My very first encounter with Jennifer Chow and #SadCherry was at the Artist Playground launch event at The Park Lane Hong Kong last summer. Amidst the bustling crowd and celebratory atmosphere, #SadCherry stood out as a raw and striking statement. In conversing with Jennifer, it became clear how her process of introspection affects her viewpoint of the youth and society in Hong Kong, which in turn leads to the discordance and contradictions that she portrays through art. #SadCherry is a diverse fictional figure and symbol which takes the form of you and me. The character presents Jennifer’s pervasive and thoughtful response to the inner emotional struggles she shares with her generation.
i) Please use 3 words or phrases to describe your artistic style.
‘Nineties kids’, ‘desire for love’, and ‘discordance’.
ii) The figures portrayed in your works present stimulating emotions in their mannerisms and expressions. Are your works, to some extent, self-portraits?
My first ever #SadCherry series was based predominantly on my experiences and inner thoughts. Yet, as I continued making art, I came to learn that #SadCherry was simultaneously a representation of me, a friend of mine, and perhaps you – someone in the audience. She started to develop a soul and voice of her own in which she projects on behalf of those who encounter her. #SadCherry was inspired by our society; the discordance that she portrays is reflective of present-day Hong Kong.
#SadCherry is not a fixed character; she reveals the struggle that many nineties kids face – expressing our inner emotions and thoughts. We share a desire to be loved and understood, but as we grow up, we learn to conceal our real selves. We all become a form of #SadCherry in this process. I think it is important for us to reconcile with our own discordance, and break free from it in order to find a peace of mind.
iii) Is there a particular meaning behind the thick, red lips on #SadCherry?
#SadCherry in pouting her thick, luscious lips symbolizes her unwavering desire for love and attention. At the same time, there is a hint of despair in her eyes, and the expression on her face portrays the modern urbanite’s conflict in pursuing the heart’s desires and facing reality.
iv) You had mentioned that your works exhibit the mindset of the new generation – lonely, in despair, and hungry for love, but also possessing dynamic energy and vibrant creativity. What of the new generation, specifically, were you inspired by?
I think this represents my true self that hides deep inside. Among nineties kids in Hong Kong, I grow up in a relatively humble and deformed family, so I long for love and recognition. I couldn’t hide my sadness and pressure of life, but there is fire inside me.
v) Tell us all about your creative process? What happens when you get an idea for a piece, and how does it come into shape, from beginning to end, and beyond?
When inspiration comes upon me, I prefer drawing instantly without drafting to keep the original imagery. It is because the process of drafting involves adjustments. Once the draft is finished, it is no longer the same imagery that I wanted to present.
vi) As you are based in Hong Kong, what are some of your favorite things about this city, and how do you think your environment influenced your work, if it did?
As a Hong Kong citizen, the environment and rapid pace do influence my works. The sorrow in #SadCherry’s eyes and discordance with her expressions are also influenced by the city. My favorite place is the Oyster House in Tsim Sha Tsui. Several of my paintings live at the restaurant as part of its interior decoration, so I have a strong sense of belonging towards this place. Also, the restaurant management encourages and supports young artists. I feel free and relaxed when I make art there.
vii) In your definition, what makes a successful artist?
An artist faces bravely their own problems, and this process is shown within their work. Every great artist has the courage to express what they perceive and think in ways that others may not understand. Being brave and true to ourselves is the key to success for every artist. I am also working towards this.
viii) Any artists or creative individuals that you would love to have a chance to collaborate with in the future?
Yoshitomo Nara is my idol! He embraces his anger and expresses it on the character portrayed in his works. It would be such an honor if I could have a chance to work with him in the future.
ix) Lastly, are there any upcoming projects in the remainder of the year that you would like to share with our readers?
I am working on a mini video footage with the skincare brand Cetaphil, and this is the first time that #SadCherry will be appearing in the form of motion graphics. The video will be released in December!
A great thank-you to Jennifer Chow, and images courtesy to MiRAGE Production.