Paintbrush is HK artist's weapon of choice at protests

Mr Perry Dino working on a painting at a protest against the extradition Bill in Hong Kong on June 16. The 53-year-old artist says he considers it important to record what is happening in the Chinese-ruled city.
Mr Perry Dino working on a painting at a protest against the extradition Bill in Hong Kong on June 16. The 53-year-old artist says he considers it important to record what is happening in the Chinese-ruled city.PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG • For 53-year-old Perry Dino, a paintbrush and canvas are weapons for opposing the Hong Kong government as it faces mass protests against a now-suspended Bill that would allow extraditions to mainland China.

Mr Dino, who has painted images of many of Hong Kong's social movements including the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement in 2014, considers it important to record what is happening in the Chinese-ruled city.

"I am already one of those standing on the front line to defend Hong Kong," he told Reuters.

Hong Kong's government has indefinitely suspended the Bill that would allow criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party. However activists, mostly students in face masks, hard-hats and goggles, are demanding the Bill be fully withdrawn.

The Bill has seen millions of people, fearing erosion of freedoms promised when Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997, throng the streets in protest, plunging the former British colony into political crisis.

"I hope future generations can understand what Hong Kong has gone through," Mr Dino said.

The part-time teacher says he hopes that when Hong Kong has true democracy, he can donate his artwork to a "democracy progression museum".

 
 
 
 

Among his paintings, which feature colourful brushstrokes, are ones showing demonstrators' tents occupying major thoroughfares and a flower-etched tribute to a protester who fell to his death.

One painting depicts police firing tear gas, with thick plumes of smoke billowing across a mass of demonstrators.

Since he started doing protest artwork in 2012, Mr Dino has joined the annual June 4 Tiananmen vigil and he made 25 paintings during the 2014 Umbrella Movement, when protesters paralysed parts of Hong Kong for 79 days.

Mr Dino said that during protests, Hong Kong police have told him to paint somewhere else.

On the mainland, Chinese censors strive to erase or block news or depictions of the protests.

Mr Dino is confident he can keep doing what he is doing. "They can't hack into my computer and delete it like a photo, nor can they destroy it with a baton as I can always fix my painting," he said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 30, 2019, with the headline 'Paintbrush is HK artist's weapon of choice at protests'. Print Edition | Subscribe