose the one that looks the nicest to you.”

Admitting her workshops usually attract more Portuguese or western students, Gigi said she believed it would just need some more time to “get it through” to the Chinese community.

As the European countries have a long art history, she said people usually saw it as part of their lives and collected artworks for personal liking instead of investment.

By contrast, Macau is relatively new to art and thus no art critics or collectors have yet been born, she added.

“But it doesn’t mean Macau isn’t as good as western countries in terms of art development. It is because western people already have a strong background and knowledge and so it will be much harder for artists who wish to have their works appreciated there,” Gigi said.

“Whilst Macau people are ‘completely blank’ to the culture and so they will tend to have a greater acceptance to new things which can offer artists more opportunities.”

Although it is still difficult to earn a living only by doing art in Macau, Gigi said it “really depends on whether artists have faith in what they are doing”.

And fortunately, Gigi said her family has been very supportive to her career.

But she also stressed that as being an artist, one should never only look at how many rewards he or she would get.

“It’s a matter of fate if one wished to become famous like within five or 10 years,” she said.

“I think artists should instead be more focus on their creation and keep on improving themselves, to look at their works in a serious manner.”

Gigi is currently staging a solo exhibition themed on “time” in La Bonne Heure Restaurant. She said the idea came after reading some books about physics and universe.

“I had a lot of ideas in my mind but it was very difficult to demonstrate them on a flat medium,” she said, adding it was the challenges that made her determine to do it.

“‘Realism’ doesn’t mean much to me now although I used to pay a lot of attention on it when I first picked up painting,” Gigi told the MDTimes.

“We already have too many things that look alike in the world. Cameras can do such a job,” she said, adding “‘realism’ is already a history in the development process of art and I tend to create more and more abstract artworks nowadays, just naturally.”

According to Gigi, Macau is an ideal place for artists to develop new ideas and inspirations because of its “calm environment and slow living pace as well as the diversified cultures.”

Gigi’s new workshop which focuses on the techniques of using paper and water-soluble pigments particularly the Chinese ink will be starting tomorrow evening in the House of Portugal.

For more information, call 28726828 or email


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