Geometric Image interview
Hong Kong-based painter and photographer, Janet Pancho Gupta, will exhibit color and black and white photographs from next Monday to June 4 at the Culture Club Gallery in Central, Hong Kong.
Her photographs capture the daily life in the city, the busy urban landscape and nature in the New Territories. As a painter, Janet is also known to create bold, detailed watercolor works and intense portraits that draw the viewer to the expressions.
She calls her photo collection a documentary of her life as a woman, wife, mother, and painter, hence Finding Space, the title of her exhibition.
Finding Space is about searching for time from her busy daily routine to take pictures. “When I do photography, I am completely happy and rejuvenated especially from a long day in the studio contemplating my next subject to paint.
My photography expresses a lot of my free spirited nature and my silent wishes. I like macro photography because it brings me back to my child-like curiosities and beliefs in finding magic in ordinary places. My urban images reflect a lot of the daily life reality and my longing for balance and order. I’m driven to shoot symmetry, geometrical style of perspective, and minimalism. But there are also times of creations that pop into my head and which is more like a painter’s mind that capture moments by taking advantage of what already exists from out of nowhere — from rain droplets, to screens, and many more,” she says describing her style of photography.
She calls her work a transformation and not a transition because both painting and photography become a perfect marriage in her creativity.
She has held solo and group exhibitions in the past eight years in Hong Kong. Her works are in collections with art lovers in China, Hong Kong, Australia, India, United Kingdom, Norway and the United States. She's currently working on her next solo painting exhibition towards the end of this year.
My "Long Day" has been published on their print magazine full page on May 6, 2016.
RTHK INTERVIEW 2016
Hong Kong Heritage RTHK interview with Annemarie Evans
Upcoming photography exhibition Finding Inner Space by Hong Kong-based, Philippine-born artist Janet Pancho Gupta mixes colourful, up-close images with stark black and whites of city life
Hong Kong-based artist Janet Pancho Gupta has focused on everyday life for her latest photography exhibition, “Finding Inner Space”.
To be held from May 9 to June 4 at the Culture Club Gallery in Central, the show, says Gupta, is a documentary of her life as a woman, wife, mother and painter. “It’s about finding those moments alone to collect one’s thoughts and ideas. Some images I took while grocery shopping or walking the dog – whenever I had free time to discover new places.”
The result is a beautiful mix of up-close images of flowers and insects – many taken near her home in Hong Kong’s New Territories – and black-and-white images that capture the starkness of urban life.
“My urban images reflect daily life and my longing for balance and order. I’m driven to shoot symmetry, geometrical style of perspective, and minimalism.”
Born in the Philippines, Gupta has held solo and group exhibitions in Hong Kong. Her works are in collections with art lovers in China, Hong Kong, Australia, India, Britain, Norway and the United States. Gupta is currently working on her next solo painting exhibition.
There is something strangely mesmerizing and deeply religious in the works of Filipina nature artist Janet Pancho Gupta, whether they are her meticulously done watercolor paintings or her nature and street photographs.
Connoisseurs and dilettantes alike could not help but stop and take a longer look at each of her unique work to discern the philosophy behind them – from her watercolor painting of a fern bud furled in fetal form to her photo of a hibiscus silhouetted against a bronze sky breaching the sun’s rays at dusk.
The former domestic helper artist came to Hong Kong in 2000 but started painting just eight years ago. She is known for the fine details of her subjects and the deliberate hues and tones with which she addresses them to bring on the mood that she likes to impart to the beholder.
Like the subjects of her masterpieces, Pancho Gupta prefers to be inconspicuous, focusing on her creations to give them the depth and mystery that keep her followers in awe, rather than being seen in the company of other artists.
Lately, too, her art pieces have begun to transform, she explains, reflecting her perception of herself being walled in after years of boundless freedom in the Saikung countryside.
