Hong Kong is a place brimming with talented and intriguing people. In our weekly 27 Questions column, we get up close and personal with the city’s notable personalities, learning about their whims and aversions, pivotal life moments, and hopes and dreams — all in roughly the same duration of a casual speed date.
Brendan Fitzpatrick is a man of eloquence and style, both in personality and practice. Having returned to Hong Kong in the last two years, he’s slowly made a name for himself in the art sphere creating commissioned portraits.
“I’ve always enjoyed making pieces about people, whether it’s their narratives or their emotions and things that they go through,” Fitzpatrick says. “I started in Central Saint Martins but was then told that if I wanted to paint I should go to Italy, which is where I did my time. I was in Florence [Charles H. Cecil Studios], where I initially intended to stay for only three years, but one of the instructors took me aside and asked me to run some classes, so I stayed for another year.”
In 2018, Fitzpatrick was awarded the Portrait Prize by the Royal Ulster Academy. As an artist, he utilises the sight-size technique, whereby a model is painted in-person, to scale. When asked about his next steps, he says, “A solo show would be great. A collaboration would be great, too, but I need to find the right person to really harmonise with.”
Read more about Brendan Fitzpatrick here.
Name: Brendan Fitzpatrick
Neighbourhood: Ap Lei Chau
Occupation: Figurative Artist
1. What is your life motto?
The better you dress, the worse you can behave.
2. What is the best meal you’ve ever eaten in Hong Kong?
The best meal was the family feasts my Po Po cooked for the family. Ten aunts and uncles, children being given the fish cheek and chicken skin. That was 20 years ago, and I’ll never have it again.
3. Who is your role model?
Édouard Manet; artist, bon vivant, epitome of the flâneur. One of the few artists whose art is genius, and needs no excuses for his personality.
4. What is the best thing in or about your apartment?
My flatmate, Dean. Hi Dean, you’re the best thing about the apartment.
5. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I’m a night owl, held hostage by natural light and social norms to be a morning person.
6. What is your biggest regret in life?
Only being able to live one life.
7. What do you hate most about living in Hong Kong?
Rent being so goddamn high that I’m fantasising about balconies.
8. What is the top destination on your bucket list?
The Prado Museum in Madrid. The catalytic collection of Diego de Velázquez inspires greats from Francis Bacon to Michaël Borremans.
9. What is one movie everyone should see?
Whiplash. About passion, abuse and the sacrifices one makes in the pursuit of perfection.
10. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
I’m not picky, but I’d like to one day live on a ranch.
11. What makes someone a real Hongkonger?
Knowing when to carry an umbrella.
12. If you could invite any five people in the world to your dream dinner party, who would they be?
The Marquis de Sade, Salvador Dali, David Bowie, Fran Lebowitz, Édouard Manet. Though I think what I need is to have dinner with my five closest friends that I haven’t seen for the past two years.
13. If you had to describe Hong Kong in one word, what would it be?
14. What’s your favourite childhood memory?
Being a little boy and watching films with my dad, my head lying on his belly, rising and falling with his breath. That or reading books in bed with my mom. Comfortable, cosy silences, with all the security of a cat in a basket by the fire.
15. What is your favourite scent in the whole world?
The smell of fresh lilies; basil is a close second.
16. What is one song you know all the lyrics to?
“Without Me” – Eminem
17. Who is the best teacher you’ve ever had, what is one important lesson that they taught you?
My art teachers in my last years of school. That depression doesn’t have to come to conquer us.
18. What is your unique party trick?
I drink an entire bottle of wine and embarrass myself.
19. How many pairs of shoes do you currently own? Which do you wear the most often?
More than I have room to store them. A black jodhpur boot with a Cuban heel.
20. Would you rather never be alone for a single moment, or be alone for the rest of your life? Why?
Alone for the rest of my life, because I can’t evacuate my bowels if there are people around me.
21. What was the best gift you ever received?
My watch. My dad gave it to me on my 18th, a sentimental relic, as it was my mum’s engagement present to my dad, and after her passing, a reminder every day of her. I wear it every day.
22. What’s your favourite tradition?
Whenever I want to think about what my mother’s advice would be on a tough topic, I go have breakfast at her favourite spot while contemplating the question.
23. If you were a TV show character, who would you be and why?
Niche, but I feel I could be the entire main cast of Bojack Horseman. I am Bojack Horsemen.
24. What’s a relationship deal breaker for you?
25. If you could snap your fingers and fix one thing about the world, what would it be?
No one would ever bite the inside of their mouth by accident while chewing food. You’re welcome.
26. Do you believe in astrology? Why or why not?
I don’t, but I find the framework is a fascinating springboard to ideate from.
27. What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done, and why?
Go against a lot of conventional advice, and plunge myself into the unknown. No one I had witnessed while growing up had been an artist professionally, every step I take further into that unknown space makes my heart pound like a base line. I’m incredibly grateful that I’ve encountered generous souls who’ve helped light up paths and avenues that I didn’t know possible.