HONG KONG – A Spanish painter and sculptor known for his colorful combinations of geometric patterns has launched his first solo exhibition in the Chinese autonomous region of Hong Kong.
Okuda San Miguel debuted his newest works for “Digital Zoo,” a collection featuring intensely-hued artworks depicting several types of animals.
“It’s getting a great reception, especially due to the animal iconography that fits in well with the local philosophy. It features figures such as the panda, the goat or the pig, which is the (Chinese) symbol of this year,” the artist told EFE in a telephone interview.
The exhibit was recently inaugurated and was set to be on display at the Paris 1839 gallery until April 28.
This is the first venue for the artist’s works showcased behind closed doors in Hong Kong, although he had already painted a mural on a building in the city and made another painting on a double-decker bus that will feature his art for three months.
Okuda, who was born in the northern Spanish city of Santander in 1980, went from painting graffiti in factories and train stations to sculpting colorful figures that symbolize freedom and multiculturalism.
The artist said he believed that, with his presence in Hong Kong, he was bringing the essence of his home country: color, warmth, energy, positivism and above all, freedom.
“I think that the purpose of art, in addition to breaking down the barriers between people, cultures and religions, is basically to make people feel,” he explained.
In Hong Kong, the Spanish artist is known for transforming an ordinary residential building located on Tai Nan Street, called Sham Shui Po, into a work of art as part of the Hong Kong’s annual street art festival HKWalls 2016.
Okuda used the building’s entire facade to paint a stunning geometric pattern that culminates in a chromatic portrait of a smiling dog.
In his work, which could be described as pop surrealism, the rainbow-colored geometric architecture mixes with organic forms.
The art of the Spaniard – which has not been exempt from controversy – sometimes raises questions on existentialism, the universe, infinity, the meaning of life and the contradictions of the false freedom offered by capitalism, highlighting the conflict between modernity and our roots.
“I am fascinated by Hong Kong, especially by its Chinese topography. It is a modern city that offers contemporaneity, where the tradition of the past mixes with the future and where old, very dirty constructions merge with ultra-modern skyscrapers,” he said.
Okuda, whose real name is Oscar, created his pseudonym as a child after being inspired by a Japanese comic book and began to dabble with graffiti in the mid-1990s before devoting himself to street art in early 2004.
He said he sometimes seeks inspiration in classic works of art such as Hieronymus Bosch’s masterpiece “The Garden of Earthly Delights” or Leonardo Da Vinci’s “La Gioconda.”
Okuda also cited Rene Magritte, Max Ernst, Yayoi Kusama and Takashi Murakami as his influences.