At Brendan Fitzpatrick’s exquisite yet cozy studio, the award-winning figurative artist shared his insights into the Hong Kong art industry, the impact of his cultural background, and how he connects with his clients and conveys the emotions into his paintings, and more.
- Can you give us a little background about yourself?
I was born in Hong Kong, and I grew up in different environments by jumping between Hong Kong, London, and Italy.
I think identity crisis is one of the issues that most international kids need to deal with. One of the big reasons I came back to Hong Kong was that I felt like a lot of interaction with my Chinese family was lost after my mom passed away. Hong Kong has changed a lot over the years, and that was the other reason why I chose to come back to witness everything rather than take the view from the sidelines.
- How does your cultural background impact the way that you see the world and create art?
Spending a lot of time in Europe made me appreciate all the figurative arts, and I saw many Chinese realist paintings when I was in Shanghai. So I think we have to adopt different cultures and balance the tastes that you developed from them, and this also changes the way I approach art as each place has its own cultural views and norms. For example, what is viewed as conservative in the UK is very different from what is considered to be conservative in Hong Kong. So I’m trying to play within all of those boundaries. And this makes an exciting piece of my personal history by having the chance to touch on different parts and get to know the feeling of each society, which definitely can help me create arts in the future.
- Which culture affects you the most?
I think it’s always the place you’re living in, the place you’re putting yourself into. If you’re working hard and trying to be inspired and creative in any particular place, I think you’re going to be adversely affected by that whatever you do. And right now, I’m very much influenced by the arrangements in Hong Kong.
- How do you get inspiration?
If the weather is great, I will walk or run to the studio. I find that just being able to do something and have a journey allows me to process my own thoughts, and I try not to listen to a podcast because I want to make sure the opinions in my mind are my own.
The other way that I get my inspiration is to go to museums and galleries to see what other artists have done. Just appreciating the craft and perspective that other people have is hugely motivating.
- Do you think Hong Kong has a lot of inspiring artists? Some say Hong Kong is a creative desert.
I don’t think Hong Kong is a creative desert. But I do believe that the art market in Hong Kong is very much directed at superstars. International artists like Jeff Koons or Damien Hirst always sell their art pieces at Art Basel. So here are the questions, how do we support the local artists? How do we support any of the Chinese artists to sell their work in Hong Kong?
- How is your personality reflected in your work?
Well, I’m a slightly depressive, slightly neurotic person who gets a lot of energy from being extroverted. And sometimes, I flee from social interactions like a cat.
I think the way that is reflected in many of my paintings is how people interact and connect with each other.
I create both narrative and portrait figurative art. The narrative pieces are more about what you witness the people around you. On the other hand, the portrait pieces are more about the feelings that are shared by the individuals, including my own feelings.
So, it’s very rare that you see a painting of mine that has someone smiling happily with no worries because I don’t think that’s what the world is like. Of course, some people may disagree with me. But my angle is more about why do we feel pain in the way we do? Why do we behave in a way that might be irrational to others?
- How do you see the differences between traditional art and photography?
I think they’re both from their own wonderful worlds. Some photographers specialize in candid photos, and others specialize in capturing the true honest moment of the person. The type of photography that I really admire is instantaneous capture.
Brendan Fitzpatrick BIO:
Brendan Fitzpatrick is a an award-winning figurative artist from both London and Hong Kong. He attended both Central Saint Martins and the Royal Drawing School before apprenticing at the Charles H. Cecil Studios in Florence, where he subsequently began teaching at the request of the atelier. In 2018 he was awarded the Portrait Prize by the Royal Ulster Academy. Fitzpatrick utilises the sight-size technique used by the Old Masters, whereby a model is painted in person to the scale of life. Citing artists Velasquez, Borremans and Rembrandt as influences, he marries the intensity of the craft in fine art in a contemporary setting. Fitzpatrick has recently set up a studio on Hong Kong island where he is currently accepting commission portraits.
Please visit https://www.brendanfitzpatrickart.com/ for Brendan’s updates and his work.