City Poetry 城市詩意 Exhibition in Hong Kong

About ‘City Poetry 城市詩意'
‘City Poetry’ is Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze’s most personal project to date

Jacquet-Lagrèze set himself the task of documenting visually striking street signs and took them home where his wife would help to translate them, which slowly enabled him to decipher the characters that adorn this city’s streets. As his archive grew, so did his knowledge, forming sentences with photographs of individual characters resulting in poems that are both visual and linguistic.

From left to right:

  1. 'Turning Stone Into Gold' (點石成金), this Chinese idiom reflects well my intention: collecting old and ignored characters in order to create unique artworks.

  2. 'Boundless Happiness', the characters '福和東海' are a famous idiom meaning literally 'Happiness as large as the Eastern Sea'.

  3. The Chinese words '勵行' literally means 'Make efforts to cultivate oneself’. I believe that just like these damaged characters, we have to carry out great efforts and go through plenty of hardship in order to cultivate ourselves.

  4. 'The Nine Dragons', 9 times the character 'dragon' (龍) referring to the name of Kowloon '九龍' meaning literally '9 dragons'. Kowloon is the most dense part of Hong Kong with the biggest concentration of older buildings and neons signs. It is my home for now over 9 years.

Hong Kong is one of the last places in Asia where traditional characters are still in daily use, we are literally surrounded by ancient texts.
— Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze

Hong Kong is one of the last places in Asia where traditional characters are still in daily use, we are literally surrounded by ancient texts. Modern street signs derive from the art form of calligraphy and ‘City Poetry’ shows different typographies and mediums, such as painted, neons, metal, tile and concrete work. Men designed these signs to be informative and attractive, but the erosion transforms them into something deeper.

These marks of time remind us the impermanence of things and are bringing another depth of meaning to each of this words which are then assembled to create artworks that sound poetic both lyrically and visually.

Stunned by the architectural race to the sky and the three dimensional character of Hong Kong, he published his first book with Asia One: ‘Vertical Horizon’ (p. 2012). The work was a hit a on social media and soon after spread like wild fire over the internet world wide and received attention from heavy weight local and international press.

Motivated by the international bravo he continued to make new projects exploring Hong Kong’s unique landscape. Wild Concrete (p. 2014) depicts nature’s resilience in an urban environment. The Blue Moment (p. 2016) is a body of work exploring duality of Hong Kong’s nature and urbanity during this magic hour at dusk. While Concrete Stories (p. 2018) collects a variety of human activities found on Hong Kong’s rooftops.
Romain is still focusing on evolving his photography in Hong Kong where he resides and finds inspiration.

A Hundred Pains Forge Talent (百苦成材)

A Hundred Pains Forge Talent (百苦成材)

'Be Original' (有新意), even old things can be original and seem new after enough time passed.

Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze was born in Paris in 1987. He graduated with a Masters in Creative Media at the East Paris University. He moved to Hong Kong in 2009 and since 2010 he has been pointing his camera on Hong Kong to document the different aspects of his new home city.

The exhibition will feature about 30 works including some pieces from his previous projects, Wild Concrete, Concrete Stories and Blue Moment. There will be an Artist Talk and other events surround the exhibition and his books will be available during the exhibition.


Exhibition Dates: 7 June - 7 July 2019

展覽期: 2019年 6月7日 至 7月7日

Opening Reception: Thursday 6 June, 6–9 pm

開幕期:2019年 6月6日下午6-9時

Blue Lotus Gallery: G/F 28 Pound Lane, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong


Opening Hours: Wed - Sun | 11am to 6pm

開放時間:星期三 星期 上午11時-下午6時

Traditional Chinese characters is one of man’s historical languages still in use, we are so lucky to be surrounded visually by this ancient text in such a hyper-modern city. The signs are genuine works of art, combining the techniques by man, time and the elements. I decided to capture this with my camera. As I am fascinated with the artform of Chinese calligraphy, I had the idea of combining different characters together in order to create poems, to build meaning by collaging characters photographed in different places and made using various materials.
— Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze, 2019