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Mr. Barlo Embraces Surreal Experiments on Hong Kong’s SoHo Streets

Posted on June 14, 2018

South of Hollywood Road in Hong Kong is often referred to as the SoHo of the city, steeped in neverending staircases that scale the pitched incline and pinched into back alleys full of skinny cats, fashionably urban youth, and a fair amount of homegrown organic graffiti and Street Art.

Mr. Barlo at work in Hong Kong (photo courtesy and © Mr. Barlo)

A home away from home for the Italian Mr. Barlo, who has explored his ideas on the streets here for four years or so, today we have examples of the creative range of ideas he is experimenting with in new wheatpastes and a recent mural (for HK Walls this spring).

“ ‘The Pet of the Archeologist’ – This is the last wall painted over the weekend for @hkwalls 2018. This is a concept born quite a while ago in Hong Kong for a wall in Hong Kong but never had the chance to be done properly. It also made me think that it has been ages since I painted a mural in the streets of this crazy city that I call home(-ish).”

Mr. Barlo. Hong Kong (photo courtesy and © Mr. Barlo)

All of these pieces are meant to be discovered – scattered as they are among the winding streets and backsides of increasingly chic boutiques, quirksome art galleries, and sleekly dark bars.

” ‘La città inquieta” (unresting city)’ – This is the first of a series that I am determined to push forward through 2018 – not necessarily limited to paste up. It is my first attempt to channel into an artwork the chaos under the veil of modernism, the naive optimism and the unspoken anxieties that this city has been feeding me since I decided to call it home,” he says.

Mr. Barlo. Hong Kong (photo courtesy and © Mr. Barlo)

“It is also the first attempt a pasting above ground – definitely not perfected yet,” he says of the undulating flag that is a metaphor for the anxiety and discomfort of changes percolating inside notions of modernism, and perhaps nationalism today.

Using the streets as a laboratory to test new ideas and techniques, Mr. Barlo is not worried that pieces may cause confusion, because whether it is surrealism or classical Western ideas of figurative beauty, all of it can be reappropriated, sliced into pieces, pulled apart and examined from within.

But whatever the implied or opaque meanings, watchers of Mr. Barlo will tell you that his technique is definitely progressing.

Mr. Barlo. Hong Kong (photo courtesy and © Mr. Barlo)

“These wheatpastes represent quite a new way of working for me, given the limits of paper as a medium and the higher risk of seeing work that still took hours to be made being taken down right away,” he says as he stretches to describe the experience of going out and hitting up walls as night with a friend or two with these new one-of-a-kind and often cryptically themed posters that have hidden meaning known mainly to him.

Mr. Barlo. Hong Kong (photo courtesy and © Mr. Barlo)

“It has been a very refreshing approach that has allowed me to work on pieces that are more focused on one specific subject while trying to still infuse character and a sense of mystery into the work.”

Mr. Barlo and “Sisyphus”. Hong Kong (photo courtesy and © Mr. Barlo)

“‘Sisyphus’ – aka your reward for walking all the way up on Aberdeen Street,” he says of this dung beetle. “This is the second attempt for this poster as the first was removed within 24h after I put it up, before I could even take a picture of it. Considering the title it was kind of hilarious.”

Mr. Barlo. Softcore. Hong Kong (photo courtesy and © Mr. Barlo)

” ‘Softcore’ – I hadn’t drawn human features for so long but I got caught again by the beauty of the volumes that only the human figure can express,” he says of this neoclassical beauty. “The spot is also so right for it, just outside Sai Ying Pun MTR (train station.”

Mr. Barlo. Hong Kong (photo courtesy and © Mr. Barlo)

“La Musa” (The Muse) byMr. Barlo. Hong Kong (photo courtesy and © Mr. Barlo)

“Amphora” by Mr. Barlo. Hong Kong (photo courtesy and © Mr. Barlo)

“Amphora” by Mr. Barlo. Hong Kong (photo courtesy and © Mr. Barlo)

Mr. Barlo. Hong Kong (photo courtesy and © Mr. Barlo)

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