BRICK FACTOR

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Published on August 06, 2014 with No Comments

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Hong Kong gets re-imagined in Lego’s colourful blocks.

Words EMMA RAMSAY
Images THAT PICTURE GALLERY

Hong Kong. A city of contrasts. Now how many times have we heard that before? With its exciting history and futuristic edge rolled into one, it’s a city that spellbinds the visitor – regardless of the number of times you visit it.

Whether it’s the spectacular harbour fringed by majestic mountains or the quaint pictures of bustling, old street markets juxtaposed against the soaring skyscrapers, Hong Kong is a city of lasting imagery. Its picturesque scenes have been played up countless of times in various travel literature. Yet, nothing quite captures the city as eloquently as “Legography”, a collection of posters by photographer Ric Tse.

Using Lego bricks and mini figurines, Tse takes inspiration from everyday scenes of Hong Kong that have become synonymous with those who know the city. In one scene, “Victory”, Tse immortalised Hong Kong’s love affair with horse racing and pays tribute to the annual Chairman’s Sprint Prize. “Sweet Memories” is a nod to nostalgia and a local sentimental favourite – the Mobile Softee ice cream truck that every local knows. Even the city folks’ penchant for branded goods and luxury does not escape his wry amusement as Tse gets one of his Lego figurines to swing a Cartier shopper bag on her arm.

Tse’s works captured the public’s imagination when Christopher Bailey, owner of That Picture Gallery, displayed them at the recent Affordable Art Hong Kong. Says Bailey, “We discovered Ric’s work via an active Hong Kong photography blog. He had posted some of his work there and was getting really good feedback and response. We invited him to come into our Gallery for a discussion and following that discussion we agreed that Picture This would represent him and promote his work.” Bailey launched Tse’s “Legography” series in March at the Fair where Bailey says, “We sold his work non-stop all weekend.” They are now on permanent display at the gallery’s Prince’s Building Central shop until the end of 2014.

Those that have seen Tse’s work are naturally inclined to think him as a huge Lego fan. Yet says Tse, “I had never played with Lego bricks before.” But it was a ‘chance’ encounter in 2010 that picqued his interest in the colourful studded bricks. “During an annual cleanup, my girlfriend, now wife, found an old box of Lego. I held a tiny figure and thought, if I could use this in my photography it would be interesting. That is where the concept came from,” he shared.

In fact, Tse was just as surprised as everyone else with the publicity and interest over “Legography”. “I did not expect my work could draw so much attention from people, as my original intention of “Legography” is just for fun.” But Tse believes that part of the reason why the public could relate to his work was because it allowed “people to gain back their ‘heart’ of childhood through my work.”

Bailey, however, has his own opinion. “I think that Tse has very cleverly used the Lego figures to present a unique view of Hong Kong. Importantly, he also demonstrates a subtle understanding of the city and uses the Lego in some of his pictures to deliver a poignant social commentary on many of the issues which most concern young educated Hong Kong people.” Bailey himself admits that he was drawn to both the complexity of Tse’s scenes and the depth of his message.

Regardless of how “Legography” affects you, there’s no stopping Tse’s little people and city from making a big impact on the art scene.

Royal Brunei Airlines flies Hong Kong daily.

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