Wing Shya may be one of Asia’s best known and most respected photographers, but he’s disarmingly self-effacing as we chat in his Chai Wan studio about his coming exhibition “Sweet Sorrow”, a fundraising collaboration with the Hong Kong Adventist Hospital Foundation (HKAHF).
The unsettling series of images of young Hong Kongers will be shown publicly for the first time this month. Wing shot his subjects in striking, otherworldly outfits against black backdrops or bleak city settings to give voice to his perspectives on love, hope and isolation amid unremitting urbanisation.
I never really felt like a good photographer until I did this.
It’s one of the projects I’m most proud of. I’m mostly known for commercial projects, but Sweet Sorrow is different; I developed it independently, out of my own pocket and over the course of almost two years.
It’s my way to voice my disquiet about Hong Kong’s younger generation.
It’s also a visual experiment I had to go through to validate myself as an artist.
Some of my subjects are dressed in cute outfits, but they don’t look endearing. They are like dolls. They don’t realise they’re human.
I created Sweet Sorrow as a personal project, and I wasn’t too interested in showing it to an audience. Then Jo Soo-Tang (chairman of HKAHF) got in touch. They lay dormant for three years.
For space reasons, I will only be displaying 15 out of the 30. I’m glad the foundation found Sweet Sorrow a home so it can reach a wider public for a good cause
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