Replying to an online friend’s comment about the pixels in her new works, Pancho Gupta replied: “…Personally the bold colors, lines and patterns are something to do with my emotions. I was not so happy moving in the city but then lately I taught myself to visually color my surroundings. Haven’t you noticed the city’s color is always gray and black? I’m surrounded with all those and when the day is dull and cloudy…the scene shouts for emptiness.”
The 39-year-old Pancho Gupta says she has done almost 100 paintings over the past eight years, 90% of them in watercolor. She has also tried oil, pastels, graphite, “everything except acrylic.” She says she chose to start with watercolor for discipline .“The reason why I started with water color is, they say if you can do watercolor, you can do everything,” she told The SUN in a recent interview in her home in Tin Shui Wai.
A self-taught artist, Pancho Gupta tried to go to art school in Hong Kong just so she could have formal training, but she stopped after experiencing discrimination. She recounted how one of her art tutors had boasted on Day 1 that his students included famous people in Hong Kong society, as if implying she was in the wrong place because she was a Filipina and a domestic helper to boot.
On another occasion she was in another painting school and a western female student obviously didn’t like seeing the professor praise Pancho Gupta’s work. On her way out after the session, the woman stopped in front of the Filipina’s desk and said spitefully: “One day, I’ll be a better painter than you are.” The artist just smiled.
The leaves of art grew naturally in Pancho Gupta. She said she came to draw naturally while still a child, and she just “drew and drew”. In the classroom she drew all the people around her. “If there’s something that I need to say, it’s part of me, I draw without even thinking. I never even appreciated it as a talent,” she said.
The artist said she lived for a long time in Bethune House, a refuge for domestic helpers thrown out or maltreated by their employers, and she had friends there and they “never knew that I know how to draw.” Reports say it was during her stay in the shelter that she discovered her talent for painting. She is versatile and strong in portraits as well as in nature paintings, and her surreal portrait of an Indonesian rape victim in watercolor, titled “Unburden Me,” is both touching and infuriating.
Pancho Gupta read a lot of books on painting, but the further she went, the more she found herself “like a lost child” afraid of how her reading might influence or change her. While about to give up, she was accidentally brought to her senses by a colorful coaster dropping to the rug, emitting a lovely burst of blue colors and a trace of lace as it reflected the sunlight. “Suddenly, oh my Jesus, I shouldn’t worry anymore about what people think; the most important thing is that I paint consistently, continuously, and that’s just the beginning, when I found out the contrast of two colors was yellow and blue,” Pancho Gupta said. Enthralled by that spectacle, she immediately went to work and finished three of her paintings that afternoon. Her husband, journalist Mukul Munish of the South China Morning Post, encouraged Pancho Gupta to paint when he found out she was a natural-born artist. He told her to just draw, draw and draw and helped her find the art materials she needed, telling her that his own father was a master artist so he could help her pursue painting.
Pancho Gupta has branched into nature photography and, lately, into street photography. In both recent activities, her works exhibit the same depth, the same soul of the artist that she reveals in her paintings. Because she says her artworks are her own self. On May 12, Pancho Gupta will open her first solo photo exhibition, “Finding Inner Space,” at 15 Elgin St., SOHO, Central. The show will run from May 9 to June 5. “Finding Space is a documentary walk around images captured by a woman, mother, wife, and painter who found solace in photography from her daily chaotic life and routine,” the event invite states.
2014 The Sun
Artruism 2, an exhibit held at Visual Arts Centre on April 30 by Pintura Circle artists and generous artist-friends, raised about $70,000 for victims of last year's typhoon Haiyan (local name, Yolanda), which devastated the Southern Philippines.
Deputy Consul General Rossana Villamor Voogel officiated the ribbon cutting and delivered a speech during the opening night of the exhibit.
According to Pintura Circle president Abigail Camaya-Hills, the money raised is enough to buy 15 additional boats for fishermen who lost their means of livelihood from the deadly typhoon.
