In my 2 month stay in Hong Kong, I must say that the city doesn’t strike me as the most welcoming place, particularly in the service industries like clothing shops and restaurants. With the exception of my coworkers and some chance encounters, most of the times I get the feeling that people here don’t have an interest in getting to know outsiders. I’ve held this as a postulation until it was confirmed for me by an artist I met last night on an after-work excursion in Tsim Sha Tsui.
After work, my co-worker took me to an unassuming boutique mall, the ones with levels and levels of small stores packed with mid-priced mass produced goods. We were there to pick up some bags and clothes before I left the country. During my hunt for good among the latest fads and bling, however, I came across a tiny store stuffed with exquisite dresses that looked like they came out of a fantasy film.
In the back of the room,hidden behind the swirls and corsets was the artist, sketching intently into his notebook. He looked up behind his unbrushed waves of hair and then back to his drawing. Intrigued, I sat down to ask about him and his art.
What I realized was that I was talking to someone who could converse but was almost entirely in his own world.
“Jeff Dark”, as he calls himself, creates dresses that are dark and elegant. A former biology major, he decided, without any formal training, to pursue and devote his life to art. Dark’s garments I imagine are good enough to be sold in Bergdof Goodman for thousands of dollars (Dark was asked by a Forever21 executive to start a new line for the brand–which he declined–and has also held runway shows in Paris) Instead, he spends his days in his tiny shop drawing away. Tonight’s, his intricate ink pen sketch is of the store.
At the top of his sketchpad, in broken english, he writes, as if to preface himself before he begins sketching, “What point is Art, if there is no pain?”