Hong Kong born artist, Marc Allante merges traditional Chinese inks and tools with European watercolour and pen techniques in a style that showcases his Chinese-French heritage and brings it to life on canvas. Allante’s work has been featured internationally in publications like Huffington Post, Next Media, Celebrity Nouveau, Trend Hunter and so many more! Wall Hop interviews Marc about his original artwork, his process, to give you insight into his fantastic paintings.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I am 28, born and based in Hong Kong and when I am not painting I am usually travelling or stuck in comic books and video games (geeky manchild at heart). I like good food and good whisky.
How has your upbringing influenced your artwork?
I never had formal art training, but my family played a huge part in developing and encouraging creativity. My grandmother was an ikebana master and painted oil on linen works as a hobby, my uncle is an accomplished 2D animator and my mother was in fashion design, so I was immersed in an artistic environment growing up. I moved around a lot as well; born in Hong Kong but lived in Indonesia, Australia and England before coming back here. It was a mix of living in dense urban cities and in the country, and I guess I draw from a lot from the experiences living abroad, adapting to different places, cultures and travelling – which might be why my works can sometimes be quite thematically eclectic.
You talk about a relationship between Eastern and Western Cultures in your artwork – how does this play out with your subjects and your medium?
I have always really loved Japanese ink woodblock printing, sum-e and traditional Chinese ink painting. I think it’s incredible how so much depth can be conveyed in such few strokes. I guess my style developed out of a curiosity to try using some of those techniques in new ways and blend them with European watercolor styles. I use traditional brushes, ink grinding stones, sometimes xuan paper, but will also switch these out for European pigments and tools, or spray paint if I am doing mural work.
With pieces like “This City Sleeps” & “City in Flight” – you seem to merge nature with architecture – can you elaborate on these pieces?
They both portray busy market streets in a district called MongKok. I like to think of Hong Kong has as a living breathing animal with a lot of character. It’s also a city that is constantly on the move and I wanted to channel that somehow into these pieces.
What is the idea or message behind your artwork?
I really believe that art should be for everyone. I don’t really like to make judgments about what is high brow or low brow art, everything resonates differently with different people and so I try not to take myself too seriously. I just love to paint and create, and hope I that enthusiasm translates into every new work. It’s a bonus when other people enjoy the final product as much as I enjoyed the process of creating it!
How would you compare the art scene in Hong Kong, to Sydney, to London
It is still developing in Hong Kong but moving very much in the right direction. You have two ends of the spectrum where big fairs like Art Basel are coming into town with some incredible talent, but it’s even nicer to see more grassroots development of the art scene here. We have had some amazing international (and local) street artists working with HK walls to really liven up some public spaces with incredible graffiti work and places like PMQ which offer a better avenue for artist, designers and illustrators to showcase their work. I would say there is a larger community and much more support in Sydney and London but thanks to the internet, these days I don’t think anyone is tied down to a single place.
What are some of the challenges presented with being an artist in Hong Kong? What are some of the luxuries?
I think it can be difficult as a local artist here as so much of the art world is now looking to mainland China for new discoveries, emerging artists and trends rather than home grown talent (and there is a lot of it here!). However, that’s not to say that there isn’t a growing community or a love of art here. One of the biggest challenges is probably that space is a premium, rent is astronomical so independent studios are a rarity and gallery space can also be a challenge at times especially when working in larger formats or installations. However it’s is a wonderfully vibrant and dynamic city where I have made lifelong friends who really rally behind you for any project, show or just providing constant encouragement.
Who are some artists that inspire you? And artworks that you love?
In terms of more classical and traditional works my favourite artists include Turner, Hokusai, William Blake and Trombley. Contemporary artists… I really reeeeaaaaaally want one of Nick Gentry’s paintings and have always enjoyed Andrew Sagaldo’s portrait work. I just bought an architectural painting by Rainbow Tse and I am a big fan of another local artist, Pete Ross.
Why did you choose the life of a painter / why do you do what you do?
Painters gonna paint.
What does Art / being an artist mean to you?
I find it a very meditative process, everything else melts away when I am drawing and painting which can be extremely liberating.
What would you attribute your current successes to? And/Or what have been some of the proudest moments in your career?
Crazy dumb luck and enjoying it while I can haha. In all honesty though it is upsetting as I think there is a lot of unrecognized talent out there who sometimes just need a nudge or helpful step up. I got lucky and had an article I posted online about my painting development from the ages of 2 – 25 go viral. I was going through quite rough patch at the time and just the amount positivity and the great feedback I received put a big stupid smile on my face. Since then I have been working with galleries, major international brands and shamelessly plugging my facebook page (hint hint). I think it’s important not to sit on your laurels though, I still have a long way to develop, learn and hopefully push towards new highs, and persistence is key to that.
What’s next for you?
I just finished up working on designs for a luxury swimwear company in Hong Kong called www.mazuswimwear.com. I would like to focus now on a body of work for a solo show later in the year. I’ve have also been trying to help with conservation efforts for the Marine Mega Fauna Foundation , so thematically, I will likely be doing a lot more marine life over the next few months.
Any final thought or parting words?
Don’t stop creating and learning! There is always room to develop and do more, for yourself and others.
Check out more of Marc Allante’s artwork on his website & follow him on Faceboook, Twitter & Instagram
If you missed it – See Marc’s viral article on the development of his artwork over 23 years (this is awesome!)
Interviewer: Rob Green