The donation will be turned over to the Peter Project of Negrense Volunteers for Change Foundation Inc. ("NVCI"), which will buy and distribute the fiberglass fishing boats to qualified fishermen.
Pintura Circle has now raised enough funds for 25 boats for the typhoon victims, including the 10 previously bought and delivered to families in Higantes Islands in Iloilo. For the second phase of the donation, Pintura Circle chose NVCI for its transparency and accountability. NVCI provides photos showing the beneficiary together with the boat named after the donor, as well as a daily accounting of the income of the fishermen, if requested.
Meanwhile, an art exhibit celebrating the 116th Philippine Independence Day will be opened at the Marco Polo Prince Hotel on June 12.
Special guest is Philippine National Artist BenCab, whose new sculpture series will be displayed and offered for sale at the exhibit.
The exhibit is a joint project of the Philippine Consulate General, Pintura Circle, and other Filipino artists such as Bobit Segismundo, Jun Cambel, Manny Rubio, Tito Cascante, Janet Gupta, Jhoie McNally and Nida and Cheryle Cranbourne.
This is part of Marco Polo Hotels' "Best of the Philippines" month-long promotion in June.
A Filipino Food Festival will also be on at the hotel's Add Coffee Shop.
A Filipino chef will be flown in to cook and promote Filipino dishes, while a famous bar tender from Marco Polo Davao will lord it over at the lobby bar.
2013 Hong Kong Contemporary 13
(25-27 May 2013)
The Excelsior, Hong Kong , Booth No.1519 and 1520
With the success of its hot debut in 2012, Hong Kong Contemporary will once again provide an interacting platform for art lovers around the world in 2013. In recent years, Hong Kong art market has developed and risen dramatically, seizing the attention from global art communities. Many worldly renowned art fairs and auction houses, such as Christie�s and Art Basel, start to settle down in this newly emerging city of art. Through various shows and fairs during Hong Kong Art Week, both international and local art business communities can gain a chance to interchange cross-cultural experiences of art in this gateway where east meets west.
Reprisented artists: Peter Lloys Lewis, David Mabb, Janet Pancho Gupta, Kan Won Je, Lee Su Yeun, Lee Yun, Moon Hyo Jung, Moon JooHo, Moon Unjin, Nam Sang Woun, ra Sang Deok, Seo Myung Hie, Soo Hong, Woon Sung Lip
What better way to celebrate another milestone in the oldest shelter in Hong Kong for foreign domestic workers in distress than to do so in the company of all those who have supported it through the years?
This was exactly what those in charge of Bethune House did when they gathered all its friends, former clients and supporters in celebrating its 24th year on Oct. 15 at the nearby Kowloon Union Church (KUC) in Jordan.
More than 100 people from various fields and of different ages gathered for the happy occasion which was made livelier by songs from the Indonesian and Filipino domestic workers who reside in the shelter.
Among the guests were legislator Emily Lau and noted philanthropist Anne Marden.
Conspicuous was the presence of several students in the crowd. One group from the South Island School in Aberdeen showed two short video clips that they made to help promote support for Bethune
Bethune Director Edwina Antonio welcomed all the guests, and specially supporters who have provided the shelter and its residents food, professional services and skills, and even physical space, as in the case of the KUC.
Several supporters including The Sun editor Daisy CL Mandap and businesswoman
Connie Kroeker spoke on the importance of continuing the support for Bethune.
Kroeker told the audience of how pleased she was that her target of raising more than 2,000 pounds of food for Bethune was surpassed, while Mandap shared how impressed she has been with how the shelter has helped build the confidence of its clients.
In acknowledging Lau's presence, Mandap also took the opportunity to call on the Hong Kong government to provide funds and direct services to migrants in distress. This includes supporting to Bethune, which provides tangible assistance and results to a vulnerable sector of the society.
But as always, the most moving testimonies came from the women who have benefited from staying at Bethune.
