As freedom of speech in Hong Kong continues to tighten, several political books and publications have been removed from public libraries, and the 40-year satirical comic strip “Zunzi” has been discontinued. On May 13, on the other side of the globe, five Hong Kong artists residing in Canada held an exhibition in Toronto, highlighting the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ’s infringement on the rights of Hong Kong residents and calling on the international community to pay attention to the escalating repression of freedom of speech and press in Hong Kong.
The “Revolution in Color” art exhibition, jointly organized by five Hong Kong artists in Canada, took place on May 13 at the Fairview Toronto Public Library. The exhibition featured various forms of artwork and included live music performances. Participating artists included HUMA, Ricker Choi, Fiona Yellow, Planet Sponge, and Rock Frogger. The event attracted over 300 attendees. Artworks, postcards, and other items were also sold during the exhibition to raise funds for Bonham Tree Aid, which aims to provide aid for prisoners and improve human rights conditions globally.
The “Revolution in Color” art exhibition organized by Hong Kong Canadians attracted over 300 attendees on May 13, 2023. (Courtesy of Leo Tran) Ricker Choi, the event initiator, introduced the artwork to the attendees. (Courtesy of Leo Tran)
Ricker Choi, the event initiator and artist, told the Epoch Times that the purpose of the exhibition was to ensure that the spirit of the Hong Kong democracy movement is not forgotten and to continue the creative freedom of Hong Kong residents abroad.
The Chinese title of the event, “Black and White Reversed,” reflects the current situation in Hong Kong, where many individuals involved in the democratic movement are detained and subjected to unfair trials. The exhibition aims to show solidarity and raise awareness about the human rights situation in Hong Kong through artistic expression.
Choi used an artwork depicting Lion Rock and Victoria Park in an inverted manner to explain that the CCP intends to rewrite history and make people forget. He hopes that Hong Kongers living abroad will continue to persevere and stay true to their original intentions.
The artworks by artist Planet Sponge reminded Choi of news events in 2019, such as the termination of the Headliner program and Hong Kong protesters chanting Bruce Lee’s famous quote, “Be water.” These artworks stirred up a lot of emotions in him about past events.
Artworks by Planet Sponge symbolically represent the news events in Hong Kong in 2019. (Courtesy of Leo Tran) Ricker Choi performed the song “Inside of Me” with the singer of the band Bass Meets Cajon. (Courtesy of Leo Tran)
Inspired by Choi’s artwork, Perry Sham, a Hong Kong Canadian who immigrated to Canada about two years ago, composed a song called “Inside of Me” “My mind is across the sea to be with you and me. The fight isn’t free. On the cost of you and me. I’ll come back again someday to finish off our dreams,” it sings.
The song was performed for the first time in a public setting during the exhibition. The lyrics express the longing and attachment of Hong Kongers in the diaspora to their homeland and their determination to uphold their beliefs:
One of Choi’s artworks in the exhibition depicted the view from an aircraft window when a protester was forced to leave Hong Kong. It portrays Lion Rock and evokes memories of the democracy movement, with the yellow origami cranes symbolizing protection and blessings.
Artwork by Ricker Choi depicted the view from an aircraft window when a protester was forced to leave Hong Kong. It portrays Lion Rock and evokes memories of the democracy movement, with the yellow origami cranes symbolizing protection and blessings. (Courtesy of Ricker Choi)
Artworks featuring portraits of political figures by HUMA were displayed during the event. (Courtesy of Leo Tran)
HUMA, another artist, showcased a series of black and white portraits of Hong Kong political figures, including Jimmy Lai, Claudia Mo, Martin Lee, Gwyneth Ho, Eddie Chu, Leung Kwok-hung, and Lee Yee. Choi explained that these figures represent the essence of the Hong Kong democracy movement.
Western visitors attending the exhibition expressed regret about the ongoing human rights abuses in Hong Kong and showed their support for the democratic spirit of the Hong Kong people.
Hong Kong TV host and illustrator Fiona Yellow introduced her artwork. (Courtesy of Leo Tran)
Fiona Yellow, a Hong Kong TV host and illustrator, remarked on the deteriorating creative environment in Hong Kong, citing the removal of “Zunzi” from the Ming Pao newspaper as an example. However, she believes that artists will not cease their creative efforts and that Hong Kong individuals worldwide will continue to make their voices heard.
Partial content from the comic series “Record of Rockfrog War,” created by the cartoonist RockFrogger, was on display. (Courtesy of Leo Tran)
Rock Frogger, a comic artist, created a comic series titled “Record of Rockfrog War,” set in a future in Hong Kong where the entire city is under surveillance and control. The story follows a female protagonist who uses magic to travel back to 2019, hoping to change the course of history and alter the fate of future Hong Kong. While the comic is still a work in progress, RockFrogger shared some excerpts with the public during the exhibition, hoping to connect with the audience through his artwork.
An attendee is reading the comics by Rock Frogger. (Courtesy of Leo Tran) Group photo of some of the participating artists. (Courtesy of Leo Tran)