Global·PERSPECTIVES30.01.2024

TK Chan: Painting Futures

TK Chan is a distinguished figure in the art world, celebrated for her advocacy for equal representation and her impact as a mentor. Her journey from a self-taught artist to the founder of a renowned gallery in Hong Kong is a testament to her dedication to nurturing emerging talent and championing diversity. In our exclusive interview, we delve into Chan's pivotal role in empowering the next wave of artists by offering them guidance, opportunities, and a celebrated platform for their art. Her commitment to cultural education is a cornerstone of her work, underlining her role as a preserver and a trailblazer in the art community.

TK Chan's journey into the arts wasn't a straightforward path but an evolving dream nurtured over time.

Reflecting on her early aspirations, Chan reveals, "Back in secondary school, I secretly dreamed of being an artist, though I never took it too seriously." This admission captures the modest beginnings of her artistic aspirations, overshadowed by her shyness and the grand ambitions of her peers.

Despite her hesitance, Chan's path took a decisive turn post-high school. She applied to six prestigious universities in Scotland, predominantly focusing on computing and website design. It was here that she discovered her true calling. "It was in the area of design that I really found my calling," she shares, highlighting a pivotal moment in her journey.

Chan's artistic endeavors reached new heights in Edinburgh, which is renowned for its vibrant art scene. She recalls, "I took advantage of this by participating in events like the Leith Festival and The Edinburgh Fringe." Her involvement in these festivals wasn't just about showcasing her art; it was about engaging with the community through workshops and presentations, an experience she found "incredibly fulfilling."

"As a woman today, I strongly feel that we have equal educational opportunities."

Reflecting on the broader implications of her journey, especially as a woman, Chan acknowledges the progress made in gender equality.

TK Chan emphasizes the joy and value of children's education.

She understands the challenges modern parents face, especially when time is scarce and choices about children's classes may not always be the child's own. "This is why I focus on developing straightforward and accessible concepts," Chan explains, underlining her approach to resonate with both children and their parents.

Her philosophy revolves around making learning not just an obligation, but a rewarding experience. By crafting educational experiences that are fun and engaging, Chan aims to bridge the gap between the child's curiosity and parental expectations. She recognizes the importance of creating a learning environment that is appealing and beneficial, ensuring that the essence of education is not lost in the process.

Chan's innovative approach led her to transform a classroom into a gallery space, curating individual exhibitions for each student. This initiative not only elevated the students' exposure but also created a more memorable experience for visitors. "Guests and friends could better recall their visits and the distinctive styles of each artist," she notes, highlighting the personalized nature of these exhibitions.

Beyond the gallery walls, Chan cherishes the connections she has forged with art lovers and collectors. She recounts heartwarming instances of generosity and hospitality experienced during art shows, from receiving favorite durians in Singapore to being invited to stay at collectors' homes.

"These experiences have greatly enriched my life in the art world."

TK Chan's vision for BLINK Gallery is deeply rooted in the principles of Diversity, Equality, and Inclusivity, reflecting an inclusive approach that empowers artists.

"BLINK Gallery is acutely aware of the historical imbalance favoring male artists in the art industry."

This inclusive philosophy extends to the gallery's exhibitions, which are curated to embody core values like love, inner peace, harmony, joy, and vibrant color usage. Chan proudly notes an encouraging trend: an increase in female art collectors and artists, especially in regions like Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, Australia, and mainland China.

"Championing the empowerment of women to both appreciate and create art remains a fundamental goal of our gallery's mission."

Reflecting on the recent Olympian City Chinese New Year campaign, her role as a mentor brought an enriching blend of cultural education and artistic expression to young minds.

The class began with an educational foundation, where Chan introduced the children to the history and cultural significance of the lion dance. Using visual aids, she vividly brought the dance's dynamic movements and vibrant colors to life, setting the stage for the children's creative exploration.

In brainstorming sessions, Chan encouraged the children to integrate their burgeoning understanding of Chinese culture with personal creativity. They designed lion dance-themed T-shirts, incorporating traditional Chinese New Year patterns and their unique ideas. Chan’s guidance ensured their artistic visions were effectively translated onto paper.

As the children gained confidence, they delved into Chinese ink painting. Through hands-on sessions, they learned to balance ink and water, creating motifs like ingots, coins, blossoms, and firecrackers, each symbolizing auspicious tidings for the New Year.

The culmination of this journey was a "show and tell" session, where each child proudly presented their lion dance T-shirt design. This session wasn't just a display of their creative work; it was a celebration of their newfound skills, cultural understanding, and personal expression.

Photos: Jeremy Chapnick, Raymond Chan, TK Chan, Olympian City

Venue: Modern Shanghai, Olympian City

Text: Jeremy Chapnick

JESSICA 2024