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Humans of Hong Kong: Colouring the world with Elsa Jean de Dieu

By Localiiz 28 May 2021

Welcome to Humans of Hong Kong, a story series on Localiiz that takes a deeper look at the many colourful characters and unique personalities that call our beloved city home. We took to the narrow lanes and wide avenues of Hong Kong to hunt for street art with Elsa Jean de Dieu, a mural artist who came to the city by way of France. Join us as she shares her story of discovering her love for Hong Kong and what art means to her.

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“And so I grew up in a small town next to the Mediterranean Sea and I studied in Paris and moved to Hong Kong 13 years ago. I had a friend here and I was curious about a new way of living and learning a new culture. It was actually a big adventure for me because it’s quite different from my French culture as well. But here in Hong Kong, there are a lot of French citizens living here. I found myself being surrounded by a lot of French people.

“Hong Kong was crowded. It was noisy. It was vertical. It was not a place where I was feeling very comfortable at the beginning because of the number of people. But I very quickly realised that it was such an amazing city to live in; it’s very dynamic. There are a lot of different nationalities and that’s what makes Hong Kong very special.”

“I grew up with art. My parents, my grandparents, many people in my family are artists, and I kind of grew up in it. So I became like a painter. At 14 years old, I knew I wanted to do that as a job. I’m still very passionate about my work and still very excited about it. It’s like a natural attraction. I couldn’t see myself doing something else.”

“Art is a way for me to express myself. It’s a way to connect with people without talking to people. It’s a way to touch a lot of people. It’s a way to bring joy to people, positive vibes, a good feeling. You don’t need to really overthink about what’s behind it. When you look at art, it can have a good impact on your mood for the day.”

“When I arrived in Hong Kong, there was no graffiti in the streets. There were not too many artists living in Hong Kong. Now it’s getting more and more saturated, and there’s a lot of people working hard to really promote street art. But we also have Art Basel and Art Central and other events.”

“If I were to paint Hong Kong, visually, I think Hong Kong would probably be like a big green spot with a lot of texture and things splashing around, like a lot of energy coming from this green spot. Maybe a little bit of blue as well, because we are surrounded by the sea. I would paint things jumping out of the colour to visualise all the buildings and all the people and all the energy flowing around.”

“I love the city and because the city is pushing me to go outside of the city. So I really like to keep this balance where on weekdays, I’m working in the city and I’m working hard and everything is so convenient. You can go from place A to place B to place C very easily. And what I love is really escaping the noise, escaping the people in the city on Saturdays and Sundays, and enjoying nature and the countryside. If I want to swim tomorrow, I just go 10 minutes from the workshop and I can swim in the ocean. If I want to run, I just take my running shoes and I just run from my workshop to the Peak. Hong Kong is amazing because you can really do whatever you want.”

Created in partnership with Hong Kong Tourism Board for the Hong Kong Super Fans campaign

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Covering the hottest new eats, the best places to play, offbeat takes on local culture, and so much more, Localiiz is every Hongkonger’s destination for how to live a well-rounded life in our vibrant city. Why the strange spelling? Well, Localiiz is designed to be your ‘local eyes’—and for that, you need two i’s.

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