I was really intrigued by this book when I saw it on display today. Very expressive, gaudy and bold colors that almost exploded in my face while the linework ranged from very subtle to strikingly bold. The art is very dynamic and experimental, and the album has a wide scope of expressiveness: Sometimes stereotype, flat and macho, sometimes very tender and sensitive. There are many details that escaped me the first time I read it: Little figures going about their (insolent) business, easy to overlook in the general outburst of color and graphic cut-outs. While his cityscapes and architectural imagery is often very sophisticated and elegant, his portraits of people are more often very exaggerated and quite grotesque… I do like the tension and the dialogue between these different expressions.
This album is the story of his childhood in a suburban social housing area in Hong Kong. You meet a motley crew of housewives, traditional chinese elderlies, gangsters and snotty kids. Everything is very crowded, and it doesn’t really get any less strained and cramped when the typhone season arrives and the buildings are flooded…
My copy is written alternately in french and chinese. The text is very tiny and cramped handwriting, sometimes hard to read. The dialogue is sparse, and sometimes I find that I have difficulties understanding what’s really going on. Probably because I lack the socio-cultural background of Hong Kong in the seventies…
“Maybe you can describe my works as ‘wild beast style,’ though it has nothing to do with Fauvism,” says Yeung about his art. Apart from his more expressionest “wild beast” human portraits, the colors and the bold graphic qualities is not alien to Fauvist art in my opinion.
I have read very few asian graphic novels (since I’m not really into manga). I’m very curious to know more about this young artist and other new asian albums.
Hok Tak Yeung (born in 1970) grew up and studied in Hong Kong. In 1999 he started publishing comic strips for newspapers and magazines. He has participated in exibitions in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, France and Switzerland. In 2002, he published how blue was my valley (Qu’elle était bleue ma vallée) about his childhood in a low-budget public housing area in Hong Kong. The title of the album refers to an old classic English film called “How Green was my Valley”. The area he grew up in was generally known as “Bluefield”
Yeung Hok-tak’s website: www.kicklamb.com