‘City Poetry’ is Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze’s most personal project to date, a photographic exercise that shows the artist further deepening his roots in Hong Kong and Cantonese culture. How might a photographer approach learning a language? Through photography of course. Jacquet-Lagrèze set himself the task of documenting visually striking street signs and took them home where his wife would help to translate, slowly enabling 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 results in poems that are both visual and linguistic. His relationship to his wife as they expect their first baby echoes as he takes his first steps in the local language; celebrating the action of sharing culture and the joy that comes from learning a language. 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 that hark back to the Han Dynasty of the 5th century. 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.
Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze is a French graphic artist with a Masters in multimedia and art from East Paris University. His interest in photography began during his period of working in Los Angeles and Tokyo, and subsequently blossomed into a passion after his arrival in Hong Kong in 2011. Stunned by its architectural “race to the sky” he felt the need to use his camera to share his feelings about the city. The geometry of the urban environment and the vivid lives it shelters are the aspects of Hong Kong that inspire him most. Romain’s work has received attention from both local and international press such as SCMP, Herald Tribune, National Geographic, Lonely Planet, El Pais, Figaro, Huffington Post, The Guardian, Stern and many more. Four of his photo projects have been published into books.