The migrants spoke of varying degrees of abuse that they suffered at the hands of their employers. One spoke of being forced to go through the garbage for food, while another talked of how she was raped and forced to overstay her visa after being driven out of her employer's house.
Others shared how Bethune has made a difference in their lives, including learning to do arts and crafts, and how to fight for their rights.
A former resident, Janet Pancho-Gupta, spoke poignantly of how her two-year stay at Bethune helped restore her health and confidence. It was also during her stay there that Gupta, now married to an Indian journalist, discovered her talent for painting.
2009, Helena May, Bethune House Charity Auction
About $20,000 was raised by the Bethune House shelter for migrant workers during its open house and charity auction on Sept. 26, held to mark its 23rd anniversary. The highest amount raised for a single item came from Consul General Claro Cristobal, who bid $4,000 for a dinner buffet for four at the Mandarin Hotel.
He faced stiff competition from Pastor Phyllis Wong, assistant minister of Kowloon Union Church and a member of the Bethune House Board.
Congen Cristobal also successfully bid $950 for a coffee maker.
The other bidders were friends and supporters of Bethune, including The Sun publisher Leo Deocadiz and employers' group representative Doris Lee.
Bethune's executive director Edwina Antonio-Calimutan said she was pleased with the outcome of the charity sale and auction, and was grateful for all those who turned up to join their anniversary celebration and donors such as Janet Gupta, a former Bethune resident whose paintings were auctioned off.
She said the money raised would pay for a third of the shelter's monthly expenses.
Bethune houses up to 40 migrant workers in distress at any given time. Currently there are 25 Indonesians and 5 Filipinos taking refuge there. Most are waiting to get cases they filed against their employers resolved, while a few others stay there while undergoing medical treatment at the nearby Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
In a touching testimony during an inter-faith service held to mark Bethune's anniversary, former resident Eni Lestari talked of how the shelter helped transform her into a leader of her fellow Indonesian workers.
"Bethune House is not just a second home to us but also a place where we can express ourselves," Lestari said.
She added that one of Bethune's biggest contributions to the Indonesian community in HK is the growing awareness among its domestic workers of their rights.
"Their empowerment starts when they get to Bethune House," she said.
Meanwhile, Calimutan said Bethune is set to go on major fund drives starting next month, when it expects to get approval from the government to ask for public donations.
This means that for the next three months, Bethune will be able to set up collection boxes at designated areas around HK. Among the places considered are the ferry piers in Central and Kowloon and some commercial establishments at Worldwide Plaza.
Bethune has also been offered to join charity bazaars organized by various groups, including Chinese International School, Sedan Chair, Helena May and the Citizens' Advisory Bureau.
Also in the pipeline is a film showing and workshop co-organized by The Sun, the details of which are still being worked out.
2008 Faces And Colour Of life
In her first solo exhibition, Janet Pancho Gupta showcases her appreciation of nature's beauty. In Faces and Colours of Life, the painter displays a talent for realism, depicting birds, animals and people with vibrant colours and piercing intensity.
'I depict what I can see directly and focus on portraits. I try to bring life to my drawings in faces and expressions in the eyes,' says the artist.
Showing her versatility, Pancho Gupta displays 16 drawings and paintings in graphite, coloured pencils, pastels and watercolours.
Pancho Gupta's inspiration comes from nature. 'Nowadays, people don't appreciate the beauty that surrounds us. I feel privileged to take one corner of that and capture it in a painting, from a tiger to a flower,' says the artist, who has lived in Hong Kong since 2000.
In Absolute Beauty, a parrot preening its feathers is depicted in rich aquamarine and orange-red hues: 'I exaggerate the intensity of their colours, which expresses my appreciation for a bird's beauty.'
The Landscape Fiery Sunset shows the black silhouette of tall weeds and bare trees against a fiery collage of reds, yellows and purples. The image was inspired by a landscape photo of the Australian outback, where a fire was raging. 'The photograph reminded me of the Philippines, where we burn sugarcane, and how beautiful it can be at sunset.'