Ac­tress Karena Lam on the life artis­tic

Cana­dian-born ac­tress Karena Lam rose to star­dom with mul­ti­ple movie hits over the past 14 years, win­ning her three Golden Horse Awards. Now the mother of two is step­ping into the art world as the cu­ra­tor of a new cal­lig­ra­phy ex­hi­bi­tion. She tells Xavier

HK Magazine - - PAGE 3 -

I was born and raised in Canada, but moved to Tai­wan when I was 15 in or­der to de­velop my singing ca­reer. But what I re­ally wanted to do was act.

In 2001, [film direc­tor and pro­ducer] Derek Yee was pro­duc­ing a movie by direc­tor Ann Hui called “July Rhap­sody,” star­ring Jacky Che­ung and Anita Mui. He flew me into Hong Kong for an au­di­tion and I got the role, so I stayed.

It was my first day on set when I re­al­ized, “This is what I want to do!”

I came to Hong Kong in 2001, and since then I’ve done 20-some­thing films. It’s not a lot.

I think I’m very lucky be­cause I re­ally love what I do: Be­ing a wife, a mother, an ac­tress, and my first time cu­rat­ing—I love it all.

My back­ground is a bit com­pli­cated: Ja­pan, Tai­wan, Hong Kong, Canada. I think we’re all global cit­i­zens now.

To­day I’m in Hong Kong; to­mor­row I might be in France; the next day some­where in Africa. I never imag­ined I would have the chance to visit so many places.

My sense of be­long­ing comes from home. I fol­low my hus­band and my two daugh­ters, and wher­ever they are, that’s home.

Art has al­ways been some­thing of an in­ter­est. I stayed in In­dia for half a month to learn indigo dye­ing; I weave my own fab­ric; I do ceram­ics; I re­leased a Po­laroid book in 2010; I hand-made 200 books ded­i­cated to Le Cor­bus­ier with Zuni Icosa­he­dron.

So I’d say art has been an im­por­tant part of my life. One day my agent Sandy Lamb asked me: “Why don’t you share it with peo­ple? This is so ed­u­ca­tional and yet it’s in­spir­ing.”

I was like, “No, it’s a hobby!” I al­ways felt like art was my own lit­tle haven and I didn’t want to share it.

That was be­fore I had chil­dren. But af­ter I be­came a mother, I re­ally want to cu­rate, to bring art to Hong Kong.

I call it fate [cu­rat­ing this ex­hi­bi­tion]. I didn’t get to know [artist] Inoue Yuichi—he passed away in 1985. It wasn’t un­til four, five years ago when I saw his “Hana” [flower] ex­hi­bi­tion in Tokyo.

It just spoke to me— it made my heart pound. That’s some­thing about art: It’s about per­spec­tive.

It’s noth­ing to do with logic—if it speaks to you, then it speaks to you.

I think I have this con­nec­tion with Yuichi be­cause he’s very gen­uine: He wanted to ex­plore hu­man­ity through his cal­lig­ra­phy, and I think I, as an ac­tress, try to ex­plore hu­man­ity through my roles.

Even though I never met him face-to-face, I feel like he’s a long-time friend. It’s weird, I don’t know how to de­scribe that feel­ing.

I re­ally want to bring his art to Hong Kong, to in­tro­duce him to kids and peo­ple of dif­fer­ent age groups. Then I’ll feel I have ful­filled an obli­ga­tion.

Hong Kong is still be­hind when it comes to art, and I think it has to do with ed­u­ca­tion. In France, for ex­am­ple, many of the art mu­se­ums have a whole floor ded­i­cated to chil­dren. In Hong Kong, we don’t even have a chil­dren’s mu­seum.

I’m sad­dened by it. I have two chil­dren—my el­dest loves paint­ing, and that makes me happy. If it’s some­thing she’s pas­sion­ate about, I’ll en­cour­age and sup­port her.

That’s why this ex­hi­bi­tion is free to all. I’ve in­vited many or­ga­ni­za­tions, like Tung Wah Group of Hos­pi­tals, schools, and artists with dis­abil­i­ties, to come and view the show.

I don’t think you have to know how to do [art] in or­der to ap­pre­ci­ate it. If you have the sen­si­bil­ity, you can form your own in­ter­pre­ta­tion.

Since I pro­posed this project to Agnès b two years ago, my work in pre­par­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion has been like that of a film direc­tor. There are al­ways prob­lems to solve.

Whereas as an ac­tress, I’m in my com­fort zone: I don’t have to care about other peo­ple, as long as I’m in char­ac­ter. It’s not so easy be­ing a cu­ra­tor.

My first pro­fes­sion is as a mom of two daugh­ters; sec­ond is be­ing an ac­tress. I’ve told my­self to do just one film per year, be­cause I want to be a full­time mom.

I’d say this is my first, not my fi­nal ex­hi­bi­tion. Will I be a cu­ra­tor again? I re­ally don’t know. I’ll just have to see how it goes—af­ter all, it’s a pas­sion.

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